Alumni News 2011-2012

Posted June 21, 2012

Jeff B. Pool (PHD'94) has recently received an appointment to The Eli Lilly Chair of Religion and Culture at Berea College in Kentucky. He also has recently begun a term of service as the chair of the Religion Department. From 2003 to 2012, he served at Berea College in a combined teaching and administrative position as Professor of Religion and Director of the office of religious life. For a portion of his most recent sabbatical leave, during the spring of 2011, he taught a graduate seminar as Guest Professor and Research Scholar at Univerzita Karlova (Charles University), in Prague, The Czech Republic. His most recent publications include the two following studies: “Toward a Conspiracy of Doves: Seeking Common Cause with the New Atheism,” Journal for the Liberal Arts and Sciences 15 (Spring 2011): 141–65; and “Toward Spirituality of Post-Christian Disciples of Jesus,” Communio Viatorum 53 (2011): 3–48. His recent books include two volumes of a three-volume study on divine suffering in Christian thought: God’s Wounds: Hermeneutic of the Christian Symbol of Divine Suffering, vol. 1Divine Vulnerability and Creation, and God’s Wounds: Hermeneutic of the Christian Symbol of Divine Suffering, vol. 2, Evil and Divine Suffering, Princeton Theological Monographs Series, series ed. K. C. Hanson, Charles M. Collier, and D. Christopher Spinks (Eugene, Oregon: Pickwick Publications, An Imprint of Wipf & Stock Publishers) .

Daniel Patrick Thompson (AM'87, PHD'98) has been named the new chair of the department of religious studies at the University of Dayton. Thompson is former chair and associate professor of theology at St. Mary's University in San Antonio.

Anthony Sadek Banout (PHD'12) is Director of Development for the Gamaliel Foundation.

Mun'im Sirry (PHD'12) is a Research Associate Fellow at the University of Notre Dame.

Helena Sofia Lenneke Post (AMRS'12) is a researcher at VU Medical Center in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Rachel Diane Graaf Leslie (AMRS'12) will work as a Foreign Service Officer for the U.S. State Department.

Ryan Stelzer (AM'12) will be a Management Analyst in the Office of the Chairman for the Export-Import Bank of the United States.


Posted May 18, 2012

Kenneth Atkinson (MDV'94) is the author of Queen Salome: Jerusalem's Warrior Monarch of the First Century B.C.E. (McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, 2012).  This is the first biography of Queen Salome Alexandra (ca. 141 b.c.e.–67 b.c.e.), the sole legitimate female monarch of ancient Palestine. It recounts the events of her tumultuous life as well as women in the Dead Sea Scrolls and related texts.  Mr. Atkinson is currently Associate Professor of History at the University of Northern Iowa.

On June 1, April Lewton (MDV'07) will become the Vice President of Development and Marketing for the National Benevolent Association (NBA), a general ministry of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Founded in the 1880s, the NBA "creates communities of compassion and care" through the provision of health and social services.  Prior to joining the NBA this June, Lewton worked with Chicago Theological Seminary (CTS), a United Church of Christ related institution of theological and ministerial learning, to build a comprehensive annual giving program.

Garry Sparks (MDV'04, PHD'11 has accepted a tenure-track appointment as Assistant Professor of Humanities in Global Christian Studies at the University of Louisville in Louisville, Kentucky. His research and teaching interests focus on an ethnographic and ethnohistorical understanding of theological production in the Americas, specifically among indigenous peoples. His areas include modern Christian theologies, history of religions, Native American religious movements, Hispano-Catholic missions, and the Highland Maya. This past year he has been the Visiting Assistant Professor of Humanities and Theology at Christ College, the honors college, of Valparaiso University.

Spencer Dew (AM'01, PHD'09) will join Centenary College of Louisiana as Assistant Professor of Religious Studies in the fall, a tenure-track position, and he will hold the Mattie Allen Broyles Inaugural Year Research Chair. Currently teaching at the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point, he is completing a manuscript on religious understandings of writing in the work of Jack Kerouac, Norman Mailer, and James Baldwin, and he is at work on a a study of the Moorish Science Temple of America, funded in part by a research fellowship from the Black Metropolis Research Consortium. He is the author of a collection of short stories, Songs of Insurgency (Vagabond Press, 2008), Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres (Another New Calligraphy, 2010), and the critical study, Learning for Revolution: The Work of Kathy Acker (San Diego State University Press, 2011). His first novel, Maintain, is forthcoming from Ampersand Books in fall 2012. A regular reviewer for Rain Taxi Review of Books, and a Staff Book Reviewer for decomP magazine, his fiction and essays have appeared in scores of publications, including art reviews in Newcity Chicago and Chicago Artists' News, and essays in Religion Dispatches and Sightings.

