Disciples Divinity House

of the University of Chicago
August 15, 2015 —  

Dean Kris Culp has been named one of 35 international scholars in the Enhancing Life Project, an interdisciplinary research project funded by the John Templeton Foundation at the University of Chicago and in collaboration with the Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany. The Project “explores an essential aspiration of human beings that moves persons and communities into the future. Given the profound expansion of human power through technology as well as advances in genetics, ecology, and other fields, the vulnerability and endangerment as well as the enhancement of life are dominant themes in the global age.”

Her research proposal is entitled “Glorious Life?” Her research will examine "glory" as a potential theological resources for thinking about the enhancement of vulnerable life. She plans to engage historical-theological debates about the glory of made things, such as architecture, and develop interdisciplinary reference points, especially the paintings of Mark Rothko, to offer a contemporary construal of glory.

The Enhancing Life Project began July 1, 2015, and continues through August 31, 2017. It includes a two-week summer seminar for each of the next three years to foster collaboration as well as to support individual research and writing. This year's seminar was held July 26 - August 9 at the Banff Center in the Canadian Rockies.

July 22, 2015 —  

Clark M. Williamson has been selected as Distinguished Alumnus. He was honored on July 21 at the DDH Luncheon at the General Assembly of the Christian Church(Disciples of Christ) meeting in Columbus, Ohio, where he gave his distinguished alumnus address. The Alumni/ae Council received several nominations for the award at their meeting in late April. They ultimately made a unanimous decision for Mr. Williamson, who is the Indiana Professor of Christian Thought Emeritus at Christian Theological Seminary, where he also served as Dean, and a pioneering architect of post-Holocaust Christian theology.

A prolific author and co-author of numerous volumes, he is greatly esteemed as a teacher and colleague, and he is one of the foremost theologians of his generation. He has said that "the purpose of Christian theology is to bring the church to self-understanding and self-criticism," and those purposes find exemplary expression in two of his most acclaimed books, A Guest in the House of Israel: Post-Holocaust Church Theology and Way of Blessing, Way of Life: A Christian Theology. He has been a compelling advocate for rethinking Christian theology, teaching, and preaching in light of Christian anti-Jewishness, and he has fostered that work in his writing and teaching, especially in the books noted above, in courses in seminaries, congregations, and synagogues, and in the three-volume lectionary commentary series, "Preaching without Prejudice," that he co-authored with Ronald J. Allen. He is a trustee of the Disciples Divinity House.

July 21, 2015 —  

Dean Kris Culp discussed women, leadership, and institutional change with three other female heads of Disciples-related schools at the General Assembly of the Christian Church, on Monday, July 20. The panel discussion was featured at the Higher Education and Leadership (HELM) dinner at the General Assembly in Columbus, Ohio. It was moderated by HELM President Chris Dorsey. Other panelists were Lexington Theological Seminary President Charisse Gillett, Culver Stockton College President Kelly Thompson, and Hiram College President Lori Varlotta. The panel discussed important positive changes in higher education institutions for women over the last 30 years, challenges women leaders still face in higher education, and how having more women in leadership affects higher education.

July 15, 2015 —  

Daette Lambert will become Assistant Administrator on a part-time basis, effective July 15. A summa cum laude BA and MA honors graduate of Truman State University, she brings six years of experience in educational administration. That experience includes two years at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business as Information Officer for the PhD Program office and two separate tenures at Truman State University as Staff Assistant to the Provost and, most recently, as Admissions Counselor for Transfer Programs. She also brings familiarity with DDH’s mission and students from her participation in its programs with spouse Mark Lambert, who has just finished his first year of PhD work as a House Scholar.

The term position coincides with Kris Culp’s grant from the Enhancing Life Project, which funds the dean's partial release time from July 1, 2015 - August 31, 2017 and thereby makes funding available for staff coverage. Ms. Lambert will work closely with the dean and with Administrator Marsha Peeler to undergird ongoing work and special projects.

June 08, 2015 —  

Alumna Lee Hull Moses has become President of the Board of Trustees.She is Senior Minister of First Christian Church in Greensboro, North Carolina, and serves on the board of the North Carolina Council of Churches and has been involved in the Young Clergy Women’s Project. She received the BA degree from Albion College and MDiv from the Divinity School, and is the co-author of two books, most recently Hopes and Fears: Everyday Theology for New Parents and Other Tired, Anxious People. Her writing has appeared in a number of online and print publications, including the Christian Century.

Former president Chad Martin handed her the gavel at the April Board meeting. He became President of the Board of Trustees in 2010 after having served as its Treasurer for several years. He led DDH in successfully navigating the harsh effects of the economic downturn and ultimately in strengthening its financial position, while also fostering a creative, collaborative spirit of Board leadership.

