Rev. Teresa (Terri) Hord Owens (MDiv'03), Dean of Students in the Divinity School, has been elected the General Minister and President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).
Rev. Owens' election makes her the first woman of color to lead a mainline Protestant denomination.
"It truly is bittersweet," said Dean Owens, back at Swift Hall after the election. "From a ministry perspective, this is the call of my lifetime. My years as the Dean of Students at the Divinity School have provided me with many opportunities. One of those has been to work with young adults who are preparing for public religious leadership as well as the academy, and I have learned to listen to them and the things that matter to their generation. I'll continue that listening in the future, with all generations in the Disciples of Christ, and with the Divinity School alumni who will continue to cross my path."
Dean Owens, an Indiana native and a descendant of one of Indiana’s oldest African-American free settlements, began her professional career in the area of information technology, spending 23 years in the area of management consulting, data management and data warehousing. She previously held senior management positions with IBM, Ernst & Young, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, and SBC, consistently earning recognition for excellence and leadership. While pursuing her Master of Divinity degree she was a Disciples Divinity House Scholar and recipient of the John Gray Rhind Award, given to our top MDiv graduate.
In 2005 Owens was appointed Dean of Students. In this capacity she has been responsible for administration and development of academic policy, student advising on personal matters, students’ academic progress, admissions and financial aid, and recruiting, as well as PhD student professionalization and placement. A member of the Divinity School’s Diversity Committee, and the University’s Diversity Leadership Council, Owens has managed programming of diversity and inclusion events within the Divinity School and is regularly engaged in this work across campus. She has represented the Divinity School on a wide variety of both internal and external committees and intiatives.
Rev. Owens also serves as senior minister of First Christian Church of Downers Grove, Illinois. She is a widely sought-after preacher, speaker and workshop facilitator. Her ministry and intellectual interests include a theology of reconciliation, cultural intelligence, developing inclusive and multi-cultural congregations, and the mentoring of youth and young adults.
The Indianapolis-based Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) has 600,000 members in the United States and Canada and has been led for 12 years by Sharon Watkins, who at her election in 2005 was the first woman to be top executive of a mainline body. The Disciples grew out of two movements seeking Christian unity that began almost simultaneously in western Pennsylvania and Kentucky. The Campell and Stone movements united in 1832.
More information about the Disciples of Christ and Rev. Owens is available at their website.
Photo (right) by Mary Ann Carter