SCUPE educates leaders to revitalize congregations and community organizations to transform cities towards becoming just, inclusive and peaceful communities in accordance with God’s vision for the world.
Foundational to SCUPE’s mission are images of God’s vision for the world that abound in the Bible. It is often depicted as shalom, the Hebrew word meaning peace with justice as, for example, in “Seek the shalom of the city … for in its shalom you will find shalom” (Jeremiah 29:7). Jesus Christ came to inaugurate God’s reign. His mission statement: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free and to proclaim the year of Jubilee (cf. Luke 4:18-19) is descriptive of God’s vision for the world.
SCUPE is committed to:
1. Uplifting church and community ministry models that practice social justice and peacemaking in urban neighborhoods in ways that reflect God’s presence and providence in the world;
2. Using urban contextual theological education as a vehicle to teach both pastors and church leaders;
3. Understanding diversity as an expression of the richness of God’s creation;
4. Facilitating the development of community-based leadership as vital to the revitalization of economically marginalized urban communities;
5. Promoting justice-seeking and peacemaking as strategies for transforming communities and ushering in God’s vision for a more just and inclusive world;
6. Modeling collaboration in partnerships, programs in all educational activities.
7. Learning from individuals and institutions around the world about how to address the ever broadening challenges of urban life;
8. Seeking new means of sharing our educational resources with church and community organizations at both the local and global levels; and
9. Fostering ecumenical and interfaith relationships in urban communities.
SCUPE’s core values in relation to education include the following:
1. Student-centered learning communities, in which students articulate their own learning agendas, work in cohorts, and faculty value the experience and wisdom students bring to the learning experience;
2. Contextual learning, in which the starting point of theological reflection is the student’s experience and interaction with people and institutions at the grassroots;
3. Culturally-rooted learning, in which students have space for privileged theological reflection within their own cultural context and community; and
4. Dialogical-learning, in which, following the in-depth articulation of one’s cultural and theological reflection, space is created for dialogue among students of different cultural backgrounds and theological persuasions.
SCUPE Board Members
Ms. Lydia Murray, Chair
Civic Consulting Alliance
Pastor Ben Dueholm, Secretary
Messiah Lutheran Church
Mr. Case Hoogendoorn, Treasurer
Hoogendoorn & Talbot, LLP
Ms. Cheryl Hammock, Out-going Chair
Chilanta Community Foundation
Rev. Dr. Charles Amjad-Ali
St. Paul, MN
Dr. Kenneth W. Bensen
Habitat for Humanity of Michigan
Rev. Dr. Tim Douma
Loop Christian Ministries
Ms. Megan Hunt
Ms. Consuelo R. Miller, Esq.
Law Office of Consuelo R. Miller, Ltd.
Rev. Dr. Bruce Modahl
Grace Lutheran Church and School
River Forest, IL
David A. Noyes & Company
Dr. Zenobia Sowell-Bianchi
So-Well Dental Associates
Dr. Jeffrey Spahn
Leading Leaders, Inc.
Rev. Dr. Shanta Premawardhana, President
Rev. Dr. Shanta Premawardhana is president of SCUPE. A Baptist pastor from Sri Lanka, he was most recently the director for the Program Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation at the World Council of Churches (WCC), a worldwide fellowship of 349 Protestant and Orthodox churches based in Geneva, Switzerland. Prior to moving to Geneva, Premawardhana served as the Associate General Secretary for Interfaith Relations at the National Council of Churches of Christ, based in New York. Following seminary education in Sri Lanka and India, Premawardhana arrived in the United States in 1981 for graduate study at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, where he earned his M.A. and Ph.D, in Religion. Continuing to live in the Chicago area, he founded the Chicago Ashram of Jesus Christ, a Christian community with an outreach to South Asian immigrants from many cultural backgrounds and religious traditions and served for fourteen years as senior pastor of Ellis Avenue Church located in the south side of Chicago. You can see his full bio here.
Iris Alvarado, Administrative Assistant
Advanced Latino/a Theological Education (ALTE)
Ms. Iris Alvarado is administrative assistant for SCUPE’s Advanced Latino/a Theological Education (ALTE) program. In her short time on the job, she has become a critical communication link between ALTE’s leadership staff and students who are inquiring about the program. Her key responsibilities include reception duties, administrative support, financial assistance, record-keeping, and registrar activities. Iris has previously worked in the medical field–for an orthopedic surgeon and at Chicago’s Children’s Memorial Hospital. She is a member of Iglesia de Dios Pentecostal in Chicago’s Humboldt Park community.
Dody Finch, Registrar
Ms. Dody Finch is currently SCUPE’s registrar and assists with various operational tasks. She has served in that role since 1999. But her working relationship with SCUPE dates back to 1976 when she was one of SCUPE’s first volunteers. In 1980 she began nearly five years of full-time work with SCUPE – assisting with records, development, and financial operations. For the next 15 years she served as the administrative assistant/financial secretary at two different churches in Evanston. Dody is a 1982 graduate of Northeastern University, B.A. in Psychology. In 2006 she completed 14 hours in graduate studies at North Park Theological Seminary and received a certificate in Christian Spirituality.
Mark Hannan, Director of Marketing & Communications
Mark Hannan is the Director of Marketing & Communications at SCUPE. Mark graduated from SCUPE’s Graduate Theological Urban Studies (GTUS) program and directed SCUPE’s 2011 Congress on Urban Ministry: “Peacemaking In A Culture Of Violence”. He has a M.A. in Urban Ministry from Luther Seminary in St. Paul, MN and has done thesis work on the interplay between Globalization and the biblical traditions of Sabbath and Jubilee. During his studies, Mark interned with the Faith Community of Saint Sabina and worked as the Community Relations Manager for the community development non-profit: the Beloved Community. Mark has experience working with youth as well as developing music and liturgy. He is a musician and lover of all instruments with strings and frets.