Toasting Mr. Martin’s leadership, his predecessor Larry Bouchard wrote: Let me redefine “toast” as the pouring out of gratitude…. I am grateful for the “calm of mind” (a phrase from Milton in an entirely different context)—the calm of mind with which he has led the Board from the depths of the financial crisis our country faced and the House as well to the position we are in now, as strong as ever. He was able to pour himself into the part of being a good Board member and then a good President who … both gave and took good counsel from the dean and other chairs of the various committees. Pouring oneself into a part for others is, for me, a crucial category of love and friendship. And I am most grateful for Chad’s becoming a great friend to me—just as he has been a great friend to the House and its mission to the House Scholars. So Chad, to your calm mind, astute intelligence, good will, and great capacity for friendship, I raise this imaginary glass of sherry for a job exceedingly well done. You have all our gratitude.

Since 2012 Mr. Martin has been the CFO of P2 Energy Solutions, Denver, Colorado. Chad has an MBA from Stanford University and a BBA from Texas Christian University.

The new Vice President is Pamela James Jones, professor at Central Michigan University, MDiv and PhD graduate of the Divinity School, and a former DDH Resident. Paul Steinbrecher, an architect with Interactive Design Architects (IDEA) in Chicago, has become the Secretary of the Board. Mareta Smith, a Kansas City-based attorney, continues as Treasurer.

Alumnus Michael E. Karunas began service as a trustee with the April meeting. Since 2012, he has been Senior Minister of Central Christian Church in Decatur, Illinois, and previously served in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and in Centralia, Illinois. He is a graduate of Butler University (BA) and the Divinity School (MDiv). Growing up in Ann Arbor, Michigan, he was mentored by DDH alumnus Russ Fuller. Mr. Karunas, in turn, has been a mentor to current Scholar Andrew Packman and incoming Scholar, Hannah Fitch. He has served on the Alumni/ae Council, the Week of Compassion Advisory Committee, and, from 1991-93, as a Global Mission Intern with the Division of Overseas Ministries in (East) Germany.

April 30, 2015 —  

Ayanna Johnson Watkins will be the speaker at the 2015 Convocation, to be held Friday, June 12, beginning at 6:00 pm. DDH's Convocation is a formal service that marks the end of the academic year and celebrates the achievements of graduating Disciples House Scholars and ecumenical community members.

As Director of the National Benevolent Association's Incubate Initiative, Ms. Johnson Watkins seeks out and supports the development of new health and social service ministries as well as the Disciple social entrepreneurs who are starting them. After earning her BA in Sociology from Yale University, she earned the MDiv and MA in Social Service Administration degrees from the University of Chicago as a Disciples Divinity House Scholar. Ordained in 2004, she was the organizing pastor for Family of Hope Christian Church in the Chicago area. She has also served as a community organizer, a counselor for at-risk youth and adults with mental illness, and an advocate for public aid clients. For five years, she was the Director of Community Life at Chicago Theological Seminary. A former First Vice Moderator of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), she has written for Disciples publications, published in The Christian Century magazine, and spoken on leadership, mentoring communities, domestic violence, and youth development. She and her husband, Rich, call Memphis home.

Convocation is held in the Chapel of the Holy Grail on the last Friday of the quarter. DDH's Convocation precedes the University’s Spring Convocation, which takes place in the main quadrangle on Saturday. The first DDH Convocation was held in 1933. Recent speakers have included Larry Bouchard, Don Browning, Frank Burch Brown, W. Clark Gilpin, Ana Gobledale, Claudia Highbaugh, Sandhya Rani Jha, Verity Jones, JoAnne Kagiwada, Hubert Locke, Daisy Machado, Holly McKissick, Mark Miller-McLemore, Lee Hull Moses, Stephanie Paulsell, David Vargas, Clark Williamson, and Geunhee Yu.

April 06, 2015 —  

Charles Harvey Lord, pastor of University Church from 1970 to 1989 and an alumnus of the Disciples Divinity House, died on April 3, 2015. The following is adapted from University Church's remembrance. A native of Little Rock, Arkansas, he received his BA from Phillips University in 1945, and was ordained into the ministry in 1947. He received his BD from Union Theological Seminary in 1952. He entered the University of Chicago as a Disciples Divinity House Scholar, and received an MA from the Divinity School in 1965 and, later, a PhD.

After graduating from Phillips University, he married May Sweet (she was also a Phillips graduate). They raised three children, Timothy, Stephen, and Marilyn, and would share 63 years of marriage before her death in 2011. Three months after they were married, Harvey and May Sweet Lord began serving through the Disciples' Overseas Ministries in the Philippines. According to the DOM website, the Lords "desired to serve in one of the places that had suffered under occupation during WWII." They served from 1947-51, first at Northern Christian College (Laoag, Ilocas Norte) and next at the Christian Training School in Vigan. Finally, they went to Kabugao Apayao to work with the Apayao mountain tribe, where Harvey Lord founded and directed the Apayao High School which is still thriving today. He served as pastor of First Christian Church in Edmond, Oklahoma, as the founding pastor of the Christian Church in Villa Park, Illinois, and as Dean of Students at the Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis. He began his ministry at University Church in 1970, serving as co-minister with Charles Bayer until 1973 and with Peg Stern from 1973 to 1982. Long-time University Church member Madeleine Hamblin recalls, "Harvey was dynamic and not afraid to try new things, including a co-ministry with a female pastor and inviting folks to form a dance ministry at the church. He was instrumental and visionary when University Church combined with a mostly African American church and when he led the church in becoming a nuclear-free zone, a sanctuary church, and an open and affirming church when such things were quite daring."