Posted April 27, 2012

Congratulations to Bob Benne (AM'63, PHD'70) who is retiring as director of the Center for Religion & Society at Roanoke College. The Center will be named in his honor.  Benne, a prominent figure in Lutheran ethics and social thought, has authored over 200 articles and ten books, most dealing with Christianity and society. At Roanoke, Benne was the Jordan-Trexler Professor of Religion and chairman of the department of religion and philosophy for 18 years.  

Rebecca Raphael  (PHD'97) has been named NEH Distinguished Teaching Professor at Texas State for 2012-2015, with a project focused on religious studies in the humanities, in the context of public universities.  

Paul Kollman (PHD'01), associate professor of theology at Notre Dame University, has been named the executive director of Notre Dame’s Center for Social Concern, effective July 1.  

Alex Kindred (MDV'09) has become Pastor of First Christian Church in Muscatine, Iowa.

Jackie Posek (MDV'07) has become Assistant Director of Campus Ministry at DePaul University.


Posted April 12, 2012

With sadness, we report that Ray Greenfield(MDV'03) passed away on April 1. He was 57.  Our sympathies are with his wife Helen, his three children, and four grandchildren.  Ray was the pastor at the Illinois Street Christian Church in Lewistown, and at the Ipava Christian Church. He was a chaplain at Graham Hospital in Canton. He was also the former pastor at the First Christian Church in Rushville.  He pursued his college education as a second career student, earning his bachelor's degree in social work from MacMurray College in Jacksonville, IL in 2000. He entered the Divinity School as a Disciples House Scholar in 2000 and commuted every week from Jacksonville. When he graduated in 2003, he considered the M.Div. degree to be half Helen's and made sure that she also had a graduation cap.


We are also saddened by the death of Jack V. Reeve (DB'45), on February 25 in Indianapolis. Jack pastored churches first in Casper, WY (1945-51), then in Greeley, CO (1951-58), before being invited to join the national staff of the Disciples of Christ.  He is a former regional minister of the Christian Church in Illinois and Wisconsin and also a former faculty member of Lexington Theological Seminary.  Jack leaves a legacy of service, stewardship, and philanthropy.  


Lisa Sowle Cahill (AM'73, PHD'76) will receive an honorary degree from the College of the Holy Cross during the College's Commencement ceremonies on Friday, May 25.  Cahill is the J. Donald Monan Professor of Theology at Boston College where she has taught since 1976. She is a past president of the Catholic Theological Society of America (1992-93), and the Society of Christian Ethics (1997-98), and is also a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She received her Ph.D. in theological ethics from the University of Chicago Divinity School, where she studied under James Gustafson. Her A.B. degree is from the University of Santa Clara.  She has been a visiting professor at Georgetown and Yale universities. Her recent books include "Bioethics and the Common Good" (Marquette University Press, 2004) and "Theological Bioethics: Participation, Justice, and Change" (Thomson Gale, 2007).

Congratulations to recent graduate Jonathan Wallace (MDV'11), who will be ordained on June 10 at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church in Memphis, Tennessee.


Posted March 6, 2012

Jamie Schillinger (AM'04, PHD'04) has been granted tenure at St. Olaf College, where he is Assistant Professor of Religion.  His academic interests include theology and ethics in both the Christian and Islamic traditions, the philosophy of religion, and the relationship between religion and politics. His current research concerns understanding and improving Christian-Muslim relations and dialogue.


Posted February 27, 2012

Susan Henking (AM'79, PHD'88) has been named President-elect of Shimer College in Chicago, effective July 1, 2012.  


Posted February 20, 2012

Dennis Castillo (AM'82, PHD'90) has just published a new book: The Santa Marija Convoy: Faith and Endurance in War-Time Malta, 1940-42 (Lexington Books).  He is currently Academic Dean and Professor of Church History at Christ the King Seminary in East Aurora, NY.

