News & Events
Dr. Mark David Parsons
Dr. Mark David Parsons, cherished colleague, respected advisor, and dear friend has passed away peacefully from cholangiocarcinoma, the morning of June 3, 2015, in Bend, Oregon, surrounded by his beloved family including wife Jeanne’Marie and parents Rev. David and Avalon Parsons.
Mark was named Disciples Seminary Foundation's Dean Emeritus in Claremont in March of 2014 in recognition of his 16 years of service to DSF and its students. He was Vice Dean for Academic Programs at Claremont School of Theology, where he also served as Assistant Professor of Religion and Music. He taught in the areas of music and worship, theology and the arts, and religion and popular culture. He earned a Ph.D. in Liturgical Studies from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley as a DSF student, and spent 10 years as a church music director, first at Twin Oaks Christian Church, then at Lafayette Christian Church, and later at San Ramon Valley United Methodist Church as their Minister of Music before joining the DSF staff in 1998.
In his evolving roles at DSF and CST, from Director of Special Studies (1998-2005), to DSF/CST faculty position (2005-2014), to Interim Chair of Disciples Studies (2010-2011) and finally to Dean (Emeritus) (2011-2015) as well as Vice Dean (2011-2013) and Interim Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty (2013) at CST, Mark served and advanced both Disciples students and Disciples scholarship, offering advice with grace and good humor, and offering challenges that pushed past simple comfort and motivated radical yet responsible change and growth.
Mark’s friends and colleagues began the Mark David Parsons Endowed Scholarship Fund in 2011, to recognize each year a Disciples ministerial student with gifts in music, worship, or practical theology. Recipients have included Hun Choi, Caroline Hamilton-Arnold, and Al Lopez.
Condolences for the family or donations to the Parsons Scholarship Fund may be sent to Disciples Seminary Foundation, 300 West Foothill Boulevard, Claremont, CA 91711.
Paul Harmon Randels
Captain Paul Harmon Randels, age 81, retired U.S. Navy, died peacefully in Charlottesville, VA, on January 18, 2015, after a lingering illness of several months. Formerly from San Diego, CA, Paul had a long career of 20 years as a Naval orthopedic surgeon, serving in several posts: Pensacola, FL; Portsmouth, VA; Iwakuni, Japan; Los Angeles and finally San Diego, CA. He served two tours of duty in Vietnam, and was awarded the Bronze Star for his service there. He spent three years as Chief of Orthopedics at the Balboa U.S. Naval Hospital in San Diego, and after his Navy retirement served with Kaiser Permanente in San Diego, eventually becoming Chief of Orthopedics there for several years.
Paul was very active in his home church, University Christian Church of San Diego. He was a strong leader in that church, serving in a variety of leadership capacities and singing regularly in the church choir. He may be best remembered in his church for leading thirty homebuilding trips to Tijuana, Mexico, to build new homes for homeless and indigent families there. He also served part time as a consulting physician at the Red Cross Hospital in Tijuana.
Throughout his lifetime, Paul was a great supporter of the arts and of higher education. He served as Board of Trustees Chair for Disciples Seminary Foundation from July 2001 through June 2004. Memorials gifts may be given in his honor to the Paul and Marilyn Randels Scholarship Fund at University Christian Church, to support graduate students pursuing various fields of study. (Checks should be made out to UCC, with “Randels Scholarship” on the memo line.)
A memorial service celebrating Paul's life will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, March 14, 2015 at University Christian Church, 3900 Cleveland Avenue, San Diego.
Bentley Stewart Preaches Senior Sermon
Montgomery Chapel at San Francisco Theological Seminary on Friday, October 3, 2014. The scripture reading was selected verses of the dialogue between Moses and God in Exodus 32 & 33.
Bentley's service can be viewed at this link: Why Seminary?
Awards to DSF's 2014 Graduates
Disciples Seminary Foundation is pleased to recognize the following graduates who were individually honored at their respective commencement ceremonies in May.
