Disciples Divinity House

of the University of Chicago

Owens, Jha receive 2018 Alumni Citations awards

October 12, 2018 —  

Sandhya Jha (2001) and Teresa Hord Owens (1999) will be awarded the 2018 Alumni Citations on October 18th, 2018. Jha and Owens were nominated for the awards and selected by the Divinity School Alumni Council. The Alumni Citations honors alumni for their accomplishments and service, seeking to be responsive to timely events in the recipients' lives. Read more about the Alumni Citations award and this year's recipients here.

2018 Incoming Scholars

October 03, 2018 —  

Welcome new Disciples Scholars (L to R): Luke Soderstrom (PhD), Virginia White (PhD), Hiatt Allen (MDiv), and Sarah Zuniga (MDiv). Sarah Zuniga arrived in early September after serving as a Disciples Peace Fellowship Intern this summer. As an undergraduate at Eureka College, she had previously interned with Refugee and Immigration Ministries in Washington, DC, and at the Hong Kierkegaard Library in Northfield, Minnesota. She is interested in ecological ethics, and religious leaderships. Hiatt Allen, a 2017 graduate of American University in Washington, DC, plans to pursue a joint MA in Public Policy. His undergraduate work combined politics, communications, and economics, and it included internships at federal agencies. During a gap year, he interned at Crestwood Christian Church in Lexington, Kentucky. Luke Soderstrom will enter the PhD program in Theology to consider resources in Christian theology and mysticism for thinking about intellectual and developmental disability. He continues to work with Disciples Higher Education and Leadership Ministries (HELM). Virginia White enters the PhD program in Religious Ethics. She is thinking through how globalization and neoliberalism can “render the adjudication and claiming of responsibility irreducibly complex and easily avoided, and implications for reorienting ethical thought." This summer, she has been assisting DDH’s Board and Alumni/ae Council members to prepare for the 125th anniversary. 

Lambert succeeds Peeler as administrator

August 27, 2018 —  

Daette Lambert became administrator of the Disciples Divinity House on August 13, after working part-time as Assistant Administrator for the last three years. She brings six additional years of educational administration experience to the position, including as Staff Assistant to the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs and, subsequently, Admission Counselor for Transfer Programs at Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri, and as Information Manager in the PhD Program Office at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. An alumna of Truman State, she earned a BA in Spanish, and a MAE in Elementary Education. Ms. Lambert and her husband Mark Lambert, a House Scholar and PhD candidate in Theology, are the proud parents of Hogan, Valen, and Mary Mattie. Ms. Lambert succeeds Marsha G.-H. Peeler, who retired after 18 years of service as administrator.

Highlights from Obra Hispana, National Convocation, and NAPAD

August 13, 2018 —  

This summer, the Disciples Divinity House participated in service, learning, and celebration at the Biennial Hispanic Fellowship Assembly, July 12-14, in Tempe, Arizona; the 25th Biennial Session of National Convocation, July 19-22, in Birmingham, Alabama; and the 20th Biennial North American Pacific/Asian Disciples Convocation, August 8-11, in Portland, Oregon, this summer. Associate Dean Yvonne Gilmore attended the Obra Hispana Assembly and National Convocation. Dean Kris Culp was present at the NAPAD Convocation.

Here are some highlights:

1. David Vargas, trustee and alumnus, was one of twelve recipients of the Somos Uno award at Obra Hispana.

2. Claudia Highbaugh, trustee, at National Convocation.

3. Chung Seong Kim was elected and installed as Executive Pastor of NAPAD; DDH alumnus Tim Lee presided as Moderator. Yeahwa Lee and granddaughter are also pictured.

4. Lori Tapia was elected and installed as the National Pastor of Obra Hispana; Disciples General Minister and President and DDH alumna Teresa Hord Owens and Central Rocky Mountain Regional Minister and DDH alumna Joan Bell-Haynes participated in the installation service.

Kagiwada and Williamson named Honorary Co-Chairs for 125th Anniversary Celebration, May 24-26, 2019

July 11, 2018 —  

JoAnne H. Kagiwada and Clark M. Williamson have been named Honorary Co-Chairs for DDH’s 125th Anniversary Celebration. The celebration will be held May 24-26, 2019, Memorial Day weekend, in Chicago. 

“JoAnne Kagiwada and Clark Williamson have given exemplary leadership to the Disciples Divinity House,” said April Lewton, President of the Board of Trustees. “Their life contributions also exemplify what we are grateful for and why we are celebrating 125 years of the Disciples Divinity House.” 

