Written by Gregg Brekke
UCC related Chicago Theological Seminary (CTS) dedicated its new state-of-the-art, environmentally friendly building Friday, Oct. 21, 2011. The liturgy of dedication, held in a tent adjacent to the nearly-completed building, included students, faculty and staff, and featured music by Sweet Honey in the Rock and speeches by UCC General Minister and President the Rev. Geoffrey A. Black and the Hon. Willie Cochran, Alderman of Chicago’s 20th ward.
The 80,000-square-foot building, located at 1407 East 60th Street at Dorchester Avenue in Chicago, is LEED-Silver certified and includes a 5,000 square foot green roof and energy saving features.
The first and second floors will house faculty and staff offices, classrooms, a small chapel, and a meditation space. The third floor will house the learning and student commons. A worship space and dining room are located on the fourth floor, adjacent to the green roof.
"Our new home is not only more conducive to our central work—teaching and learning—but it is also meant to inspire," said the Rev. Alice Hunt, CTS president, in the dedication program. She summarized the many features and functions of the building by saying that in it, "you will find beauty with purpose."
"I am always reminded that for the church, buildings are tools," said Black. "We acquire them for the purpose of advancing mission and ministry. On this occasion the mission is theological education in support of the ongoing ministry of the church in the world."
Donald Clark, chairperson of the CTS board of trustees and a special counsel to the national settings of the UCC, and his wife, Ellen, made a gift for the project of $1 million in early 2011 through their Clark Family Foundation.
"This difficult and important decision benefited from a process of community-wide education, deliberation and collaboration that reflected CTS at its best," said Clark. "We not only made an important decision for the institution, we also learned how best to process future challenges facing the community."
The UCC's Executive Minister for Local Church Ministries, the Rev. J. Bennett Guess, attended the event and called the dedication "a call and challenge to all of us to ensure that the buildings that house each of our seven UCC seminaries enjoy the groundswell of financial support they will need to ensure their stability and growth both immediately and in the future."
"The dedication of a new home for Chicago Theological Seminary was an inspirational, joyous event and a milestone moment for one of our fine UCC institutions," said Guess. "The pride we felt, as UCC members, was palpable."
Also present was the Rev. Felix Carrion, the UCC's Stillspeaking Ministry coordinator and CTS trustee who said, "It was a great joy to be present for the extraordinary events surrounding the blessed dedication of the new building of Chicago Theological Seminary."
"There are clear memorable moments when one feels the Spirit pulsating and moving in the midst of a people gathered with eager expectations to mark new beginnings filled with incredible promise," said Carrion. "This was one of those times—a state-of-the-art building, with architectural designs that open to magnificent spaces, for learning, progressive engagement of the mind, mission in the world, is now a reality to behold and enjoy, in the life of CTS, the UCC and theological education.”
Construction of the new CTS facility is a partnership between the University of Chicago and Chicago Theological Seminary. In May 2008, the University of Chicago board of trustees executive committee authorized the purchase of two Chicago Theological Seminary buildings and an adjacent parking lot. Additionally, the University of Chicago agreed to construct the new seminary building at 60th Street and Dorchester Avenue.
CTS is scheduled to move into the new space in January 2012, following the end of the fall semester.