Mark Lambert, who was DDH’s 2022-23 Faculty Fellow, has accepted an offer as an assistant professor at Des Moines University (DMU). He will be in charge of the bioethics curriculum with half of his time for research. DMU is an osteopathic school of medicine and health sciences, a thriving institution that is building an entirely new campus. To teach in a medical school is a nearly unparalleled opportunity for an alumnus of DDH and the Divinity School. An AM and PhD alumnus of the Divinity School, he has served as a Divinity School Teaching Fellow in the College of the University of Chicago for the past two years.
Administrator Daette Lambert will transition to remote work when she and Mark and their family move to the Des Moines area in mid-August. Dean Kris Culp commented, “DDH is fortunate that her superb leadership will continue. The Board of Trustees and I are grateful for Daette’s commitment and excellent work, and for the pleasure and gift of being able to work with her in the past and into the foreseeable future.” Daette Lambert has been the acting chief of staff during the dean’s sabbatical; Mark has led the PhD dissertation seminar and advised the theological education leadership fellows. Their contributions have helped DDH life and thought to flourish.
Teresa “Terri” Hord Owens was reelected to a second term as General Minister and President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada. Hord Owens is the first African American and second woman to lead the Disciples, and the first African American woman to lead a mainline Christian denomination. She is also a DDH and DIvinity School MDiv alumna, and a former Dean of Students at the Divinity School. This spring she was honored as the Divinity School's Alumna of the Year.
Belva Brown Jordan, the Moderator of the Assembly, led a service of installation on August 1. Pictured here, they were joined by Hord Owen's family and the previous General Minister, Sharon Watkins. Hord Owens was charged with continuing a ministry of visionary love, spiritual leadership, prophetic imagination, and ecumenical service. She encouraged the Assembly to “imagine new ways of being church and to stay at the table no matter what we face. Our commitment to staying at the table is grounded in our covenant relationship with God and with one another.”
The vote took place on the final day of the General Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), which convened in Louisville, Kentucky, from July 29 to August 1, 2023. The nomination process, which was set in motion months ago by the Administrative Committee of the General Board, resulted in the General Board forward her name to the Assembly for consideration. The nomination was readily approved by the Assembly. Read the press release.
Bhikkhu Cetovimutti “Ceto” Cong, MA’22, of Yantai, China, died June 20, 2023, after enduring an extended coma resulting from a tragic bicycle accident in November 2022 in Berkeley, California. He was 34 years old. Ceto was born and raised in China and was ordained as a Theravada Buddhist monastic in Sri Lanka in 2014. He had just begun a PhD at the University of California in Berkeley. He earned an AM degree from the University of Chicago Divinity School in 2022, and he was a Disciples Divinity House resident during 2021-22. Known for his enthusiasm in exploring historical and contemporary religious traditions, Ceto leaves behind a legacy of curiosity and spiritual dedication. He is survived by his mother, Lina Cong. Disciples Divinity House mourns the loss of our friend, Ceto.
Alumnus Samuel C. Pearson is remembered with a major gift directed to future generations.
In 1951 and at the age of nineteen, Samuel Campbell Pearson, Jr., matriculated to the Divinity School and the Disciples Divinity House. He was young for a graduate student and eager for an intellectual journey that would open new worlds for him and others.
Sam Pearson became “a scholar, teacher, administrator, and colleague of uncommon insight, effectiveness, and humanity,” as his 2001 Distinguished Alumnus Award said. When he died in St. Louis on June 10, 2022, he was Professor Emeritus of Historical Studies at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. He served as Dean of SIUE’s School of Social Sciences from 1983-95. He was an essential figure in the life of the Disciples Divinity House and in Disciples higher education.
“The Disciples Divinity House transformed his life,” explained Mary Clay Pearson, who survives her husband. After his death, Mary decided to provide resources for current students who have the same ambition and financial need that a nineteen-year-old Sam Pearson had when he arrived at DDH decades before. Her remarkable vision and generosity made possible a gift of $510,000 for unrestricted endowment funds.
Sam Pearson had first arrived in Chicago from Texas: he was born in Dallas and earned his AB degree cum laude from Texas Christian University. In 1954, after earning his BD degree as a Disciples Divinity House Scholar, he accepted a commission as Navy chaplain and served on active duty in North Africa and at the Great Lakes Training Station. In 1956, he returned to DDH and to the Divinity School, and earned AM and PhD degrees in 1960 and 1964. From 1956-60, he served as Assistant to the Dean under Dean W.B. Blakemore. It was the first of many leadership roles in higher education.