As honorary co-chairs, Ms. Kagiwada and Mr. Williamson will preside over a weekend filled with special events. The 125th Celebration will feature a DDH StoryHour, lectures and discussion, music and worship, a gala dinner at the Quadrangle Club, preaching by Teresa Hord Owens, the second annual Amy Northcutt Lecture, food, festivity, and time to explore the University and the neighborhood. 

JoAnne Hirasuna Kagiwada is currently the longest serving member of the Board of Trustees, having first been elected in 1984. A graduate of UC Berkeley Law (Boalt Hall), her distinguished career has focused on non-profit organizations. As Executive Director of the Legislative Education Committee of the Japanese American Citizens’ League, she helped to ensure passage of a $1.25 billion redress program on behalf of Americans of Japanese ancestry who were unconstitutionally deprived of their civil liberties and incarcerated in concentration camps by the US government during World War II. From 1978-88, she was Director of International Affairs for the Christian Church. She has served on numerous nonprofit boards, including as a vice president of the National Council of Churches. 

Ms. Kagiwada first came to know the Disciples Divinity House through her husband, David Tamotsu Kagiwada, an alumnus and 1954 BD graduate of the Divinity School. Pastor of Crestview Christian Church in Indianapolis at the time of his death in 1985, David Kagiwada was perhaps best known for leading Disciples of diverse and historically antagonistic Asian cultures into the formation of the American Asian Disciples (now NAPAD). In 1995, JoAnne Kagiwada created the David T. and JoAnne H. Kagiwada Fund at DDH. 

Clark M. Williamson is the Indiana Professor of Christian Thought Emeritus at Christian Theological Seminary, and a BD and PhD alumnus of the Disciples Divinity House and the Divinity School. A pioneering architect of post-Holocaust Christian theology, he is an impassioned advocate for theology that is intellectually credible, morally plausible, and consistent with love of God and neighbor. 

He has said that “the purpose of Christian theology is to bring the church to self-understanding and self-criticism,” and those purposes find compelling 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

Mr. Williamson has been a trustee of the Disciples Divinity House since 2007. He and his late wife created the Barbara and Clark Williamson Fund at the Disciples Divinity House. In 2015, DDH’s Alumni/ae Council honored Mr. Williamson with its Distinguished Alumnus Award. 

18 years to the day: Mrs. Peeler set to retire

June 27, 2018 —  

On July 6, eighteen years to the day that she began her position as Administrator of the Disciples Divinity House, Marsha G.-H. Peeler will retire. 

During those 18 years, she has ensured the day-to-day financial and physical well-being of the Disciples Divinity House. Her daily oversight has guided major capital projects, including the restoration of every window in the building and, underway now, replacement of the main roof; she has managed unplanned events with aplomb, such as electrical outages, minor floods, and more. She has administered changes to health insurance coverage and student billing, and planned for Monday dinners, Board meetings, and new students by the dozens.

Mrs. Peeler came to the Divinity House having grown up around the University and with years of experience working in the University herself. She worked at the Divinity School as Assistant Program Coordinator of the Martin Marty Center and faculty secretary, in the Department of Medicine University as a medical secretary, and in the Comptroller's office.   

Head Resident Colton Lott reflects, “I am thankful for Mrs. Peeler, for the knowledge she has (and freely shares!) about the House, the University, and life in Chicago, and for the compassion she showed as she made our House a home.” House resident and office assistant Matthew Johnson celebrated her ability to tell long stories with humor and spirit. He observed that her devotion to the House, as a place and as a set of relations, is more than merely a matter of professional obligation.  

Students and alumni/ae are central to her own reflections. “Look at the students and all of the places that they go. Look at all of the work that they go on to do,” she noted. We know that Marsha Peeler’s work is embedded in the soundness of DDH’s financial accounts and in its windows and walls. And surely part of her indomitable spirit has also accompanied graduates in their relations and vocations. 

Marsha and Walter Peeler are the parents of three adult children, Connie, Brandy, and Christopher, and the proud grandparents of Marsha, Grayson, and Kai’Aire. The Peelers plan to move to Fort Wayne, Indiana, to be near their grandchildren.  

Daette Lambert has been named Administrator effective in August. She has served part-time as Assistant Administrator since July 2015. She brings six additional years of educational administration experience to the position, including as Information Manager in the PhD Program Office at The University of Chicago's Booth School of Business, and, at Truman State University, as Staff Assistant to the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. She and her husband Mark Lambert, a House Scholar and PhD candidate in Theology, are the proud parents of Hogan, Valen, and Mary Mattie. 

