Teresa Hord Owens, 2023 Alum of the Year

Upon recommendation from the Divinity School’s Alumni Council, the Board of  Trustees of the Baptist Theological Union has named Teresa Hord Owens, MDiv 2003, the Divinity School Alumna of the Year for 2023.  

Rev. Teresa “Terri” Hord Owens is the General Minister and President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada, a position she was elected to 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.  

A descendant of one of the oldest African American free settlements in Indiana and a Disciple since young adulthood, Rev. Owens was Dean of Students at the University of Chicago Divinity School (and pastor of First Christian Church of Downers Grove) prior to her election.

After receiving her ordination, Rev. Owens served for twelve years at the University of Chicago Divinity School, shepherding a varied student body in both background and theology, and leading campus-wide diversity and inclusion initiatives. As Dean of Students, she was responsible for serving master’s and doctoral students in a wide and varied capacity. She also represented the Divinity School in several programs and boards in theological education, including the Hispanic Theological Initiative, the Hispanic Summer Program, and the Fund for Theological Exploration. She served on the Board of Trustees of Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis and was a founding member of the Advisory Board for the Center for the Study of Black Faith and Life at Chicago Theological Seminary.  

Rev. Owens is widely sought after as a preacher, speaker and workshop facilitator. Her ministry and intellectual interests include a theology of reconciliation, cultural intelligence, developing inclusive and multicultural congregations, and the mentoring of young adults.  Before studying at The University of Chicago she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Government and Afro-American Studies at Harvard University. 

“Rev. Owens continues to make important, impactful contributions to the American church, the higher education landscape, and the Divinity School,” said James Theodore Robinson, Dean of the Divinity School, of the award. “Her service to community, writ large, and to those who seek to understand our religiously pluralistic world, greatly embodies the values of The Divinity School.” 

Rev. Owens will deliver her Alumnus of the Year address, entitled “A New Church for a New World” on Thursday, May 4, 2023, at 4:30pm, in Swift Lecture Hall. A reception will follow.