On January 4 Tristan Orozco (MDV'10) became Associate Minister of Wakonda Christian Church in Des Moines, Iowa.

Laura Hollinger (MDV'04) has become the Campus Engagement Manager with Interfaith Youth Core, a Chicago-based nonprofit with the mission of building interfaith cooperation. She moved to this position after seven years as Associate Dean of Rockefeller Chapel and as coordinator of Bond Chapel worship for the Divinity School.

Michael Karunas (MDV'98) has been named the new senior minister of Central Christian Church in Decatur, Illinois. He concluded service as the senior minister of First Christian Church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on January 31, 2012.

Larry Bouchard (AM'75, PHD'84) has published Theater and Integrity: Emptying Selves in Drama, Ethics, and Religion (Northwestern University Press).  He is currently Associate Professor at the University of Virginia.


Posted January 30, 2012

We were saddened to hear of the death of Reverend Myron L. Ebersole (AM'61, DB'63). Rev. Ebersole was a hospital Chaplain and Supervisor of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) at Indiana University Medical Center in Indianapolis, Lancaster General Hospital, Lancaster, Pennsylvania 1967-78, and the Penn State University Medical Center, Hershey Pennsylvania, 1978-96. He also served as a Supervisor at The Christian Medical College and Hospital in Vellore, India, in 1996. He was a member of The American Board of the Vellore Hospital 1998-2006. He was active in professional organizations, serving as President of the College of Chaplains in 1979. He received the Distinguished Service Award from the College of Chaplains in 1986. He was a member of the Board of Representatives and served on the Certification Committee of the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education. He also was founder of the Pennsylvania Society of Chaplains, which he served as President for a term.

Robert  Denham (AM'64, PHD'72 in Humanities) has just published his 32nd book: The Northrop Frye Handbook (Jefferson, NC, and London: McFarland and Co., 2012).  On March 28, 2012 he will deliver the Reynolds Lectures at Emory & Henry College, in Emory, VA.  Denham is Fishwick Professor of English, Emeritus, Roanoke College.

Kinndlee Shea Lund (MDV'08) will be ordained on February 4 at Trinity Lutheran Church in Pelican Rapids, MN.  She has been called to serve as Associate Pastor of St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Breham, Texas and begins there later in February.

Emilie M. Townes (AM'79, DMN'82) has been named to The Fund for Theological Education (FTE) Board of Trustees.  Ms. Townes is the Andrew W. Mellon Professor of African American Religion and Theology at Yale Divinity School and an ordained American Baptist clergywoman.

Rabbi Elliot Cosgrove (PHD'08) has been named Rabbinical Advisor on Interfaith Affairs for the Anti-Defamation League.  Rabbi Cosgrove is Senior Rabbi at Park Avenue Synagogue in New York City.


Posted January 10, 2012

Anthony Cerulli (PHD'07) has won an EURIAS Fellowship, with affiliation at the Insitut d'études avancées-Paris, for 2012-2013.  He has also been awarded an NEH Fellowship for 2012-2013.  He is currently teaching at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, and is Managing Editor, India Review.

Jeff Lehn (MDV'10) is now the new pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Cynthia Lindner participated in his ordination service there on November 27.

Eric Ziolkowski (AM'81, PHD'87) has just published a new book, The Literary Kierkegaard (Northwestern University Press). He is also one of the main editors of The Encyclopedia of the Bible and Its Reception, a prospective 30-volume work published by De Gruyter in Berlin, whose third volume appeared this past fall, and whose fourth volume is scheduled to appear during the winter 2012.

With sadness, we report that Joseph Colombo (AM'78, PHD'86) passed away on January 2. A passionate and inspiring professor at the University of San Diego, Joe joined their Department of Theology and Religious Studies in 1984, and served as Department Chair from 1998-2004.  He was recognized with a Steber Professorship in 2006-2007, as well as being named a University Professor in 1997-1998.  His extensive service to the College and University included multiple terms on the University Senate, as well as serving on, and chairing, the CAS ARRT committee.


Posted December 22, 201

G. William Barnard (PhD '94) has just published Living Consciousness: The Metaphysical Vision of Henri Bergson, with SUNY Press.