Pearson studied American history and the history of Christianity. He was the recipient of two senior Fulbright Awards to lecture on American history in Chinese universities. After retiring from SIUE in 1998, he taught in China under the auspices of Global Ministries and edited a history of the Foundation for Theological Education in South East Asia (2010). Over the years, Sam and Mary connected with many Chinese students and families in St. Louis.
He served on DDH’s Alumni/ae Council and its Centennial Planning Committee. He was a life member of the Disciples of Christ Historical Society, a board member of the Division of Higher Education, and a mainstay of the Association of Disciples for Theological Discussion. Union Avenue Christian Church minister and friend Thomas V. Stockdale once honored him as “a constant, sometimes frustrated, but relentless voice for every compassionate and enlarging project we undertook.”
Mary Clay Pearson remembered the educational experience that had transformed Sam’s life. Their sons, William Clay “Bill” Pearson and John Andrew Pearson, participated in the decision and John helped to facilitate the gift. This magnificent gift has already made possible an increase of student stipends for the 2023-24 academic year, and it will help to ensure transformative education into the future.
Teresa Hord Owens has been named the Divinity School Alumna of the Year for 2023 by Board of Trustees of the Baptist Theological Union upon recommendation from the Divinity School’s Alumni Council. She will deliver the Alumna of the Year address, “A New Church for a New World,” on Thursday, May 4, 2023, at 4:30 pm, in the Swift Lecture Hall. A reception will follow.
A descendant of one of the oldest African American free settlements in Indiana and a Disciple since young adulthood, Hord Owens was elected the General Minister and President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada in July 2017. She is the first person of color and second woman to lead the denomination – and the first African American woman to lead a mainline Christian denomination. Hord Owens earned her MDiv degree at the Divinity School as a DDH Scholar. Prior to her election as GMP, she served as Dean of Students at the Divinity School and as Senior Minister of First Christian Church of Downers Grove. Read the full news release from the University of Chicago Divinity School.
Alumna Yvonne Gilmore has been named the next Vice President and Chief of Staff of the Office of the General Minister and President. The OGMP provides leadership for the General Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada, and support for the General Minister and President, Teresa Hord Owens. She also leads the development and implementation of the Church Narrative Project, and had recently served as Interim Administrative Secretary of the National Convocation.
She served as Associate Dean of the Disciples Divinity House from 2013-20, helping to lead many initiatives such as the Constructive Theologies Project and the DDH StoryHour. Currently, she co-directs DDH's “Living Justice: An Anti-Racist Practicum” with Sandhya Jha, a justice learning and innovation lab that seeks to test out new approaches for connecting transformative Disciples leaders and ideas. She also serves as a core trainer with Reconciliation Ministries and as adjunct faculty at Lexington Theological Seminary. She earned her MDiv from the Divinity School as a House Scholar in 2001, and was DDH's 2022 Convocation speaker.
She will begin her Vice President and Chief of Staff role on May 1, 2023, succeeding alumna Lee Hull Moses in that role. Read more about the appointment here.
The Disciples Divinity House will mark the close of its 128th academic year and celebrate its graduates on Friday, June 2. Rebecca Anderson, DDH alumna and co-founding pastor of Gilead Church, will speak.
Rebecca is an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). She has a Masters in Divinity from the University of Chicago and a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Playwrighting from Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts. Rebecca’s work can be found across a variety of media, including on Snap Judgment (radio), and podcasts including The Broad Experience and Broccoli & Ice Cream. Active in the Chicago storytelling scene, she’s performed with events like RISK!, 2nd Story, The Moth, and This Much is True. She has brought those experiences and skills to the DDH community through workshops and storyhours (at DDH, in the CCIW, and at the General Assembly). She has also been featured in the Boston Globe and The Christian Century.
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. The first DDH Convocation was held in 1933.
Cynthia Gano Lindner, exemplary minister and mentor, has been selected as the next recipient of the Distinguished Alumna/us Award of the Disciples Divinity House of the University of Chicago. For the past twenty-one years as the Director of Ministry Studies and Clinical Faculty for Preaching and Pastoral Care in the Divinity School of the University of Chicago, she has nurtured, trained, and inspired generations of emerging religious leaders, including many DDH graduates and current students. Under her direction, the Divinity School’s ministry program has been transformed into a flourishing multi-religious program, including a new track in chaplaincy. The award will be presented on August 1 by the Alumni/ae Council in Louisville, Kentucky.