Mark Miller-McLemore retires

June 22, 2018 —  

Mark Miller-McLemore is retiring as Dean of the Disciples Divinity House at Vanderbilt Divinity School on June 30 after 23 years of leadership. 

A DDH-Chicago alumnus, he earned his MA at the Divinity School. As Dean of DDH-Vanderbilt, he revitalized house culture, starting monthly House Dinners, an annual retreat, and an end-of-year Graduation Celebration. During his tenure, 103 graduates were ordained, and 14 have completed PhDs. $1.5 million in grants were received, including from the Lilly Endowment for a Transition into Ministry initiative that placed graduates in two-year pastoral residencies.

“I’m grateful for Mark Miller-McLemore’s invaluable leadership to DDH-Vanderbilt,” said Kris Culp. “He’s been my closest colleagueship in Disciples theological education. Both DDHs have been strengthened by the collaboration that Mark has made possible.” 

Mr. Miller-McLemore will continue to teach at Vanderbilt Divinity School in Leadership and Ministry. He is married to fellow DDH-Chicago alumna, Bonnie Miller-McLemore, the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor of Religion, Psychology, and Culture at Vanderbilt; they have three grown sons. He plans to give more attention to family, music, and writing projects, including a book, Theopragmatics, now under contract with Rowman and Littlefield.

2018 graduates honored

June 08, 2018 —  

On June 8, Disciples Divinity House marked the conclusion of its 123rd academic year and celebrated its graduates. These individuals, eight Disciples scholars and one ecumenical resident, received their degrees from the University of Chicago Divinity School in June or will receive them later this year.  

Jonathan Cahill (MDiv) will be a chaplain resident at the Cleveland Clinic. His senior ministry thesis, Can Two Walk Together?, explored “partnership” between the Disciples of Christ and the Community of Disciples in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It built on his summer 2017 travel fellowship, an opportunity made possible through Global Ministries and with DDH funding.   

Hannah Fitch (MDiv) envisions pastoral ministry after one more quarter in Chicago. She served as vice president of the Divinity Students Association (DSA) for two years, and as Director of Alternative-Worship at LaSalle Street Church. Her ministry thesis, Posture and Praxis: A Role for an Evolving Church, looked to sources from Hildegard of Bingen to Larry Bouchard for insight on constructing a spiritual path for the “unchurched” of current times.

Burton Guion (MA) will tutor elementary school children in inner-city Milwaukee through Americorps beginning in August. While at DDH, he has revived the fresh food garden in the backyard. 

Andrew Langford received his PhD in New Testament and Early Christian Literature. His dissertation, Diagnosing Deviance: Pathology and Polemic in the Pastoral Epistles, was advised by Margaret M. Mitchell. He has taught and written on the Bible and disability. In addition to writing and teaching, he serves as Pastoral Associate at Emmaus Lutheran Church in Eugene, Oregon. 

Colton Lott (MDiv) will be ordained June 30 in Ada, Oklahoma, and has been called as minister of First Christian Church, El Reno, Oklahoma. He served as DDH’s Head Resident from 2016-18. His senior ministry thesis, A Theological Exploration of the So-Called Dying Church, combined theological perspectives with the Eriksons’ theory of human development, to suggest how churches can live the span of their existence to its completion, even with “generativity.”  

Joshua Menke (MDiv), who is pursuing ordination in the ELCA, will move to Europe to complete a congregational residency. His senior ministry thesis, The Eschaton Nearby: Contestations of Space and Time at Standing Rock, highlighted implications of Christian eschatology for how communities inhabit place and relate to one another justly. He formerly taught near the Standing Rock reservation.

Luke Soderstrom (MA) will enter the PhD program in Theology at the Divinity School. He will explore questions of interpreting the non-linguistic and non-rational that arise in intellectual and developmental disability using resources from Christian mystical traditions. He serves Disciples Higher Education and Leadership Ministries (HELM) as an assistant to its president, Chris Dorsey. 

Shelly Tilton (MA) has been admitted to the PhD program at the University of Virginia, where she will focus on religion, media, and culture. She has been awarded a summer study fellowship by the Disciples Divinity House to go to Heidelberg, Germany, to the Theologisches Studienhaus (TSH) and for language study. She served as the Divinity School’s representative to the Graduate Students Association.