Jon Ebel (AM'99, PHD'04) was awarded tenure at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. He was also awarded the Helen Corley Petit prize for the best tenure dossier in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Dennis Duling (AM'67, PHD'70) just published A Marginal Scribe. Studies in the Gospel of Matthew in Social-Scientific Perspective, with Cascade Books (Wipf and Stock).


Posted December 7, 2011

W. Clark Gilpin (AM'72, PHD'74) and Catherine Brekus have published American Christianities: A History of Dominance and Diversity, with University of North Carolina Press.  Clark Gilpin is the Margaret E. Burton Professor Emeritus of the history of Christianity and Catherine Brekus is associate professor of the history of Christianity.

Dan McKanan (PhD'98) has just published Prophetic Encounters: Religion and the American Radical Tradition, with Beacon Press.

Anne Ford (AM'99) has published Peaceful Places: Chicago. This guide includes 119 tranquil sites in the Chicago area where one can escape the stress of the big city.

Posted November 22, 2011

T.L. Brink (PHD'78) is youtube's "headlessprofessor" where he has uploaded nearly 300 videos covering topics in psychology, economics, logic, statistics, and Mexican politics as well as religious studies. He has videos on theodicy, the ontological argument, teleological argument, cosmological argument, Calvin, and religious roles. These videos are particularly useful in his online lower division courses.

Amy Ziettlow (MDV'99) and Elizabeth Marquardt (MDV'99) have received a three-year grant from the Lilly Endowment to investigate aging, death, and dying in an era of high family fragmentation. They plan to write a trade book. Each are currently blogging at Huffington Post and


Posted November 1, 2011

Michael Brown (MDV'94, PHD'98)  recently left his position at Emory (associate professor of New Testament and Christian Origins) for the position of associate dean of the College and director of the Malcolm X Institute of Black Studies at Wabash College. He began his new position on September 1, 2011.

Anthony R. Picarello, Jr. (AM'92), general counsel for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), has been named associate general secretary for policy and advocacy of the USCCB. Picarello has served as general counsel for the USCCB since 2007 and will retain that title.


Posted October 21, 2011

We were saddened to hear of the death of the Reverend J. Dean Brackley, S.J. (PHD'80).  For most of the 1980s Brackley worked as an educator, teaching at Fordham University, and as a community organizer in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. He also led a church-sponsored leadership program in the South Bronx. After graduates of the School of the Americas killed six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper, and her daughter in 1989 at the University of Central America in San Salvador, Brackley volunteered to take the place of one of the martyred Jesuits.  He joined the staff of the Universidad Centroamericana in 1990 and administered the university’s School for Religious Education and assisted in schools for pastoral formation sponsored by the UCA. He was the author of The Call to Discernment in Troubled Times: New Perspectives on the Transformative Wisdom of Ignatius of Loyola (Crossroad, 2004) and of numerous articles in AmericaRevista Latinoamericana de Teología, and Grail.  Beyond his academic responsibilities, Brackley did pastoral work in a poor urban community in San Salvador. He described life in El Salvador as, “a mix of economic, political, generational, moral and religious crosses and resurrections.” Lecturing extensively in the USA and Europe, Brackley did much to keep the memory of the recent martyrs of El Salvador alive and to continue their struggle for social justice.  See the New York Times article here.

Rebecca Anderson (MDV'10) has been called as Associate Minister of Glencoe Union Church, just north of Chicago. She has been serving at Holy Covenant United Methodist Church in Chicago.

On August 1, Brittany Barber (MDV'99) began serving as Interim Minister of University Place Christian Church in Champaign, Illinois.

Spencer Dew (AM'01, PHD'09) is serving as a Lecturer in the Department of Philosophy and Religion at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. This summer he received a grant from the Black Metropolis Research Consortium for archival research on the Moorish Science Temple.

Beau Underwood (MDV'10) has joined the pastoral team of National City Christian Church in Washington, DC, part-time. As assistant pastor, he will lead new member classes, plan special worship services, and serve as National City's clergy representatative to the Washington Interfaith Network (WIN). He continues full-time as the Partnership and Outreach Coordinator for Faith in Public Life.

Ben Varnum (MDV'10) has been named Assistant Rector of St. Thomas the Apostle Episcopal Church in Overland Park, Kansas, beginning in mid-October. He will be ordained by the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago on November 1, 6:00 pm, at St. Chrysostom Episcopal Church in Chicago.


