News Releases

June 16, 2024 —  

Heidi Haverkamp will join DDH's full-time staff as Program Director, Writer-in-Residence, and Assistant Administrator beginning on July 8 and continuing through summer 2025.

Haverkamp is a 2006 MDiv graduate of the Divinity School and the author of five books, including Everyday Connections: Reflections and Practices for Year C (2021) // Year A (2022) // Year B (2023) and Holy Solitude (2017). She is an award-winning contributor to the Christian Century, a spiritual director and retreat leader, an Episcopal priest, and a former parish rector in Bolingbrook and Chicago. She writes an occasional newsletter, Letters from a Part-time Hermit. She grew up in Hyde Park and has recently returned to the area.

As Writer-in-Residence, she will pursue her own writing, offering an example of scholarly inquiry and writing as spiritual practices and creating opportunities to support student writing. As Program Director and Assistant Administrator, she will attend to the flow of life through the building and help to interpret DDH through various media. She will oversee Monday dinners and work with students and the dean to enrich worship, the arts, critical inquiry, and theological dialogue through Monday programs.

She won’t actually live in the building during the fifteen-month "residency," but she will attend to the daily commerce at DDH as a physical place, ethos, student residence, and educational institution. Through ongoing student interactions, her lived example of being a writer, and programmatic initiatives, she will help to build community capacity for living, learning, thinking, worshipping, and working together.

June 14, 2024 —  

Jack Veatch has been the daily face of DDH for students for the past year and a half as Director of Student and Alum Relations. A MDiv alumnus and ordained Disciples minister, he has served the Disciples Divinity House full-time as Director of Student and Alum Relations. His care for community and especially for Monday dinners and programs made him an essential and beloved member of DDH’s full-time staff.

On July 15, Jack becomes the new Director of Church Relations at Chapman University in Orange, California. His new position combines campus chaplaincy, young adult leadership development, and relations with the Disciples of Christ and United Church of Christ (UCC) denominations. Nancy Brink, Executive Director of the Fish Interfaith Center at Chapman, commented, "Rev. Veatch brings a passion for young adults and the foundational role chaplains play in spiritual formation. He is attuned to student loneliness and the need for belonging and connectedness that comes from fostering an environment that supports deep relationships."

This is an exceptional opportunity in undergraduate chaplaincy for Jack - and a bittersweet but proud moment for the Disciples Divinity House. Jack's last day at DDH will be Friday, June 21. A farewell celebration for Jack and Aneesah is planned for that day beginning at 2:00 pm.

Not only his work at DDH, but also Jack's background in ecumenical campus ministry and his experience as minister of the Evergreen [Colorado] Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) recommended him to Chapman. As an undergraduate at Kent State University, he was a leader in ecumenical campus ministry, an experience was also invited him to ministry. He interned with the Interreligious Task Force on Central America and participated with the Christian Peacemakers Team in Mina, Columbia. After earning his undergraduate degree in Business Administration from Kent State University, he was part of the National Benevolent Association's XPlor program where he worked with the North Hollywood Interfaith Food Pantry. He has also been a student of the ecumenical movement, studying at the World Council of Churches' Ecumenical Institute in Bossey, Switzerland, and participating as a GETI scholar at the 2022 WCC Assembly in Karlsruhe, Germany.

He and fellow DDH alumna Aneesah Ettress were married in the Chapel of the Holy Grail. She has been the Academic Engagement Coordinator for the Feitler Center at the University's Smart Museum of Art. Jack and Aneesah have been resident heads of an undergraduate dormitory at the University of Chicago.

May 14, 2024 —  

Alexa Dava, a 2023 MDiv graduate, was ordained to the Christian ministry on May 12 at Gilead Chicago, her home congregation. This season, Gilead's worship services are taking their theme from the refrain of a popular song that asks, "What was I made for?" In her sermon, co-pastor Rebecca Anderson spoke about a vocation of interpretation. CCIW Associate Regional Minister Eli Rolon led the service of ordination. They and the congregation affirmed that Alexa was, indeed, "made for this calling."

Alexa serves the World Council of Churches (WCC) as Project Officer on Human Dignity and Reproductive Health, working with member churches throughout the world. A letter from the WCC General Secretary, Rev. Dr. Jerry Pillay, also affirmed her call: The long tradition of [Disciples] leadership in ecumenical movements is strengthened by your ministry and commitment to gender justice.... Your ordination today helps to continue that great tradition of journeying together toward justice, reconciliation, and unity.

