About Scupe


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's Mission

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
Chicago, IL

Rev. Ben Dueholm, Secretary
Messiah Lutheran Church
Wauconda, IL

Mr. Case Hoogendoorn, Treasurer
Hoogendoorn & Talbot, LLP
Chicago, IL

Ms. Cheryl Hammock, Out-going Chair
Chilanta Community Foundation
Chicago, IL

Dr. Gaspar Colon
Washington Adventist University,
Tacoma Park, MD

Dr. Kenneth W. Bensen
Habitat for Humanity of Michigan
Lansing, MI

Rev. Dr. Tim Douma
Loop Christian Ministries
Chicago, IL

Dr. Susan Harlow
Bexley Hall – Seabury Western Seminary Federation
Chicago, IL

Ms. Megan Hunt
Champro Sports
Chicago, IL

Ms. Consuelo R. Miller, Esq.
Law Office of Consuelo R. Miller, Ltd.
Chicago, IL

Rev. Dr. Bruce Modahl
Grace Lutheran Church and School
River Forest, IL

Mr. Eli Sanchez
David A. Noyes & Company
Chicago, IL

Dr. Zenobia Sowell-Bianchi
So-Well Dental Associates
Chicago, IL

Dr. Jeffrey Spahn
Leading Leaders, Inc.
Chicago, IL

Rev. Dr. Shanta PremawardhanaRev. 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 read Shanta’s full bio here.


Iris Alvarado-Velazquez, Administrative Assistant


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 SCUPE Registrar

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.


S. Harlow Headshot

Rev. Dr. Susan Harlow, Interim Academic Dean


An ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, Dr. Harlow has taught for over 20 years in institutions of theological education. A graduate of Hollins University, she earned her Master of Divinity at Andover Newton Theological School and a Masters of Theology at Harvard Divinity School. Her doctorate is from Columbia University in its joint program with Union Theological Seminary in Religion and Education.

“I have long taught with one contextual component to my courses in public ministry, congregational development, and religious education. It is exciting to join with SCUPE in its holistic approach to urban contextual theological education.  The church and people of faith in the 21st century must take seriously the racial and cultural diversity as well as the justice issues present within the city.  SCUPE is the place where this happens,” she writes.

She was most recently the Director for Congregational Development and Professor of Practical Theology where she directed the D.Min. programs at Bexley Hall Seabury Western Seminary Federation, and prior to that she taught Congregational Studies at Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago.

Nancy Renick, 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.

Dani Samons

Dani Samons, Development Coordinator


Dani Samons serves as the Development Coordinator for SCUPE and a transplant to Chicago from the east coast. In 2011 Dani completed her Bachelors of Business Administration in Marketing from Loyola University Chicago. Dani’s work experience is deeply rooted in non-profit fundraising and event planning, which is where her passion lies. Beyond SCUPE, Dani volunteers her time at the National MS Society Greater IL Chapter, serving as the logistics chair for Walk MS Chicago Lakefront. Dani sits on the GOLD (Graduates of the Last Decade) Board of Loyola University Chicago and is involved with other organizations around Chicago and beyond.


Angela Samuel SCUPE accountant

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).


Marcus Tabb

Marcus Tabb, Program Assistant & Recruiter
Center for African American Theological Education (CAATS)

Rev. Marcus Tabb is an Ordained Itinerate Deacon and the Senior Pastor at Hyde Park A.M.E. Church in the West Pullman area of Chicago. As a senior at Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University, he will be Graduating in May 2014 with a Masters of Divinity degree.  He was blessed to marry his soul mate and partner in ministry Rev. Robyn Tabb in 1992 and God has blessed them with three talented sons Max, Marcus and Michael.  He accepted his call to ministry in 1999 and is working on his education for the purpose of continuing ministry.  He currently serves as a Recruiter and Program Assistant for The Center for African American Theological Studies (CAATS) under the Seminary Consortium for Urban Pastoral Education (SCUPE).

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, nancy@scupe.com

Donations can be mailed to:

Attn: Nancy Renick
205 W. Monroe St. – Suite 300
Chicago, IL 60606

Or donate online now:

Please consider setting up automatic monthly withdrawals from your debit/credit card or your checking account through e-giving:

Support SCUPE

How Your Money will Stretch

$100,000 Will finance the technological infrastructure necessary to scale up on-line learning
$50,000 Will help recruit a program assistant for CAATS to manage its substantial growth
$25,000 Will help SCUPE create a set of courses in Religious Diversity and Interfaith Relations
$10,000 Will help upgrade the SCUPE website
$5,000 Will provide a scholarship to a student with high leadership potential to earn a certificate in urban ministry
$1,000 Will subsidize the cost of a course for an ALTE student.
$500 Will subsidize the cost for a participant in a Continuing Education workshop
$100 Will buy wi-fi service for a month

Many Ways To Give:

Many companies offer matching gift programs to encourage employees to contribute to charitable organizations. Most of these programs match contributions dollar for dollar.

SCUPE is able to accept gifts of tangible personal property, including Real Estate. SCUPE can also liquidate a contribution of personal property.

A gift of stock (or other appreciated property) entitles you to a tax SCUPE is registered in the State of Illinois as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.deduction for the market value of the donated stock. SCUPE benefits by selling the stock without paying taxes on the gain.

Planned gifts are an important means to build a strong financial foundation to support the mission and work of the SCUPE. Bequests, charitable trusts, retirement assets, and life insurance are just some of the ways you can provide a lasting legacy

GIFTS of TIME & Talents
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 urbanmin@scupe.com.

Thank you for your consideration, prayers and support.

Support SCUPE

Go to the E-Giving Online Transaction System

Up-Coming Classes

Urban Principalities & the Spirit of the City (GTUS)
Rev. Bill Wylie Kellerman
February 6-7; 13-14; 20-21, 2015
Fridays, 1pm – 9pm; Saturdays 8:30am – 4pm
B-Th 302

History of the Latin@ Church in the U.S. (ALTE)
Dr. Carmelo Alvarez
February 6-7; 27-28; March 13-14; 27-28, 2015
(Friday/viernes 6pm - 9pm y Saturday/sábados 8:30am - 4pm)

Proctor Conference Course (CAATS)
Faculty TBA
February 7-12, 2015
Time & Location TBA
Eth 431

Christology and Culture (GTUS)
Dr. Jim Perkinson
March 13-14, 20-21, 27-28; 2015
Fridays 1pm-9pm; Saturdays 9am-5pm
M 304

The Art of Prophetic Preaching in the Urban Context (GTUS)
Rev. Dr. Otis Moss, III; Rev. Martha Simmons, J.D.; Dr. M. Susan Harlow
April 10-11, 17-18, 24-25; 2015
Fridays 1pm-9pm; Saturdays 9am-5pm
M 306

Restoring Urban Communities (GTUS)
Dr. Mary Nelson
May 1-2, 8-9, 15-16; 2015
Fridays 1pm-9pm; Saturdays 9am-5pm
S-H 305

Support SCUPE

Go to the E-Giving Online Transaction System