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 a fuller bio here.

Rev.Dr. Charles Amjad-AliRev. Dr. Charles Amjad-Ali, Academic Dean

Rev. Charles Amjad-Ali, Ph.D., Th.D. is the Martin Luther King, Jr. Chair of Justice and Christian Community, and Director of Islamic Studies at Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minnesota emeritus. He was the Desmond Tutu Chair of Ecumenical Theology and Social Transformation in Africa at the University of Western Cape in South Africa, during the summer of 2013. Among many others he has lectured at Princeton, Notre Dame, St. Thomas, Temple, Uppsala (in Sweden), Freiburg and Frankfurt (in Germany), Stellenbosch, UNISA, Western Cape, Johannesburg (in South Africa) Universities and as well as at Princeton, and Union Theological Seminaries, and served on faculties in South Africa, Sweden, England, Germany, Australia, Japan, the Philippines, and his native Pakistan.

He is an ordained presbyter of the Church of Pakistan. He was the director of the Christian Study Center in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, which focused on Christian-Muslim dialogue, peace advocacy, and human rights work, from 1985 till 1995, the director of political education at the Aurat (Women) Foundation in Pakistan, in 1995-96, and was a founding member of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. He was chair of the Urban Rural Mission (URM) of the Commission on World Mission and Evangelism (CWME) of the World Council of Churches (WCC) in 1992 and was a core member URM/CWE from 1989-1993. He was also one of the members of the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches from 1989-1993 and for the Christian Conference of Asia from 1993-1996.

He has a Ph.D. in Theology and Political Philosophy, from Princeton Theological Seminary, a  post-doctoral certificate in Islamic Law and History from Columbia University, and has received a special honorary doctorate in theology from the University of Uppsala, Sweden, in 1995.

His recent publications include  Dreaming A Different World: Globalisation and Justice for Humanity and the Earth, The Challenge of the Accra Confession for the Churches, ed., with Allan Boesak and Johan Weusmann (2010); Leaving the Shadows? Pakistani Christians and the Search for Orientation in an Overwhelmingly Muslim Society, with Theodor Hanf, (2008); and Islamophobia or Restorative Justice: Tearing the Veil of Ignorance (2006).

You can read a fuller 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 SCUPE RegistrarDody 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 Congress Director and Manager of Communications & Marketing SCUPE

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 is the Director of the Center for African American Theological Studies at SCUPE

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).


Rev. Dr. Eliseo Pérez-Álvarez 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.

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.

Rev. Felisa Roman is the program coordinator for ALTE at SCUPERev. 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 SadagopanRev. 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.  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.

Dani SamonsDani 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 accountantAngela 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).

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.

Register for the 2014 Congress on Urban Ministry

Go to the E-Giving Online Transaction System

What you will find at the 2014 Congress On Urban Ministry:

Renowned Speakers who will challenge, transform, and inspire the way you think about economic justice in our communities.

Engaging Worship that merges prophetic preaching with scripture and song that will fill you.

Inspiring Sacred Text Study that will reframe your thinking about the economic justice issues in communities and networks within your religious tradition and beyond.

50+ Workshops and Seminars guided by leaders will give you the skills, tools and motivation to turn inspiration into action in your community.

A Call to Action declaring with one voice urban leaders, clergy, and theologians to build just economies in our congregations & communities at home and abroad.

Support SCUPE

Go to the E-Giving Online Transaction System

Up-Coming Classes

Transformación urbana desde los márgenes (ALTE)
Rev. Dr. Zaki L. Zaki
April 25-26, May 2-3, 16-17, 23-24
(viernes 6pm - 10pm y sábados 8:30am - 4pm)

Womanist Theology (CAATS)
Dr. Joanne Terrell
Independent Study

Restoring Urban Communities (GTUS)
Dr. Mary Nelson
May 2-3, 9-10, 16-17
(Fridays 1-9pm; Saturdays 9am-5pm)

La justicia social en el contexto latino (ALTE)
Dr. Richard F. Morrisroe
May 30-31, June 13-14, 27-28, July 11-12
(viernes 6pm - 10pm y sábados 8:30am - 4pm)

Dimensions and Dynamics of Urban Ministry (GTUS course page)
Dr. Yvonne Delk
June 2-6, 9-13
(Mondays to Fridays from 9am-5pm)

Interfaith Intensive: Christian Theology’s Encounter with the Urban Multi-Religious World (GTUS course page)
Dr. Paul Knitter; Rev. Dr. Shanta Premawardhana; and Rev. Dr. Charles Amjad-Ali
June 2-7
(Monday to Saturday from 9am-5pm)

Good News for the City: Together Building A Just Economy (GTUS)
Rev. Bill Wylie-Kellermann
June 23-26
*Location: Taught in conjunction with the national conference: the Congress of Urban Ministry. Fees include event registration.

Perspectiva teológica de la Inmigración (ALTE)
Rev. Dr. Eliseo Pérez-Álvarez
July 18-19, August 1-2, 15-16, 29-30
(viernes 6pm - 10pm y sábados 8:30am - 4pm)

Eco-Justice: A Vision for a Sustainable City (GTUS)
Dr. Clinton Stockwell; Pam and Lan Richert of the Eco Justice Collaborative
Fall 2014 - TBA
(Fridays 1-9pm; Saturdays 9am-5pm)

Desarrollo económico en la comunidad latina (ALTE)
Dr. Shirley Pulgar-Hughes & Dr. Timothy R. Eberhart
TBA (September - October)
(viernes 6pm - 10pm y sábados 8:30am - 4pm)

Public Issues In Urban Ministry (GTUS course page)
Rev. Dr. Dave Frenchak
Fall 2014 - TBA
(Fridays 1-9pm; Saturdays 9am-5pm)

Cuidado Pastoral en la Comuniad Latin@ (ALTE)
Dr. Daniel S. Schipani
Sept 5-6, Oct. 3-4 & 31, Nov. 1 & 14-15
(viernes 6pm - 10pm y sábados 8:30am - 4pm)