News Releases

October 08, 2020 —  

A beautiful courtyard renovation symbolizes welcome and provides barrier-free access to this historic building. It will be dedicated October 24, 2020, at 1:00 pm, CDT. It will be videocast. Please reply here.

University Christian Church in Seattle, Washington, has honored James E. Stockdale, their esteemed and beloved former minister, with a magnificent gift of $500,000 to the Disciples Divinity House. The gift has enhanced the welcome of this historic building by providing for an ingenious courtyard design and adaptations to the first floor.

An alumnus, longtime trustee, and impassioned advocate of the Disciples Divinity House, Jim Stockdale depicted the House as a “threshold to excellence” for its centennial celebration. How fitting that this gift removes barriers at that threshold. Click here to read more

The videocast will be on a separate page of the DDH site, but also streamed on YouTube

September 15, 2020 —  

A new fund will honor Teresa M. Gilmore, music educator and grandmother of Yvonne T. Gilmore. By creating the fund, the Gilmore family pays tribute to her life and to the enduring power of sacred music, arts innovation, and courageous congregations. The Gilmore family also celebrates the 125th anniversary of the Disciples Divinity House, an institution to which they were first connected through her.

Teresa Marlene Gilmore (1933-2010) grew up in Coffeyville, Kansas, and attended the University of Kansas, receiving a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education in 1955. In 1956, she married Wilfred Gilmore and moved to Sioux City, Iowa, where Mr. Gilmore was serving in the Air Force; they finally relocated to Washington, DC. Soon after her arrival in DC, she met Arthur A. Azlein, a pastor who was introducing himself door-to-door in their neighborhood, and joined the new Michigan Park Christian Church. Azlein, a DDH alumnus, was a fellow Kansan. She was among the first African-American members of the congregation, and became the choir director for the senior choir and a member of the Christian Women’s Fellowship.

A pillar of music education and arts innovation, she was a music teacher in the DC Public School System for over thirty years. She co-directed the Region V Children’s Chorus, which performed throughout the DC metro area and at the 1984 World Exposition in New Orleans. Her passion for music and education converged at Michigan Park, where she steadfastly built the ministry of music for several decades. Some of the students that she mentored in the public schools joined the music ministry of Michigan Park and went on to become accomplished composers and musicians. These included Nolan Williams, who became the music editor of the African American Heritage Hymnal, a publication for which she served on the editorial committee.

She raised three children, Pamela (Steve Washington), David (Margo Gilmore), and Kesha Gilmore (Mark Rich), and, in time, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Yvonne recalls, “When I gave birth to my youngest daughter, my grandmother shifted her retirement and came to live with me, making space on her journey to help with Assata, then a preschooler, while I pursued my MDiv, and later to care for my second daughter, Kharis.”

The final lines of a poem that Yvonne Gilmore composed after her grandmother’s death explain, She was a church charter of the gospel of better not more, better living not more stuff, better eating not more food, better rising for we are all phoenix … / she outgrew straight lines before I ever learned to describe them / she was an epic hymn sung in rounds worth repeating.

September 14, 2020 —  

Two new Disciples Scholars will begin in their MDiv studies this fall. Alexa Dava is part of the leadership team at Gilead Church (alumna Rebecca Anderson is the founding co-pastor); she has been a parent educator at a Chicago nonprofit, and is a graduate of Wheaton College. Ainsley Grey is a 2020 graduate of Carthage College, where she majored in Asian Studies and studied in Japan. She has been a HELM Fellow; alumnus Beau Underwood was her pastor in Jefferson City, Missouri.

Two additional MDiv students are new DDH residents: Emily King, a 2019 graduate of Stanford University, and Shradha Jain, a 2019 graduate of the University of Southern California, where former DDH resident David Albertson was a mentor.

New and returning House residents have been moving in to DDH this week. Administrator Daette Lambert has been directing the effort, which involves reduced occupancy to allow for better social distancing, especially given the community kitchen and shared restrooms. Disciples Divinity House is committed to preventing the spread of COVID-19 and to supporting the health and well-being of its community.