Ms. Lindner is the author of Varieties of Gifts: Multiplicity and the Well-Lived Pastoral Life (2016), and a frequent contributor to Sightings, a publication of the Martin Marty Center at the Divinity School. She directs the Chicago Commons Project, an early-career pastoral leadership development program funded by the Lilly Endowment, Inc. She also practices as a pastoral psychotherapist at the Center for Religion and Psychotherapy. Her teaching and research interests include contemporary ministerial identity and formation, multi-religious theological education, the practice and ethics of preaching and pastoral care in multicultural society, the role of religious communities in addressing communal violence and trauma, and the interface of corporate worship and public witness, and its impact on identity formation and congregational life.
An ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), she previously served three congregations, most notably, a creative long-term pastorate and co-pastorate at First Christian Church in Albany, Oregon. Ms. Lindner’s service to the wider church and community includes an advisory role to the General Commission on Ministry, membership on the General Board of the denomination, and featured preaching and speaking events. In 2001, she was elected to the Board of Trustees of the Disciples Divinity House and continues to serve; prior to that, she had served as a member of the Alumni/ae Council, including as its president. She entered the Divinity School as a Disciples Divinity House Scholar in 1978, after earning her BA from St. Olaf College. She earned AM and DMin degrees from the University of Chicago. In addition, she holds a Masters degree in Marriage and Family Therapy.
Under her leadership, ministry students live and learn together at the intersections of praxis and theory, exploring the models and methods of preaching and pastoral care which are necessary in a multicultural society, and sharing in the wisdom that she has cultivated throughout her career. In her own acts of pastoral presence, she leads by example to help attune those around her to their own multiplicities and possibilities. Frequent speaking engagements--at ordination services, weddings, funerals, conferences, and all manner of other liminal and ritualistic gatherings--testify directly to her centering presence and timely insights in a diversity of contexts. Through her practice as a pastoral psychotherapist, and through her generosity of wisdom, insight, time, attention, curiosity, and care for students and colleagues, she has left an indelible mark upon the spiritual formation of not only the University but the wider Chicago community. She models grounded spiritual leadership, care for the health of religious communities and their leaders, and lifelong service.
The Distinguished Alumna/us Award, established in 1979, recognizes individuals who are exemplars of varied forms of ministry and service; in some sense, they have each defined these forms. Alums and friends are invited to gather on August 1 at the DDH Luncheon at the General Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), meeting in Louisville, Kentucky. The award will be presented and Cynthia Lindner will speak in response.
Tickets can be purchased online through the General Assembly Registration Page or by contacting the Disciples Divinity House.
For more information, please contact Jack Veatch, Director of Student and External Relations, at email@example.com or 773.643.4411.
Alumni/ae and Friends are invited to regather together on August 1 for a Disciples Divinity House Luncheon at the General Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Louisville, Kentucky.
In addition to gathering together, the Distinguished Alumna/us Award will be presented by the Alumni/ae Council.
You can nominate an alumna/us for the award at this link:
Tickets can be purchased as part of your General Assembly Registration:
The University of Chicago Divinity School is pleased to announce the appointment of James T. Robinson, the Caroline E. Haskell Professor of the History of Judaism, Islamic Studies, and the History of Religions in the Divinity School and the College, as Dean of the Divinity School, effective December 1.
Jim has served as Interim Dean of the Divinity School since July 2021. The school has seen notable successes in numerous areas since that time, particularly in faculty and research growth and initiatives. These include hiring two new faculty scholars, expanding the school’s Teaching Fellows program for recent PhD graduates, and piloting the first year of successful teaching of the school’s new undergraduate Core sequence. Under Jim’s leadership, the Divinity School is currently searching for the newly created Tandean Rustandy Distinguished Service Professor in Global Christianities as well as faculty positions in race and religion, early modernities, rabbinic Judaism, and Japanese Buddhism. The school is further broadening and amplifying research and teaching in Jain studies and Islamic studies. Jim has also been instrumental in operationalizing the Martin Marty Center for the Public Understanding of Religion, developing new programming and research projects.
Jim conducts research focused on medieval Jewish intellectual history, philosophy, and biblical exegesis in the Islamic world and Christian Europe. Since joining the University in 2003, he has taught more than 25 courses in the field of medieval Judaism and was recognized with the Faculty Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching and Mentoring in 2017. Jim is the author of four books, three edited volumes, and more than 40 articles and chapters and has been co-editor of The Journal of Religion since 2013.
In addition to his faculty roles in the Divinity School and the College, Jim holds appointments in the Program in Medieval Studies, Religious Studies, Fundamentals: Issues and Texts, and the Joyce Z. and Jacob Greenberg Center for Jewish Studies. He is also an affiliated member of the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. Jim earned his MPhil in oriental studies (modern Jewish studies) from Oxford University, his MA and PhD in near eastern languages and civilizations from Harvard University, and his BA in applied mathematics from the University of California at Berkeley.