From Claremont School of Theology
Caroline Joan Hamilton (MDiv)
Timothy Charles Murphy (PhD)
Chalice Book Awards
Nora B. Jacob (from CST)
Caroline Joan Hamilton (from DSF)
Church of the Good Shepherd Preaching Award
Caroline Joan Hamilton
Michael Stephen Kosik
Hoyt Hickman Award for Outstanding Liturgical Scholarship
Caroline Joan Hamilton
Jeanne Audrey Powers Award from the Center for Sexuality, Gender, and Religion for ecumenicism and inclusiveness in the life of the Church
Thea Leticia Mateu Zayas
From Pacific School of Religion
Paul Wesley Yinger Preaching Award
We would also like to acknowledge one of our regional scholars, Chad Thompson, who recently graduated from Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary with a Master of Divinity degree.
Lastly, we warmly congratulate Claudia Diaz, Daniel Escamilla, Adrian Salgado, Luis Sandoval, and Gerardo Suastegui for graduating from the Certificate of Ministry Studies program in San Diego on June 7.
Honoring Rev. Dr. Dick Cunningham for 19 Years of Service
After nineteen years of serving in instruction and a variety of leadership roles at Seattle University's School of Theology and Ministry, Rev. Dr. Richard (Dick) Cunningham will be transitioning into retirement.
So much has changed in the past 20 years that it is difficult imagining the distance that existed between Protestant and Catholic educators in the years prior to the founding of Seattle University's School of Theology and Ministry. When Dr. Cunningham took a position at the Institute for Theological Studies (ITS), it had a long history of preparing mostly Catholic women and men for ministry. He was not only taking on a complicated job, he was pioneering a new kind of school that brought intentional diversity and difference into the ranks of the faculty in preparation for doing the same thing more dramatically with the student body. Now, almost two decades later, Seattle University's School of Theology and Ministry has an international reputation for bringing all kinds of difference under one roof and working with the challenges that occur in any truly diverse group. But, as Dean Mark S. Markuly, PhD shares, "It took a special kind of person to take those first steps."
President Stephen J. Sundborg, SJ has acknowledged the contributions of Dr. Cunningham with the award of Faculty Emeritus.
DSF Announces Fourth Partner School, New Full-Tuition Scholarships
Disciples Seminary Foundation is proud to announce that on May 9, 2014, DSF signed a partnership agreement with San Francisco Theological Seminary in San Anselmo, CA. SFTS is the fourth school to be in partnership with DSF, joining Claremont School of Theology in Claremont, CA (DSF partner school since 1960); Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA (partner since 1987); and Seattle University School of Theology and Ministry in Seattle, WA (partner since 2011).
With this partnership comes a remarkable tuition scholarship agreement: Any Disciples student who is admitted to SFTS and pursues the M.Div. degree, M.A. in Theological Studies, or the Graduate Theological Union common M.A. is guaranteed to receive a minimum of 60% off of tuition costs from SFTS. With DSF’s 40% off of tuition, tuition costs are guaranteed to be covered in full for these students.
Furthermore, Claremont School of Theology and DSF have also come to a new scholarship agreement: Beginning this fall, all incoming Disciples students attending Claremont School of Theology in pursuit of the M.Div. degree who hold a college GPA of 3.0 or above will be guaranteed at least 60% off of tuition costs. With DSF’s 40% off of tuition, many students will be able to attend CST with at least 100% of tuition costs covered, for both the residential and online/hybrid M.Div. programs.
Partner schools Pacific School of Religion and School of Theology and Ministry will continue their valued partnerships with DSF, offering excellent education and generous support to attending Disciples students.
Remarks from DSF President, Rev. Dr. Jon L. Berquist:
"SFTS and DSF have shared a rich history of cooperation, most particularly through the Institute of Continuing Ministry Studies (based in Claremont during the 1980s and 1990s), through shared office space for SFTS's Southern California programs, and through the mutual support of many M.Div. students at SFTS in Southern California. Disciples ministers have been studying at SFTS for decades. Some of our strongest pastors and leaders have attended SFTS's San Anselmo campus or the former Southern California program, and DSF has been very proud of these graduates. DSF has granted financial aid to numerous M.Div. students at SFTS's Northern California campus over the past fifty years, and our new agreement will enable DSF to provide greater care and resources for our students now and in the future.