August 17, 2020 —  

Associate Dean Yvonne Gilmore will step into a national leadership position within the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Effective in December, she will become the Interim Administrative Secretary of the National Convocation of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) (NCCC) and the National Christian Missionary Convention (NCMC) for a two-year period. She will be charged with providing the leadership, management, and vision necessary to undergird the ministries of the NCCC and the NCMC, which are historic organizations of Black Disciples. The Administrative Secretary's office is located in the Office of the General Minister and President in Indianapolis. She follows the 17-year tenure of Timothy James. The news was announced on August 15 at the 26th biennial Session of the National Convocation.

"For the last seven years, it has been my great honor to serve as Associate Dean," she commented. "Furthering the pioneering educational work and mission of Disciples Divinity House in collaboration with Dean Culp, the Board of Trustees, staff, students, alumni/ae, and friends has been my daily privilege and joy. Partnering with emerging scholars, ministers, and 'thought leaders' at DDH and across the denomination to activate theological imagination to support and transform our church and world, and working to launch and lead the Constructive Theologies Project has been a rare gift to me. I am grateful for the enduring cloud of witness and inquiry, baptismal audacity, capacious hope, and creativity that I’ve encountered at our 'House.'"

Yvonne Gilmore's many accomplishments as Associate Dean include creative programming for chapel services and Monday forums; the Constructive Theology Project, which has been funded by the Oreon E. Scott Foundation and Reconciliation Ministry; support and mentoring of students; outreach to alumni/ae and support for the Alumni/ae Council; ongoing care for donors; editorial work with the DDH Bulletin, Grail Sightings, and DDH Facebook page; and support for the 125th Anniversary Celebration and Campaign and other major initiatives. In addition, she serves as one of the Core Trainers for the anti-racism/pro-reconciliation work of Reconciliation Ministries, and she is regularly sought as a guest speaker and preacher across the US.  

"This list doesn't begin to capture how admired and beloved she is," added Dean Kris Culp. "She is loyalty personified. Her vision, ideas, and incisive analysis animate meetings and motivate participation. She is generous with insight and with care for others. And, she will always be a DDH alumna. The timing is right for her to move into this crucial arena of ministry and to build on her experience in organizational leadership and theological education and anti-racism work. I could not be more thrilled for her. We have so much to be grateful for and to anticipate eagerly in her next chapter of ministry and leadership."

She will continue as Associate Dean through this fall. That will allow for time for transition, and, importantly, for grateful celebration of her. 

July 08, 2020 —  

John Emory McCaw, who had been DDH’s oldest living alumnus, died on June 29 in Des Moines, Iowa. He was 104. The son of a Disciples minister and one of four siblings, he was born March 3, 1917, to C.C. and Mildred McCaw in the small river town of Lomax, Illinois. His parents served as missionaries in the Philippines for three years before returning to the Midwest and eventually to Des Moines, where he became valedictorian of his high school class and graduated from Drake University. He would return to Drake to become the dean of its Bible College, which he led to full accreditation as Drake Divinity School (now defunct). After retirement, he continued to live on the southside of Des Moines, enjoying good health and beekeeping, gardening, fishing, writing newspaper editorials and two novels, and corresponding with many individuals.

John McCaw entered the Divinity School of the University of Chicago as a Disciples Divinity House Scholar in 1939 and earned his BD degree. He was later a Fellow at Union Theological Seminary and was awarded an honorary doctorate degree by Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis. In 1942, he married Maxine Mae Gambs, a concert pianist who studied at Drake University, the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, and Chicago Musical College. They would raise four children, Clayle, Milva, Maxhn, and Janine, and share 70 years of marriage before her death in 2013.