April 02, 2024 —  

Alexis Vaughan will speak at the DDH Convocation on Friday, May 31. A service will be held in the Chapel of the Holy Grail to mark the conclusion of DDH'S 129th year and to celebrate its graduating House Scholars and Residents. A gathering on the backyard patio will precede the service. The celebration will conclude with toasts and dessert. An alumna and trustee, Alexis serves as Managing Director, Domestic Operations, for Week of Compassion, the relief, refugee, and development mission fund of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Week of Compassion works with partners to alleviate suffering throughout the world. Previously, Alexis was the inaugural Director of Racial Equity Initiatives at Interfaith America, she also served as the social justice coordinator for the National Benevolent Association. An ordained Disciples minister, she earned her MDiv from the Divinity School as a Disciples Scholar in 2012, and a BA from Duke University.

March 29, 2024 —  

Ventilation work, LED lighting in the dining room, and kitchen renovations aimed at improving daily DDH life were completed in late March. Students are enjoying better air circulation, brighter lighting, a safer kitchen, and a more environmentally responsible space. New induction ranges and stovehood have been set in new cabinets, with new lighting and floor finish. Most of the work, though, is hidden from sight, with a massive air handler and new ductwork that ensure adequate airflow in the dining room and a rapid response hot water heating system. The design team used environmentally friendly ways to reduce heat in the spaces without introducing air conditioning and while addressing safety concerns associated with gas stoves and ovens. Sparkling pots and pans, suited to induction cooking, were generously gifted by Board President Pam Jones.

Some of the ventilation work got underway last summer. Kitchen renovations began on December 11 with old equipment and surrounding cabinets being torn out and the floor resurfaced and new equipment being set in place over winter break. The nearly $300,000 engineering and renovation project took three years to design, procure proper equipment, and complete.

February 20, 2024 —  

Cynthia Rice McCrae died February 18 in Indianapolis. She was 97. A teacher, church and community leader, partner, mother, and friend, she was a person filled with gratitude whose love and joy for life touched many lives.

Cynthia was born in Durban, South Africa, to parents who were missionaries with the Congregational Church. The family moved to the U.S. when she was eight years old. Music became a big part of her life; she played flute and piano and loved singing, especially finding a harmony part.

She graduated from Whitman College and took graduate courses at Chicago Theological Seminary. While in Chicago, Cynthia met her lifelong love and partner, Ian McCrae, a native of Toronto who was studying at DDH and the Divinity School. He would become an important theological voice and leader in social and economic justice and human and civil rights. After marrying in 1950, they lived in Des Moines and Los Angeles before settling in Indianapolis in 1963. During these years Cynthia and Ian’s five children were born.

She was one of the founders of the Downey Avenue Cooperative Preschool in Indianapolis in 1965. After one year as a “co-op parent,” she became the teacher, a role she held for more than two decades. At Downey Avenue Christian Church, Cynthia and Ian started and led the Explorers Class for young adults. Over the years, they opened their home to many people including exchange students, international visitors, and anyone who needed a place to stay. Their home was a place of welcome and acceptance.

In retirement, Cynthia and Ian joined with friends they met at DDH in the late 1940s, Dale and Betty Miller and Walter and Myra Abel; they all moved to a senior living community in Raymore, Missouri. One of their joys was to participate in St. Andrew Christian Church in Olathe, Kansas. Cynthia returned to Indianapolis in 2020. She reveled in living near most of her extended family and in making new connections at Robin Run and at Central Christian Church.

She is survived by her children Bruce (Betsy Headrick), Doug (Sue Meachem), Carol (Tim Zilke), Linda (Beverly Knight), and Maureen (Lloyd Wright); nine grandchildren; and thirteen great-grandchildren. She was predeceased by her husband, Ian, in 2011. Ian was honored by DDH's Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2007; Cynthia remained part of the wider DDH community until her death. A memorial service was held on February 25 at Central Christian Church in Indianapolis.

February 12, 2024 —  

At its February 1-8 meeting, held in North Sulawesi, Indonesia, Kris Culp was elected one of five vice moderators of the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches. The global theology commission is comprised of scholars and church leaders from Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Protestant, and Pentecostal traditions. The commission, which predates the WCC, was established to address theological matters that are church dividing and to further visible unity. Today, theological anthropology and technology, contextuality and decolonialism, ecclesiology, and moral discernment are among study topics.

Pictured with Andrej Jeftic, Director of the Commission (left), and Moderator Stephanie Dietrich (center) are four vice moderators: Myriam Wijlens, Jackline Makena, Culp, and Glenroy Lalor. Not pictured is Metropolitan Job of Pisidia.