We're blessed to know that from now on, almost all DSF M.Div. students will receive full-tuition scholarships. We know that student debt -- and the educational debt of new pastors -- is a significant problem for the church and its future. Through our historic partnership with CST and our new affiliation with SFTS, DSF is grateful to be able to offer a large number of full-tuition scholarships to our master's degree students at SFTS and our M.Div. students at CST.Furthermore, because Claremont School of Theology's M.Div. degree is also available in online/hybrid format, a student can receive the full-tuition scholarship and take online courses from their own hometown. When students travel to the Claremont campus, they'll be part of a thriving Disciples community and be able to meet DSF staff and local pastors for mentoring opportunities.
DSF believes that seminary is not just for those who can afford the high cost of a graduate degree. Effective preparation for ministry should be available to all those whom God calls. Our goal is to build a strong team of ministers for the future of the church, with people of different backgrounds, gifts, and callings. I’m confident that with these new agreements and our ongoing work with all partner schools, we will continue to meet this goal."
Remarks from Disciples Seminary Foundation Board of Trustees Chair, Rev. Dr. Donald R. Sarton:
"In the last three years, DSF's student body has increased by 20%, even at a time when some schools have been shrinking. We believe that our approach of ecumenical partnerships, multicultural education, strong mentoring and networking, and rigorous education has been a great benefit to the church, and the availability of so many full-tuition scholarships will make the seminary experience much more accessible to Disciples across the country."
About San Francisco Theological Seminary:
San Francisco Theological Seminary was founded in 1871, and has been located in San Anselmo, California, since 1892. SFTS is accredited by WASC and ATS, and offers M.Div., M.A.T.S., and D.Min. degrees. The school is one of the founding members of the Graduate Theological Union. SFTS is one of the institutions of the Presbyterian Church (USA), but has been educating students for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for at least 50 years. Half of the student body and faculty represent ecumenical Protestantism.
Dr. Frank Burch Brown to serve as DSF Dean in Northern California
Disciples Seminary Foundation is proud to announce that Dr. Frank Burch Brown will be our new Dean in Northern California, beginning August 1, 2014. In this role, he will serve as advisor to all DSF students in Northern California, work in the DSF office at Pacific School of Religion, represent DSF at the Graduate Theological Union, and actively participate in DSF events. Dean Brown will also serve as the CARE/GTU Visiting Professor of Art and Religion for the Center for Arts, Religion and Education.
President Jon L. Berquist is pleased at the addition of Dean Brown to the DSF staff. He comments, "Frank Burch Brown is a highly respected professor, known widely as one of the most significant scholars in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and beyond. His students know him as a fabulous teacher and as a very strong, compassionate mentor. This combination is exactly what our students need, and Frank will lead them to be better thinkers, listeners, and leaders for our church and our world."
Dean Brown has been Kershner Prof. of Religion and the Arts at Christian Theological Seminary and was for three recent springs the A. Campbell Visiting Prof. of Religion and the Arts at the Univ. of Chicago Divinity School. In 2003 Burch Brown was the inaugural Henry Luce Visiting Professor in Theology and Art at St. John's School of Theology–Seminary in Collegeville, MN. Author of five books, including the award-winning Good Taste, Bad Taste, and Christian Taste (Oxford Univ. Press, 2000), he is editor of the Oxford Handbook of Religion and the Arts (Oxford UP, 2015), is Senior Editor in Religion and the Arts for the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Religion, and is composer of over 20 commissioned musical works. He was Interim Dean for CTS in 2009 and has been active on boards of several organizations in religion and the arts, including the Society for Arts in Religious and Theological Studies, and Theology Through the Arts (directed by Jeremy Begbie) at the University of Cambridge. He gave the Walter Hussey Lecture in Christianity and the Arts at Oxford University in 1993.
