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Latest News

Dean’s Update to the 2013 General Assembly Alumni Lunch

Posted on August 15, 2013

Dean’s Update to the 2013 General Assembly Alumni Lunch

Here are some highlights of the last year:

• We look forward to the beginning of our new Divinity School Dean, Emilie Townes. I am encouraged that she is understanding and supportive of the work of the Disciples House.

• These are challenging times for theological education. Student numbers down nationally, though at DDH they have started to climb again. Finances are tight, and seminaries are struggling and closing, but not us.

• Schools are changing—even VDS is changing, slowly. Almost the whole faculty has changed since I came in 1995, with only Profs. Knight, Levine, and Segovia still teaching. The faculty is much more diverse now.

• It’s been a good year for Disciples House. We celebrated graduations last May, and ordinations are coming. We have an excellent board and staff; finances are solid, and we are not in crisis. Six new students are arriving for the new semester.

• We hope you are getting the newsletter, finding the website (, friending us on Facebook.

• The major facility improvement—new windows—is DONE, though we are still paying it off. It’s made an incredible difference in the quality of life for students in the House. Just the reduction in noise alone is amazing.

• Next up is replacing the heating and cooling systems, and we are hoping to go geothermal. We’ve received some strong first contributions to that project.

• The “100 x $1,000 Campaign” is coming to a close. We received over $40k and have used it to start a new Alumni Scholarship in the endowment; used some funds for support of the windows project; and are holding the remainder, according to plan, for new initiatives. You can still give!

• The House received a renewal grant last fall from Lilly Endowment for the Congregational Immersion Project, which keeps our transition program going. Two graduates are beginning this summer, and the total is now 9 pastoral residents in the program. Some of you have been mentor-pastors, and we would love to talk to you if you are interested in exploring this. The CIP will also need more funding to sustain it past the grant’s 5 more years.

• The CIP also keeps us in the loop on the most innovative ways to prepare people to thrive in pastoral ministry for the long run.

• We are beginning a LEGACY SOCIETY for those who want to put the Disciples House in their estate plans. If you are curious or would like to help with this, let us know.

There are three things I need from you to help Disciples House keep going strong:
• I value your student referrals! Give me names.
• I ask for your support and your donor referrals: the dollars of the Annual Fund are our foundation. Larger special gifts have made possible special projects such as windows.
• I also ask for your feedback—working with scarcity, we need as much wisdom and creativity as possible, and creativity is free. How can we do better at preparing people for ministry today? Give me your thoughts.

Thanks for being with us at this General Assembly Vanderbilt Disciples House Alumni Lunch!

Mark Miller-McLemore, Dean