Submitted by
Kelly Thompson and Jon Berquist,
Chairs of Councils

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Council of Colleges and Universities

Disciples related colleges and universities represent a broad range of opportunities for students to experience the richness of a liberal arts education steeped in the Disciples tradition of faith, reason, and wholeness. There are fifteen colleges and universities that are in covenant with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) across the United States. While they are diverse in their settings and academic offerings, all have a commitment to academic excellence, a passion for social justice, and provide an inclusive community that respects all people and cultures.

The covenantally affiliated schools are:

  • Barton College
  • Bethany College
  • Chapman University
  • Columbia College
  • Culver-Stockton College
  • Drury University
  • Eureka College
  • Hiram College
  • Jarvis Christian College
  • University of Lynchburg
  • Midway University
  • Texas Christian University
  • Tougaloo College
  • Transylvania University
  • William Woods University

Disciples schools focus on character, service, and leadership; providing ample opportunities for student to get involved in the community, explore faith and values, and connect to new ideas and perspectives. All institutions offer Disciples scholarships and financial aid to help make higher education affordable. Each offers a wide range of undergraduate and graduate degree opportunities with a unique scope of majors and programs of study.

Established in connection with the church, through Higher Education and Leadership Ministries, the primary purpose of the Council of Colleges and Universities is to provide an avenue for discussion of common concerns and issues, generally institutional in character, and for the sharing of its members’ expertise.  The Council also exists as a forum at which the institutions may discuss strategies for denominational understanding and for the development of denominational fiscal support.  The Council also provides advice and recommendations to HELM and is a means by which institutions can explore appropriate ways of working with HELM and the wider church.  In addition to providing a forum, the Council is a means for fellowship of the chief executive officers of the institutions holding membership in the Council.

Highlights of work of the council include:

Over the past two years, nearly all of the Disciples colleges and universities have experienced increases in undergraduate admissions applications. Several schools have also seen significant increases in enrollment. The council continues to work with HELM to recruit Disciples students to attend Disciples colleges and universities

HELM has held info sessions at churches, regional assemblies, and racial ethnic constituency gatherings, to share information with high school students and with their parents. These info sessions have generated excitement and interest in Disciples colleges and universities and have contributed to increased number of students seeking enrollment at Disciples schools.

HELM staff and representatives from other Disciples general ministry have promoted ministry programs for young adults by working with Disciples chaplains and campus ministers. This continues to encourage Disciples college students participating in the NBA XPLOR program, DOM Global Mission Intern Program, DHM Disciples Peach Fellows, and many others

During 2018, HELM worked closely with Tougaloo College to achieve the school’s goal of moving toward full covenantal affiliation with the church. The proposal was well received and approved by all relevant councils and boards of the church. It became official during the 2019 General Board meeting.

Council on Theological Education

All of us are called to serve God with our lives. Some, however, feel called to serve in specific vocational ministries. For those who are discerning this calling, considering the possibility of theological education and where that might take place is crucial. Throughout the history the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and throughout the entirety of the Stone-Campbell movement, Disciples have been committed to the education and training of those serving in ministry. And while the context in which ministry takes place today is very different than in previous generations, the commitment to excellence in education continues.

Today there are seven seminaries and divinity houses that are in covenant with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) across the United States. Each of them offers various degrees, certificates, and programs, as well as varying approaches in journeying with students. Some offer a traditional, residence-based experience, others have on-line classes with short on-campus intensives throughout the year, and still others offer a blending of on-site and distance learning. However, while they may differ in the format of classes as well as specific degrees and programs offered, all have a commitment to journeying with students in discerning their calling, equipping them with the knowledge and experience to serve God in the wider church and world.

Established in connection with the church, through Higher Education and Leadership Ministries, the Council on Theological Education is and organized means of communication and cooperation both among its member institutions and between its membership and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). The Council includes up to two voting representatives selected by each theological education institution affiliated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) [Current Members: Brite Divinity School; Christian Theological Seminary; Lexington Theological Seminary; Phillips Theological Seminary; Disciples Divinity House of the University of Chicago; Disciples Divinity House at Vanderbilt University Divinity School, and Disciples Seminary Foundation

The last two annual meetings of the Council of Theological education took place in Indianapolis and were hosted by Higher Education and Leadership Ministries at Disciples Center. Highlights of the meetings include:

  • Presentation from and conversation with General Minister and President Teresa “Terri” Hord Owens. The conversation focused on the goals and priority of the Office of the General Minister and President, as well at the church’s commitment to strong theological education institutions.
  • Presentations from and engagement with leaders of the Association of Theological Schools where data was presented on enrollment trends at schools across North America, with a focus on Disciples schools and the numbers of Disciples students enrolled in ATS schools. The members of CTE committed to engaging in continued intentional conversations around increasing enrollment of Disciples students at Disciples theological education institutions.
  • The Council also met with leadership from the Pension Fund and the National Benevolent Association as part of their ongoing effort to strengthen connections with Disciples of Christ general ministry partners.






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Submitted by
Kelly Thompson, President
Culver Stockton College
Chair, Council of Colleges and Universities

 Members of the Council: The presidents of the fourteen colleges and universities in Covenant with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) are members of the Council that meets annually in conjunction with the Council of Independent Colleges. The president of Higher Education and Leadership Ministries also serves as an ex-officio member of the Council.

Mission Statement: The Colleges and Universities of the Christian Church advocate for the 14 colleges and universities in covenant with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) to all our constituents by working together on common goals that provide students with an exceptional liberal arts education, that integrate both reason and faith, and that lead to a humane and fulfilling personal and public life.

In 2015 Chris Dorsey, President of Higher Education and Leadership ministries, worked with Guy Waldrup, then director of the Council, and Ken Garren, chair of the Council to develop a transition plan that would restore the close working relationship between HELM and the Council of Colleges and Universities. The plan was accepted by the Council and Guy Waldrop retired from his role as director in July of 2015. Since that time, HELM has resumed much of the responsibility previously carried out by the director.

The collective work of the Council and HELM has been focused on four key areas:

  • Interpretation & Communication
    • HELM has integrated the website for Disciples Colleges and Universities into the HELM website and greatly enhanced its look and functionality.
    • The quarterly newsletter for the Disciples colleges and universities, has been redesigned
    • HELM has worked with the Council to produce a full-color brochure that highlights all 14 of the Disciples Colleges and Universities
  • Recruiting and Admissions
    • The Council continues to seek ways to work more closely with HELM and with other expression of the church to present Disciples students with opportunities for a high quality Christian liberal arts education.
    • In the near future HELM will work more closely with regions and camps to better represent Disciples schools to young people considering college.
  • Funding
    • The Council and HELM continue to work closely together to promote the Disciples Mission Fund and the Thanksgiving offering that benefit higher education.
    • The Council and HELM are committed to working together to raise funds that will go toward scholarship to Disciples students who attend Disciples colleges and universities.
  • Chaplains & Church Relations
    • In the summer of 2017, HELM will convene a group of Disciples chaplains and ecumenical campus ministry staff for a consultation on ministry in higher education.

In April of 2017 HELM will host a Higher Education Summit for leaders of the various schools. The primary goals of the gathering would be:

  • Better understand what it means to be a Disciples related school
  • Discuss ways Disciples schools can better engage with their proximate regions in ways that are mutually beneficial
  • Identify opportunities for strategically working with the national church and the various general ministries in ways that may be mutually beneficial

Attending the summit will be presidents, chief academic officers, development officers, chaplains, and church relations staff from the colleges and universities.

There is considerable excitement around the renewed commitment to Disciples higher education!


The General Assembly receives the report from the

Council of Colleges and Universities.