Mr. McCaw was a member of the Drake faculty from 1950 until 1982. He was instrumental in the construction of Medbury Hall and Scott Chapel and received numerous recognitions, including the Centennial Award, the Dawson Award, the Alumni Distinguished Service Award and the Drake Medal of Service. His leadership to religious and civic organizations included the Des Moines School Board, a mayoral commission, membership in Wakonda Christian Church, service to the regional and general church, and helping to establish the Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center. In 2013 he established the John and Maxine McCaw Scholarship Fund for Prophetic Living, Teaching and Preaching, an endowed scholarship for seminarians which is administered by the College of Regional Ministers.

He is survived by three children, Milva Lou Sandison, Maxhn H. McCaw, and Janine G. McCaw Mack, and by their partners, children, and grandchildren. Memorial plans have not been announced.

June 24, 2020 —  

This was not the year we expected or could even have imagined when DDH began its 125th anniversary year. It has been a challenging but rewarding year. Many of DDH’s students finished the academic year in places they did not expect to be—literally dispersed by pandemic responses, sometimes also finding themselves in unanticipated emotional, intellectual, and spiritual places. The 2020 graduates are nevertheless ready to lead and to serve, even as they know the contexts of leadership and service are changing dramatically.

Confronting us all are realities of health precarity, global interdependency, racist brutality, and social suffering. DDH and its students have been challenged, stressed, horrified, enervated, activated, and animated by these days—often some of each in the same day. Students’ questions—about the nature of community, about how to teach, learn, worship, care, comfort, oppose injustice, bring about transformation, heal, and prevent harm—are lived and very real. Seldom have the purposes and contexts for pursuing vocations of ministry, teaching, and community leadership been more manifest than under the life-altering conditions of economic, social, and racial disparities of health and safety in which we are living.

We don’t yet know exactly what campus life will look like in the fall—the University will announce its plans later this month. But we do know that 3 entering DDH Scholars will join 18 returning Scholars plus additional ecumenical residents in a remarkable community of learning and support. By providing full scholarship support, durable connection, and learning that orients lifelong service, DDH will continue to advance preparation for vocations of vision, understanding, and transformation. Scholarships, staff, and building maintenance will not be reduced. Thanks to the generosity of alumni/ae and friends, DDH is as well situated as we could hope for facing current challenges.  

For the time being, DDH’s physical offices remain closed, as does the rest of the University, but the building is still “home” for ten students, six of whom are international students. DDH will continue to be a physical home next fall, using valuable lessons learned for creating a safe space. Not all 23 student rooms will be occupied in order to allow for more socially distanced interactions. Sitting shoulder-to-shoulder at Monday dinners won’t be possible, but conversation will rise in new forms. Study will continue in the library. The Chapel of the Holy Grail will still beckon and orient. As ever, students will go forth to envision and build new communities and ideas.

For 125 years, alumni/ae and friends have given their fierce dreams, their creativity and canny, and their most demanding ideas, not only to DDH but to the world. When we began this academic year, we could not have imagined the scale and scope of changes that would overtake us. To affirm that we are, nevertheless, grateful for what is to come, is to dedicate ourselves to prepare for a future that we cannot fully anticipate and that, ultimately, we will receive from the hands of others.    Kristine A. Culp, Dean

June 13, 2020 —  

DDH's 125th academic year concluded on June 12 with an online fanfare for the graduates, Kate Gerike, Kevin Gregory, Savannah Gross, and Victoria Wick, including a short celebration, blessing, and sending forth. All four received the Master of Divinity degree. House Scholar Victoria Wick will provide leadership for the Christian Temple in Baltimore this summer during the pastor's sabbatical; this fall she will return to Chicago for extended Clinical Pastoral Education at Northwestern Memorial Hospitals. Her senior ministry thesis was entitled, Salvation Stories. Kate Gerike, whose senior thesis addressed climate change, misplaced hope, and the power of God in the anthropocene, will complete her internship year with an ELCA congregation in Minnesota. Savannah Gross, who like Gerike was an ecumenical DDH resident for all three years of the degree, is now living in Alabama and considering next steps in her journey as a theologian. Kevin Gregory, who has served as DDH's librarian, has been called to service two United Methodist congregations in Minnesota. Special congratulations to Victoria Wick and Kate Gerike who received the Divinity School's highest recognition of MDiv graduates, the John Gray Rhind Award, for excellence in academic and professional training and promise of significant contribution to public ministry.