Rev. Zach Mills, Director
Center for African American Theological Education (CAATS)
A native of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, Mills earned his B.A. in Print Journalism and a minor in Religious Studies from Western Kentucky University in 2003 and his Master of Divinity from Vanderbilt, where he received the Saint James Academy Award for excellence in preaching. He is currently earning his Master of Arts degree in Homiletics and Liturgics at Vanderbilt. Mills is the author of two books, The Wellspring of Life (Pneuma Publishing International Inc., 2008) and Ghetto of Eden: the Poetic Battle between Humanity and Hip Hop (Pneuma Publishing, 2004). He currently serves as adjunct faculty for homiletics at the University of Chicago Divinity School.
Eliseo Pérez-Álvarez, Director
Advanced Latino/a Theological Education (ALTE)
Dr. Pérez-Álvarez has studied theology and philosophy in Mexico City, Atlanta, Chicago and Copenhagen. Before he joined the SCUPE family he was a professor of Systematic Theology at the Seminario Teológico Presbiteriano de México; at the Seminario Evangélico de Puerto Rico and at the Lutheran Seminary Program of the Southwest. An ordained pastor for more than 30 years, Dr. Eliseo Pérez-Álvarez has done pastoral work and Hispanic ministry in Mexico, USA, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. His academic interests include historical theology, Kierkegaard’s social thought, Hispanic Liberation Theology and Food and Faith. The author of several articles and reviews, Dr. Pérez-Álvarez has published ten books. He has lectured, delivered workshops and preached all over the United States, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Germany, Sweden, Brazil and other countries.
Director of Operations/Director of Development
Ms. Nancy Renick is director of development and operations at SCUPE. She has experience as a planning consultant in both the non-profit and for-profit sectors. Her previous work includes service as chief operating officer and executive director at interfaith agencies. Nancy holds a MBA degree from Northwestern University and has held senior financial management positions at the American Medical Association, Soft Sheen Products and Borg-Warner Corporation. Nancy is a founding board member of a tutoring agency for underserved Chicago youth, and is a member of First United Methodist Church of Chicago. She has extensive lay leadership involvement at both local and conference levels of the United Methodist Church.
Rev. Felisa Roman, Associate Director
Advanced Latino/a Theological Education (ALTE)
Rev. Felisa Roman is program coordinator of the Advanced Latino/a Theological Education (ALTE) program. Committed to theological education in Latino churches, she has also served as the director of the Instituto Bíblico Ebenezer for the Iglesia de Dios Pentecostal. Rev. Roman holds degrees from Valparaiso University, McCormick Theological Seminary, and the University of Chicago. An active member of the Iglesia de Dios Pentecostal – Emanuel in East Chicago, IN. Felisa is also an ordained chaplain. She sees herself as a “bridge” between various sectors of the church as well as the church and academia.
Rev. Tanya Sadagopan, Director
Continuing Education and Outreach
Rev. Tanya Sadagopan is the Director of Continuing Education and Outreach. This position oversees two programs at SCUPE: first offering workshops for professionals in the field of Urban Ministry, and second initiating a SCUPE alumni program. Additionally, she serves as director of the Congress on Urban Ministry held every 2 to 3 years. Tanya is a graduate of the GTUS program, has led workshops at Congresses and served as Logistics Coordinator for the Public Action March against gun violence at the 2011 Congress. Tanya shares a passion for preaching and teaching and believes in a relevant faith where the scriptures jump off the pages and into our lives. Ordained in 2007 by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and a ministerial partner with the United Church of Christ, Tanya has served in family ministries and transforming congregations in the Chicago area. She holds two Masters degrees, an M.Div. from Christian Theological Seminary, and an M.A. in Sociology from The Ohio State University where she focused on Social Movements and Religion. Tanya has taught Sociology at the university level, worked as a Fundraiser at The Hunger Project, and leads programs on society and faith including interfaith engagement in the Chicago community.
Angela Samuel, Accountant
Ms. Angela Samuel serves as SCUPE’s accountant. Angela views her position at SCUPE as a ministry of financial management and stewardship, one that enables SCUPE to responsibly serve its multiple audiences: students, churches, and communities. A native Chicagoan, Angela also has other hidden skills. When she is not working with numbers; Angela enjoys being a camera operator for the Rainbow PUSH Coalition live broadcasts and was formerly a member of the video team for Salem Baptist Church of Chicago’s television ministry. Angela is a graduate of Roosevelt University (Chicago).
Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary
Christian Theological Seminary
Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary
Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary
St. Paul, MN
Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago
Payne Theological Seminary
Pittsburgh Theological Seminary
Trinity Lutheran Seminary
Western Theological Seminary
The success of our ministry at SCUPE depends on generous contributions from committed churches, foundations and individuals. If you have questions about making a donation, please feel free to call the SCUPE office at 312-726-1200 and speak with Nancy Renick, firstname.lastname@example.org
Donations can be mailed to:
Attn: Nancy Renick
205 W. Monroe St. – Suite 300
Chicago, IL 60606
Or donate online now:
SCUPE also values the time given to our ministry by dedicated volunteers. If you are interested in volunteering opportunities, please call us at 312-726-1200 or e-mail us at email@example.com.
Thank you for your consideration, prayers and support.