Celeste Groff


Ms. Groff answered these questions when she was a second year MDiv student.  She is now the Interim Director of Spiritual Care for the Gilead Ministy at Hyde Park Union Church.

Where were you born and raised?

Washington, D.C.

What education did you receive before coming to the University of Chicago Divinity School?

I was educated in D.C. Public Schools from 1987 to 2001. I earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies with a minor in history from Goshen College in Goshen, Indiana, in 2004. I earned a master of science in journalism degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism in Evanston, Illinois, in 2007.

Why did you choose to attend Chicago?

I appreciate University of Chicago’s high academic standards coupled with the opportunities for reflection on ministry practice. I also highly value the pluralistic setting and discourse with members of diverse religious and philosophical traditions.

What is your field of study?  Please note briefly any highlights of your academic work at Chicago.

I am a master of divinity student. I especially enjoyed Prof. Klauck’s seminar on The Letter to the Hebrews and Prof. Hector’s Introduction to Theology. Recently I have taken Prof. Elshtain’s Politics, Ethics, and Terror course and found it highly engaging.

Please describe your field work, as well as any church work, special teaching activities, publications, or presentations you have worked on so far that you feel are noteworthy.  Are you taking any classes?  Are there any professors or ministers in particular who have made a significant impact on your studies?

In the summer of 2011, I completed a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education at Mount Sinai Hospital in Lawndale, which was enriching and challenging. Since September 2011, I have been student pastor for community care at Urban Village Church, mainly serving at their Wicker Park worship site. My teaching pastor there, Trey Hall, has been an extraordinary mentor to me. I have continued to serve as council chair of my Mennonite congregation (equivalent to being head of the board of directors) and have been able to bring insights from my work at Urban Village into that context.

What activities do you participate in outside of the classroom?  (community service, work, hobbies, etc.)

I co-coordinate a community garden in East Garfield Park, growing produce and sharing it with neighbors, many of whom have limited access to fresh fruit and vegetables. I work as a freelance writer for two popular Christian publications and as an editor for Anabaptist seminary students. I also volunteer with the online media efforts of an ecumenical Christian peacemaking organization and of a church in D.C. I am the council chair of my Mennonite congregation in Chicago, with responsibilities such as facilitating council and congregational meetings and working with the pastor to guide the church’s mission and activities.

What do you plan to do after you have graduated from Chicago?

I plan to continue my work as a journalist covering faith and ethics, and I hope to add a second career as a chaplain in a health-care, hospice, or retirement-community setting. I see University of Chicago’s program as preparing me especially well for these endeavors.