Virginia White (MDiv) will continue as a PhD student at the Divinity School. She will build on work from her senior ministry thesis, Be Thou My Vision?: Moral Perception in a Neoliberal World, to examine the intersections of political-economy and moral formation in religious ethics. During her MDiv studies, she served as the DSA Treasurer, and completed a DDH-supported internship focused on social justice ministries with the Oakland Peace Center and Week of Compassion in Oakland, California. 

In addition, Kristel Clayville, who participated in a prior convocation, received her PhD for her dissertation entitled, Responsible Hermeneutics: Interpretation of Religious Texts in the Environmental Ethics of Hans Jonas and Holmes Rolston II. She is the Acting Director of the Zygon Center at LSTC, and Senior Ethics Fellow at the MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics at the University of Chicago. She was a visiting professor at Eureka College this year.

Speaking at the Convocation was Pamela James Jones, Vice President of the Board of Trustees and Assistant Professor of Religion and Philosophy at Central Michigan University.

In Memoriam, Hubert G. Locke, Trustee, Scholar, and Civic Leader

June 05, 2018 —  

Hubert Gaylord Locke, former DDH Trustee, died on June 2 at his home in Seattle. He was 84.

An admired and consequential civic leader, scholar, and minister, Hubert Locke was the John and Marguerite Corbally Professor of Public Service Emeritus at the University of Washington, where he also served as Dean of the Evans School of Public Affairs and Vice Provost for Academic Affairs. Previously he taught at Wayne State University and the University of Nebraska-Omaha.

His scholarship delved into matters of conscience, religion, and public life, particularly, the Holocaust. He was a co-founder of the Annual Scholars Conference on the Holocaust and the Churches and a former member of the Committee on Conscience of the US Holocaust Museum. He was the author or editor of eleven volumes, including Searching for God in Godforsaken Times and Places: Reflections on the Holocaust, Racism, and Death (2003) and his definitive The Detroit Riot of 1967, reissued on the fiftieth anniversary of the event with a new afterword.

Mr. Locke was born on the Old West Side of Detroit, Michigan, on April 30, 1934. He earned a BA (Latin and Greek) from Wayne State University in 1955; a BD from the University of Chicago in 1959; and a MA in Comparative Literature from the University of Michigan in 1961.

After graduating from the University of Chicago, he became the minister of the Church of Christ of Conant Garden in Detroit and executive director of the Citizens’ Committee for Equal Opportunity, a civil rights organization. Even though Detroit had received “national acclaim as a model community in race relations in the United States,” as Mr. Locke put it, black neighborhoods knew the reality of police brutality. In 1966, he was recruited by the mayor to work with the Detroit police commissioner, and played a pivotal role in mitigating the effects of the 1967 riot.

Throughout his life, he continued to advise mayors, governors, and university presidents. His role in public life was once described as “a sort of civic-wise-man-in-residence, counseling patience and understanding in politicians and offering a voice of reason on contentious issues from race relations to growth management.”

For his public service and scholarship, he was awarded seven honorary doctorates and numerous other honors. He was first elected a trustee of the Disciples Divinity House in 1998 and served consecutive terms until 2014. He made estimable contributions to Board deliberations, regularly engaged DDH students, and helped to attune DDH to the future.

His 2007 charge to DDH’s graduates distills his own lifework: Whatever else you do, in whatever post to which you go, wherever you find yourself and whomever you become, … remember that people apparently thought of Jesus first and foremost as a prophet—as one who spoke God’s truths to his time, as we believe he does to all ages. That’s what you must do, wherever you find yourself, willing, ready and able to speak truth to power, to speak out on behalf of the oppressed, the poor, the dispossessed, the marginalized, to those who have the ability to make a difference in the world they confront, but who would just as soon forget or ignore the fact that such people exist.

He is survived by a sister, Joyce Bridgeforth; daughters Gayle P. Simmons and Lauren M. Locke; a grandson and two great-grandchildren. A memorial service will be held on July 28 at University Christian Church in Seattle, where he was a longtime member.

James Jones to speak at Convocation; Peeler to be honored

May 17, 2018 —  

A Convocation Service with dinner to follow on June 8 will mark the close of DDH's 123rd academic year. Pamela James Jones, Vice-President of the Board of Trustees and Assistant Professor of Religion and Philosophy at Central Michigan University, will speak. She is an MDiv and PhD graduate of the Divinity School and a former DDH Resident. A special feature of the evening's events will be the opportunity to honor the distinguished service of Marsha G.-H. Peeler, who will retire as Administrator on July 6.  

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. 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.