After their retirements, Harvey and May Sweet Lord continued their witness for justice in many ways, among them, by becoming the cofounders of the Disciples Justice Action Network (DJAN). Late in his life, Mr. Lord lived with Parkinson's disease. Julian DeShazier, Senior Minister of University Church and a DDH Trustee, commended him as "a courageous example of the force of life."

Harvey Lord died on Good Friday. The words of his own 1983 Easter prayer seem apt: "Surprising God, Why do you startle us by turning up now in our midst?// Have we not learned your regular behavior? Recorded your ways in a book? Studied your coming and going in our schools? Explained your habits to the young?// Why, then, do you act in ways we do not expect? Hiding from us, then arriving unannounced?// And even now you surprise us, peeking at us from the crocus bud, dancing in the sparkle of a child’s eye, joining in where ordinary people talk of justice, standing on the stand with that witness there who will not deign to lie...." A memorial service is planned for Saturday, May 2, 2015, 1:00pm, at University Church.

March 30, 2015 —  

Spring quarter began today, March 30. Its arrival also brings a new schedule of Monday events. A number of forums will feature theological reflection that joins experiential knowledge and extensive research. Monday dinner chef Erika Dornfield, who received her MDiv from the Divinity School last Friday, recently made a return trip to Tanzania with an ELCA delegation; she will speak about environmental ethics in Tanzania on April 13. On April 24, we'll host a conversation with alumna Sandhya Jha, Founder of the Oakland Peace Center, on her new book on race in America.

Many seasons of preparation for the future will culminate for our graduates this quarter. The senior ministry thesis, required of graduating MDiv students at the Divinity School, provides an opportunity for in-depth practical theological research on an issue in ministry. House Scholars Jeremy Fuzy and Allie Lundblad will give public presentations of their projects on May 4 and 11. Spring Convocation, June 12, will recognize the achievements of our graduates and the conclusion of DDH's 120th academic year.

February 18, 2015 —  

"A night of true stories," originally planned for March 2 is now scheduled for March 9 at 7pm. If you are a fan of "This American Life" or "The Moth" on public radio, you are going to love this: stories curated by alumna Rebecca Anderson. A related event at the CCIW Regional Assembly was a grand success, and this event brings the art of storytelling to the DDH Common Room. Some of the storytellers are DDH's own, and they have been preparing their stories with Ms. Anderson's expert help. Please note that the chapel service that evening will feature the theme of storytelling as well.

The change in the schedule is related to the recently announced event at the Divinity School, "Lessons from Selma: Then and Now," which will be held on Monday, March 2, in Swift Hall at 6:00pm with reception to follow. That event will be moderated by Prof. Dwight Hopkins and will include accounts by two Divinity faculty members, Martin Marty and Franklin Gamwell, who traveled to Selma for the Selma to Montgomery march fifty years ago in 1965, as well as reflections by Professors Curtis Evans and Jane Dailey.

January 06, 2015 —  

"The start of winter quarter heralds new opportunities for learning and collaboration at the Disciples Divinity House," says Associate Dean Yvonne Gilmore. "We invite you to be in conversation and interaction with us on Monday nights or from afar via our website or Facebook page." The full schedule is available online.

Disciples minister and New Testament scholar Stephanie Buckhanon Crowder will preach at our first chapel service of the quarter on Monday, January 12. An author, speaker, teacher, and Disciples minister, she earned her PhD from Vanderbilt University and writes on issues related to Bible in the public square and religion and pop culture. She also serves as Director of Theological Field Education at Chicago Theological Seminary. Following dinner that same night, PhD students Andrew Packman and Joel Brown will lead the quarter's first Disciples History and Thought seminar in considering worship and unity at the mid-twentieth century. They will look at essays produced by the Panel of Scholars just prior to the restructure and merger that created the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Prof. Clark Gilpin will lead the second Disciples History and Thought seminar on February 23.

Forums will take up a variety of themes this quarter. Dr. Elizabeth Kieff, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Assistant Dean for Student Affairs at the University's Pritzker School of Medicine, will explore health and spirituality within the context of student life on January 26. Raúl Zegarra, House resident and PhD student in Theology, will talk about his study of liberation and political theologies on February 16. We look forward to exploring fiction and historical narratives with Divinity School Professor Lucy Pick in a forum on February 2 as she discusses her new novel, Pilgrimage, and to learning and participating in the art of storytelling on March 9 (note new date) in a chapel service and forum led by alumna Rebecca Anderson, Associate Minister of Glencoe Union Church.