Posted September 28, 2011

Dan Overmyer (AM'66, PHD'71) has several recent publications: Local Religion in North China in the Twentieth Century:The Structure and Organization of Community Rituals and Beliefs, By Daniel L. Overmyer, Leiden, Brill, 2009; (Co-edited with Larry DeVries and Don Baker) Asian Religions in British Columbia, UBC Press, 2010; (Festschrift), The People and the Dao: New Studies in Chinese Religions in Honour of Daniel L. Overmyer, Monumenta Serica Monograph Series LX, Sankt Augustin, Institut Monumenta Serica, 2009.  He has retired from teaching and research, and is now a happy grandfather of five and President of Nature Vancouver (The Vancouver Natural History Society) .


Posted September 13, 2011

Anne E. Patrick (AM'76, PHD'82) retired from Carleton College as William H. Laird Professor of Religion and the Liberal Arts, emerita, in 2009 and moved back to Silver Spring, Maryland. She has recently published Women, Conscience, and the Creative Process (Paulist, 2011), and she is now at work on another volume in Catholic feminist ethics.

Franklin Sherman (PHD'61) has published Bridges: Documents of the Christian-Jewish Dialogue. Volume 1: The Road to Reconciliation, 1945-1985 (Paulist Press, 2011). Volume 2 (forthcoming) will bring the documentation down to the present. After many years on the faculty of the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, Frank became Founding Director of the Institute for Jewish-Christian Understanding at Muhlenberg College, his alma mater. In 2010, he received the third annual Shevet Achim Award from the Council of Centers on Christian-Jewish Relations for outstanding contributions in the field.

John Weaver (AM'98) was recently appointed Dean of Library Services and Educational Technology at Abilene Christian University. He previously served as Director of The Burke Theological Library at Columbia University and Union Theological Seminary in New York City. Also, he was elected as President of the American Theological Library Association (ATLA) this year.

Anne K. Knafl (AM'02, PHD'11) is Visiting Instructor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and also Adjunct Faculty at Spertus College in Chicago.

Heather Miller Rubens (PHD'11) was named the Roman Catholic Scholar at the Institute for Christian and Jewish Studies in Baltimore, MD.

Daniel Shin (PHD'11) will be a Post Doctoral Fellow at Emory University.

Emy Cardoza (MDV'10) has accepted the position of Coordinator for DePaul University's Office of Diversity Education.

Yue Zhang (AM'11) will be an Associate at KMPG in Dallas, TX.

Devin P. O'Rourke (AM'11) is the Assistant Director of Graduate Student Affairs at the University of Chicago.


Posted August 24, 2011

Joel Harter  (PHD'08) just published his first book -- Coleridge's Philosophy of Faith: Symbol, Allegory, and Hermeneutics. He is currently the Lilly Pastoral Resident at Hyde Park Union Church and an adjunct instructor of philosophy at Catholic Theological Union.


Posted August 4, 2011

David Peter Lawrence (AM'82, PHD'92), Associate Professor of Religion and Philosophy at North Dakota University, has been selected for a Fulbright research grant to India during the 2011-2012 academic year for a project contributing to intercultural and comparative philosophy and South Asian studies.  Lawrence will study in India under the project "Translations and Studies of Monistic Saiva Philosophy." He will spend the year in the city of Lucknow, in the state of Uttar Pradesh, and will also conduct research in other cities such as Varanasi and Kolkata.


Posted July 28, 2011

On July 1, Amy Limpitlaw (AM'90, PhD'00) began her new position as the new Head Librarian for the School of Theology. Amy was recently the Research & Electronic Services Librarian for the Yale University Divinity Library, and she served before that as Associate Director of Vanderbilt University’s Divinity Library, where she had earlier served as Public Services Librarian.


Posted July 21, 2011

Steven McFarland (AM'03) has served as Vice President for University Communications at Aurora University in Aurora, Illinois, since late 2010. Earlier, he led communications efforts at Harvard Divinity School and the national domestic hunger-relief organization Feeding America.


Jennifer Kottler (MDiv'03) became the Associate Pastor of Park Avenue Christian Church in New York City on July 1. She previously served as Director of Policy and Advocacy at Sojourners.