Rev. Belva Brown Jordan to serve as DSF Interim Dean
Disciples Seminary Foundation is proud to announce that Rev. Belva Brown Jordan, Associate Dean for Curriculum & Assessment and Associate Professor of the Practice of Ministry at Claremont School of Theology, will be our Interim Dean in Claremont beginning July 1, 2014. In this role, she will serve as advisor to all DSF students in Southern California, work in the DSF office, represent DSF at CST, and continue her already active participation at DSF events. Dean Jordan will maintain her role at CST during her DSF service in 2014-2015.
Dean Jordan’s experience with higher education and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) spans twenty-eight years. After earning degrees at Texas Christian University and Brite Divinity School, she began her ministerial career as Director of Racial/Ethnic Ministries within the Division of Homeland Ministry in Indianapolis. Before making the transition to theological education, Dean Jordan also served as the denomination’s Director of Youth Ministry. Her first faculty appointment was with Lancaster Theological Seminary, with primary assignments in Field Education and The Practice of Ministry. After serving eight years at Lancaster (earning tenure and serving as Dean of the Faculty), Dean Jordan moved to Cambridge, MA to work as Assistant Dean for Student Life at Harvard Divinity School. When the opportunity to serve in a Disciples-affiliated seminary presented itself, Dean Jordan moved to Tulsa to become the Associate Dean for Admissions and Student Services at Phillips Theological Seminary. Dean Jordan moved to Claremont in the summer of 2013 to begin her work at Claremont School of Theology, which also involved service to Claremont Lincoln University during 2013-2014. Already in this first year in California, Belva has become a good friend and a great support for DSF, our students, and the regional church.
DSF Dean Emeritus Mark Parsons commends the hire: "I am delighted that Belva will join the DSF staff. She is deeply committed to ministry among and with the Disciples of Christ and brings with that commitment valuable wisdom and a remarkable breadth of experience. As a dedicated teacher, effective administrator, and caring mentor, she is uniquely qualified to serve as DSF Interim Dean in Claremont."
President Jon Berquist is honored to call Dean Jordan a DSF colleague and remarks, "Belva is well-known throughout our denomination for her exemplary service, and has already become a trusted part of the CST community. She will be a great addition to DSF and will keep us moving forward in the year ahead."
NAPAD announces a new office at DSF in Claremont!
In addition to NAPAD’s offices in Indianapolis, NAPAD will open a “Mission Center” office on the west coast. This will allow NAPAD to best serve the many Pacific/Asian Disciples churches and communities that are densely populated in the westernmost states. In the spirit of cooperation and solidarity with NAPAD ministries, DSF will be providing this office space at their Claremont building.
As Rev. Chun has said, “I am…very thankful to [DSF] for their sincere cooperation with NAPAD ministries. The NAPAD office at DSF in Claremont will be surely effective for NAPAD seminarians’ education, our church planting program, and leadership training, as well as other ministerial activities.”
DSF President, Dr. Jon L. Berquist, echoes the sentiments: “[NAPAD’s move to Claremont] supports two very important DSF goals: preparing the next generation of leaders for all of our racial/ethnic communities, and making sure every one of our graduates understands the breadth and variety of the church. I'm very grateful to Jinsuk and to the NAPAD board for partnering with DSF in this way.”
NAPAD’s Claremont office will open at 300 W. Foothill Blvd. on May 1 of this year.
Rev. Jenny Crosswhite Graduates from Santa Paula "Police Clergy Academy"
Crosswhite said the academy “Was a really great experience...I didn’t really know an awful lot about police policy and procedures,how officers make decisions on use of force and what level of force, how K-9s are paired with handlers,” as well as death notifications and homicide investigations, among other subjects.
“I found it helpful and fascinating,” to learn of issues and actions from the side of law enforcement.