May 29, 2020 —  

Mark Lambert, a PhD candidate in Theology (pictured), has been awarded a Dissertation Fellowship by the Louisville Institute for 2020-21. His project, "The Sacramental Sickness: The Aesthetic Interplay between Leprosy and the Eucharist in Historical Theology," appraises the relationship between stigmatic illness and historical sacramental theology, especially the medieval Franciscan interpretation of leprosy alongside the sacrament of the Eucharist. Joel Brown, a PhD candidate in Religions in the Americas, has been selected by the Divinity School for the Alma Wilson Teaching Fellowship to support a teaching a course in the College, "Race and Religion in Chicago," that will draw on his archival research. Andrew Packman, a PhD candidate in Theology, was awarded a Dissertation Completion Fellowship by the Divinity School for his work, “The Racial Bondage of the Will: Recalcitrant Moral Self-Frustration, Social Affections, and the Tenacity of Structural Racism.”

MDiv students Aneesah Ettress and Benny VanDerburgh (also pictured) are recipients of Walker Ministerial Scholarships for 2020-21. Named in memory of Disciples leaders Granville T. and Erline Walker, the award recognizes outstanding promise in ministry, particularly in the area of preaching.

March 17, 2020 —  

Effective 3/17 and continuing until further notice, the physical DDH offices will no longer be open on a daily basis. Administrative staff will work remotely. We look forward to hearing from you by email, telephone, mail, and on facebook.

All University of Chicago courses will be taught remotely for the spring quarter. DDH scholarship recipients will receive stipendiary and scholarship support as planned for the spring quarter.

Approximately half of the usual number of students will continue living at DDH during the spring quarter; we believe that this decreased number will help minimize everyone's chances of exposure to the virus. Building maintenance will continue with enhanced cleaning protocols. We are all practicing vigilance for each others' health and learning new habits of mindfulness for each others' well-being.

Monday chapel services, dinners, and programs will be suspended for the spring quarter. Guest rooms will not be available for rental, and groups may not schedule meetings in the building until further notice. The Board of Trustees will hold its April meeting remotely, and the Alumni/ae Council will postpone its meeting until the October.

DDH is following the lead, recommendations, and guidelines of the University of Chicago. Additional details and resources, including health-related contact information, are available at the University’s COVID-19 website, which is constantly being updated. 

These are unusual times and unusually stressful times. Many things basic to everyday student life and the wider context of our lives seems to have shifted and to continue to shift rapidly. I and the DDH staff are committed to this community and its health and safety, as well as to easing whatever stresses we can. We are grateful, too, for the support of alumni/ae and friends, to how our connections and care extend across the miles and the generations.  

Kristine A. Culp, Dean

March 03, 2020 —  

Patricia Duncan and Vy Nguyen have begun elected terms on the Board of Trustees of the Disciples Divinity House, effective January 1. They are both DDH alums. 

Patricia "Tish" Duncan brings the perspective of a rising biblical scholar and professor to her service on the Board. An MDiv and PhD graduate of the University of Chicago, she is Assistant Professor of Religion at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas. She is a New Testament scholar, widely admired teacher, ordained Disciples minister, and the author of Novel Hermeneutics in the Greek Pseudo-Clementine Romance. One of her students, Paige Spencer, became a House Scholar this past fall when she entered the MA program in the Divinity School. She and her family live in Fort Worth.

Vy Nguyen is Executive Director of the Week of Compassion. As 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. He brings global and ecumenical awareness, many years of experience building relationships among churches, volunteers, and partner organizations, and nonprofit expertise to the work of the Board. Previously he worked with Church World Service and the Lutheran Volunteer Corps. An MDiv alumnus of the University of Chicago, and a graduate of Texas Christian University, he is an ordained Disciples minister. He and his family live in Alameda, California.