Our denomination has a new leader. The General Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada elected recently the Rev. Teresa “Terri” Hord Owens to serve as the general minister and president. She is the first African-American to hold this post and the second woman to lead Disciples. Hord Owens is also the first African-American woman to lead a mainline denomination.
A widely sought after preacher, speaker and workshop facilitator, Hord Owens comes to the position in a time of renewed emphasis on the issues of race, particularly in the United States. Her election comes on the 50th anniversary of the Merger Agreement uniting the African-American and largely white branches of our American-born denomination. She has been serving as pastor a predominately white congregation in the Chicago area.
“We need to stop demonizing differences as deficiencies,” Hord Owens says in a denominational press release. “We should seek to understand, to work through our differences in priorities, opinions, methods, and goals. This will not be easy, but imagine what an example this will be for the world if we can bridge the gaps in politics, identity, geography and theology.”
Hord Owens’ resumé includes more than 20 years in corporate America leading diverse teams in data management before she entered seminary. For the last 15 years, she has been the dean of students at the University of Chicago Divinity School, shepherding a varied student body in both background and theology.
The election of Hord Owens follows the 12-year tenure of the Rev. Sharon E. Watkins, who was the first female to lead a mainline denomination in the United States upon her election in 2005. Hord Owens’ term is six years with an option for re-election in 2023 for an additional six-year term.
May God bless the ministry and leadership of the Rev. Teresa Hord Owens!