DCHS Calls Dr. Joel Brown as President

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

The Board of Trustees of the Disciples of Christ Historical Society (DCHS) is pleased to announce the call of Dr. Joel Brown to serve as its new President.

Search committee chair and DCHS board member, Rev. Rebecca Hale, noted that “This is an important time as the Society builds on the excellent leadership of Rev. Dr. Lowery in expanded digitization, infrastructure improvements, and living ever more fully into the Society’s vision of ‘celebrating our past and telling its hard truths, we seek a church empowered to make history now and thus to shape a future ever more faithful to God’s dream of unity and justice for all’.”

Through an extensive search process, the Society sought a visionary leader to work alongside the Board of Trustees to lead DCHS into a future that lives into the vision illustrated at the March 2022 Kirkpatrick Lectures with the theme: “Systemic Racism, Antiracism, and Reconciliation in Our Shared History and Tradition.” The ability to make significant gains in digitization, fundraising, and infrastructure improvements were also named as priorities in the search for a new President.

Dr. Brown recently earned his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago with a dissertation titled: “Preparing the Way: African American Women and Social Christianity in Turn-of-the-Century Chicago.” He holds a Master of Theology (Th.M.) from Texas Christian University, Brite Divinity School, where his thesis was titled: “White Evangelicals and the Civil Rights Movement” and a Master of Divinity (M.Div.) from Abilene Christian University, Graduate School of Theology. He also holds a Bachelor of Arts from Abilene Christian University.

Joel’s recent work includes serving as the Associate for Publications and Programming at the Disciples Divinity House at the University of Chicago, serving as the Managing Editor for the Martin Marty Center for the Public Understanding of Religion, and as the Managing Editor for the Religion & Culture Forum (2016-2018).

Committee and Board of Trustee members noted that Dr. Brown brings excellent scholarship, a breadth of knowledge related to historical archives, deep connections to the Stone-Campbell traditions, and a visionary yet humble spirit that will guide the Society. Joel’s well lived and clearly articulated commitments to equity and justice work also came to the fore during the search process.

Dr. Brown notes, "I am incredibly honored and deeply humbled by the call to serve in this leadership role and to continue the important work that DCHS has been doing of preserving and telling our history, both lifting up those narratives that tell of our movement’s faithfulness and achievements as well as reckoning with those parts of our story where we have fallen short and caused harm. As we find ourselves in a particular moment when “history” is being weaponized to narrow minds and hearts, I look forward to working with our churches, ministries, schools, and partners in other streams of the Stone-Campbell Movement to realize that critical and faithful study of our history can be a source for liberation, justice, and wholeness as we move forward into the future.”

Dr. Brown begins his service on September 1, 2022.

The Search Team was led by Rev. Rebecca Hale, DCHS Board Member; Archie Jenkins, DCHS Board of Trustees Chair and member of Guyton Christian Church in Georgia; Rev. Dr. Tim Lee, Professor, Brite Divinity School; Joyce Lambert, Elder at Philadelphia Fellowship Christian Church in Pennsylvania; Rev. Janae Pitts-Murdock, Senior Pastor, Light of the World Christian Church, DCHS Board Member; Rev. Dr. José Francisco Morales Torres, Professor, Chicago Theological Seminary; Rev. Sandhya Jha, Consultant, Without Fear Consulting; Dr. James Gorman, Professor, Johnson University, DCHS Board Member.