January 25, 2024 —  

Warren Rush Copeland, died January 22, 2024, in Springfield, Ohio, following a three-month illness. He was 80. He was born on September 20, 1943, in Davenport, Iowa, and grew up in Silvis, Illinois. He graduated from MacMurray College in 1965. Two weeks later he married his college sweetheart, Clara Coolman. He received his MDiv from Christian Theological Seminary in 1968 and was ordained as a Disciple of Christ pastor.

He entered the Divinity School as a Disciples Divinity House Scholar that same fall, and received his PhD in 1977. For four years he directed the Illinois Conference of Churches. In 1977, he joined the faculty of Wittenberg University as an associate professor in religion, teaching social ethics. He later became the director of Urban Studies and, in 2008, he was named the faculty director of the Hagen Center. He was honored with the Alumni Association’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 1995; in 2018 he received the Medal of Honor for forty-one years at Wittenberg.

He co-edited Economic Justice and Issues of Justice (1988), and authored two books in religious social ethics, And the Poor Get Welfare (1994) and Doing Justice in Our Cities (2009). The latter offered ethical reflections on his time in the city government of Springfield, Ohio. He was appointed to the Springfield City Commission in 1988. He served as mayor from 1990-94 and from 1998 until he retired in 2023.

He is survived by Clara Coolman Copeland, a now retired kindergarten teacher; their three children, Scott (Laura), Karen (Carl) and Angel; and seven grandchildren. 

January 15, 2024 —  

Robert L. “Bob” Welsh died December 1, 2023, at home in Iowa City, Iowa. He was 97. He served First Christian Church in Iowa City from 1965 until his retirement in 1992. He was lauded for his public service at local, county, and state levels.

Born October 5, 1926, the son of Rev. James H. Welsh and Pauline (Gumerson) Welsh, he grew up in Indiana and Wisconsin. He attended Philips University and received his AB from Carroll College in Waukesha, Wisconsin. He entered the Disciples Divinity House in 1948; much later he would serve on the Alumni Council class of 2006.

His ministerial career began in Oklahoma City. He served churches in Indianapolis, Houston, and Des Moines before he and his family moved to Iowa City. He was a committed ecumenist and chaired the local council of churches, ministerial association, and ecumenical consultation. He chaired Iowa City’s first housing commission, which planned for Section 8 housing and resulted in building Ecumenical Towers in downtown Iowa City that serves older adults.

Bob was a life-long advocate of providing support to help all people within the community thrive. Locally, he was the founder of the Volunteer Service Bureau, Common Fund, and Ecumenical Housing Corporation. He was chaplain for the fire department and a strong advocate for persons with disabilities. For over twenty years, he was a leader of the Johnson County Nutrition Program that delivered meals to seniors. He chaired the Johnson County Task Force on Aging, and worked with the Heritage Area Agency on Aging. He served on a state work group on welfare reform and the Governor’s Childcare and Early Education Task Force, and on the White House Conference on Aging.

He received many recognitions, including the Senior of Distinction in Iowa in 2001; awards for outstanding volunteer service, advocacy, community service, contributions to human rights with the City of Iowa City Human Rights Commission; and the Betty Grandquist Lifetime Achievement Award in Service to Older Iowans. The Iowa City Senior Center dedicated the “Bob Welsh Community Room” in 2016. In 2019, the Johnson County Board of Supervisors celebrated the “Bob Welsh Appreciation Day” for his decades of service to and his dedication and love for the Johnson County community. He was also a huge supporter of University of Iowa athletics and the arts, with a very special affinity for Iowa women’s basketball.

Bob is survived by his wife Eunice; they celebrated their thirty-first anniversary in March 2023. He is also survived by his oldest son, Mark (Nancy), granddaughter Sarah Welsh Nelson, step-children Becky Scherschell and Warren Hanlin (Bonnie), two step-grandchildren, five great grandchildren, and one great-great grandchild. A celebration of his life was held January 6, 2024, at First Christian Church, Coralville, Iowa. For the published obituary.

January 01, 2024 —  

Alexis Vaughan begins service on the Board of Trustees, effective January 1. Also on January 1, she begins a new staff role at Week of Compassion as Managing Director, Domestic Operations. An ordained Disciples minister, she earned the MDiv from the Divinity School as a Disciples House Scholar in 2012, and a BA from Duke University. In the Capital Area, she interned with Sojourners, served as pastor of two congregations, and was one of the founding clergy members of the interfaith Congregation Action Network, which works with and on behalf of immigrant and refugee communities. More recently, she was the inaugural director of racial equity initiatives at Interfaith America and served as the social justice coordinator for the National Benevolent Association. She lives in Chicago.