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Mark Miller-McLemore

Associate Professor of the Practice of Ministry

Mark is Associate Professor of the Practice of Ministry and teaches a course each semester in leadership and pastoral ministry. 

From 1980-95, he served as pastor of First Christian Church, Chicago Heights, Illinois, a declining industrial suburb on the south side of Chicago. In that time, this small, declining, mostly middle-class white congregation, discerned God's call and covenanted to take a more activist stance in its community, emphasizing hands-on ministry in partnership with the nearby poor. The church was instrumental in the beginnings of a number of community ministries, including the founding in 1990 of South Suburban PADS (Public Action to Develop Shelter), a ministry with homeless persons that involved over 70 congregations in providing church-based hospitality and shelter to 100+ persons each night in winter. The congregation involved members in its own work for justice as well, with over 70 percent active in a wide variety of hands-on ministries locally, in Appalachia, and overseas. Mark’s work as a pastor informs all his teaching on pastoral identity and leadership in ministry.

From 1995-2018, Mark also served as Dean of the Disciples Divinity House at Vanderbilt and helped that institution recruit, support, and house in community dozens of Disciples of Christ students at the Divinity School. As Dean, he also received over $1.5 million in grants for innovative programs for enhancing education for faithful, creative, bold, and effective congregational ministry.

Mark holds the B.A. from Wabash College, Crawfordsville, Indiana, and the A.M. from the Divinity School of the University of Chicago, where he also took additional doctoral level work in theology. Mark is ordained in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). He has led workshops and published articles on leadership; sermons; and a chapter on theology of ministry for Disciples of Christ. Mark began teaching at VDS in 1995 and will conclude his teaching in 2020. He currently is at work on writing projects about leadership in times of decline; doing prophetic, justice-oriented ministries in resistant communities; and the role of theology in leadership.

Mark and Bonnie have three grown sons who live in Colorado, as well as a new puppy, Lily. Mark likes to hike and grow vegetables. He plays banjo and ukulele badly, and he enjoys playing bass in the Soul Providers, the Divinity faculty band.