Over the course of the nine-week academy, Rev. Crosswhite was among four church leaders who attended two- and three-hour-sessions taught by SPPD personnel including patrol procedures, death notifications and media relations, less lethal training, detectives, homicide/crime scene investigations, use of force, and the Special Response Team.
DSF Student Preaches at CST Chapel
Nora Jacob preached at CST chapel, Dec 3, on "Kiting Emmanuel." The service featured an interpretive dance by Rev. Jenny Crosswhite (Pastor of First Christian Church of Santa Paula and DSF staff) and Rev. Michelle Harris-Gloyer (Transitional Associate Pastor at First Christian Church of Orange, and a DSF alumna from PSR). Current DSF students Caroline Hamilton-Arnold and Al Lopez also participated in the service.
CST is now placing all chapel services on the web, and Nora Jacob's service can be viewed at this link: http://videocenter.cst.edu/videos/video/1231/
Disciples Women present drama at World Council of Churches
By Rev. Sheila Spencer, director for Christian Education/Faith Formation and assistant to the president, Disciples Home Missions
Rev. Young Lan Kim has always believed that her plays were created not only for entertainment, but as opportunities for education and enlightenment. One of her productions, "Can You Hear Me Now?" premiered at the 2010 Quadrennial Assembly in Greensboro, N.C. The play addressed the issue of human trafficking through the transparent stories of several women who have been victimized. The raw, powerful performance and audience reaction played a part in International Disciples Women's Ministries' leadership's decision to continue to keep human trafficking as their social action focus through 2014. Many shared that the play opened up their eyes to human trafficking.
Years later, the play continues to open up the eyes of audiences from all over the world to this injustice. Read More
DSF Student named Executive Director of PCU
Timothy Murphy, one of our DSF students, has just been named as the executive director of Progressive Christians Uniting. PCU is a southern California network of individuals and congregations applying Christian social justice to realities of contemporary society. Timothy completes his Ph.D. degree at Claremont Lincoln University in December, and will begin at PCU in January. Congratulations, Timothy!
Rev. Murphy holds ordination in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) with ministerial standing in the United Church of Christ. He earned his M-Div. at Eden Seminary in St. Louis and worked as a student pastor at an inner city church there. While in seminary he also worked as a student chaplain in an AIDS residential facility in St. Louis and later at a homeless shelter in Texas. Prior to beginning his Ph.D. program in Claremont, Rev. Murphy served for three years as Minister for Youth and Social Justice at the Pilgrim United Church of Christ in Carlsbad, where he represented that well-known activist congregation in the leadership of important San Diego County organizations that support low-wage workers and promote immigrant rights. While studying in Claremont, Rev. Murphy has worked part time with the Center for Process and Faith and with the Disciples Seminary Foundation, gaining important administrative and fundraising skills in both positions.
"My passion is guiding faith communities to more fully live out the mission of being witnesses to Christ's peace with justice," said Rev. Murphy in accepting the appointment to lead PCU. "I see the future of Christianity as modeling a spiritual social movement, and I see PCU's role as supporting congregations that seek to be part of that modeling."
DSF's September Newsletter Features Guest Authors
Following presentations given at July's General Assembly, Walter Brueggemann reflects on the indispensibility of the Bible and Marjorie Suchocki meditates on community and divine omnipresence in DSF's September newsletter.
Click the links above to access the full text of their articles.
Justin Floyd Joins Regional Ministry Team
The Pacific Southwest Region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is excited to announce the addition of new staff to the Regional Ministry Team! DSF Student Justin Floyd will be overseeing Regional Young Adult Ministries beginning July 1.
Justin Floyd has been hired to create and support Young Adult ministries in the Pacific Southwest Region. Graduating from Claremont School of Theology in December, Justin will also continue to serve First Christian Church, North Hollywood as staff for youth. This new position is supported by a Arlington Legacy Vision Fund grant.
Please join us in welcoming and supporting Justin in his new ministry!
Starting July 1, Justin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(excerpted from PSWR E-Shout)