Written by Gregg Brekke
Chicago Theological Seminary has named the Rev. John H. Thomas as Senior Advisor to the President and Visiting Professor in Church Ministries. Thomas' appointment will take effect Jan. 1, 2010. He concludes his term as General Minister and President of the UCC on Sept. 30, 2009.
In this newly created position, Thomas will play a strategic role in promoting and enhancing the national and global profile of CTS. Thomas will also cultivate relationships with key constituents and congregations; support strategic fund raising efforts; foster student and faculty recruitment; provide leadership development opportunities for students, alumni/ae, and national religious leaders; and teach courses.
"John's well-recognized accomplishments, his strong relationships throughout the religious community, and his wisdom will further CTS' efforts to provide a vibrant model for the rigorous education of religious leadership as we work toward greater justice and mercy," said Alice Hunt, president of Chicago Theological Seminary. "I look forward to working with John to meet the emerging challenges of theological education for our rapidly changing world."
"Chicago Theological Seminary offers students the opportunity to learn from outstanding scholars and accomplished religious practitioners," said Don Clark, chair of the seminary's Board of Trustees. "The addition of John Thomas reaffirms CTS' commitment to outstanding theological education and developing future generations of religious leadership."
Elected General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ in 1999, Thomas served for the next decade as the convener of the Collegium of Officers of the UCC as well as the church's principal spokesperson on theological and public issues and official representative in ecumenical and interfaith relations.
From 1992 to 1999 he served as assistant to the president of the United Church of Christ for Ecumenical Concerns. In that role, he represented the UCC in theological dialogues and in conciliar bodies including the World and National Councils of Churches.
Thomas also served as the ecumenical representative to the General Board of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and was instrumental in developing the 1998 full communion agreement between the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and three reformed churches: the Reformed Church in America, the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the UCC.
"I am eager to begin working with the outstanding leadership at CTS to strengthen and expand its institutional relationships and to being part of the positive experience of its students," said Thomas. "CTS excels at educating men and women of faith by fostering questioning and critical dialogue that promote the understanding and skills necessary for future leadership and ministry."
Following his 1975 ordination, Thomas served as associate minister of the First Congregational UCC in Cheshire, Conn., through 1981 and as minister of the First UCC in Easton, Pa., until 1991.
Thomas graduated from Gettysburg (Pa.) College in 1972 and Yale University Divinity School in 1975. He studied at the Ecumenical Institute in Bossey, Switzerland, in 1988 and has written numerous articles on ecumenical issues.