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Disciples House Opening Retreat


The Disciples House community began the new academic year with the now-annual Opening Retreat on Sunday and Monday, August 13 and 14.  New and returning students gathered at the Disciples House to pack sleeping bags, pillows, food, and bug spray for the overnight event at Bethany Hills Church Camp near Kingston Springs, Tennessee.

The purpose of the retreat is to spend time together, to get acquainted with the diverse gifts each brings; to worship and build community among residents and non-resident Disciples; to facilitate harmonious living and learning together; and to consider our place in our vocational paths, and the role of School and House in it.

The agenda was full, beginning with worship, welcome, and icebreakers. After dinner, House trustee and counselor Susan Hammonds-White talked with the group of twenty-two about the listening and living skills needed in community.  The evening ended with popcorn and a wonderful movie, “Of Gods and Men.”

On Sunday, students woke to breakfast together and a shared time of Vespers by the lake. The House “elders” shared wisdom for survival at Vanderbilt Divinity School and in Nashville, as well as lots of helpful tips about student life. Residents also discussed and planned House programming for the year.

After lunch, Dean Mark Miller McLemore spoke to the group on theological education at Disciples House: “Why We Do What We Do” (available at We heard from a panel of ministers who discussed their theological education experiences. Panel leaders were Kelley Dick, Associate Minister at First Christian Church, Bowling Green, Kentucky—Lexington Theological Seminary; Tallu Schuyler Quinn, Minister of Outreach at Woodmont Christian Church and Executive Director of The Food Project—Union Theological Seminary; Thomas Kleinert, Senior Minister, Vine St. Christian Church, whose theological education was in Germany; and Casey Sigmon, new House resident and PhD student, McCormick Theological Seminary.  We were grateful to hear the broad range of experiences they brought us and for the insight about the experience at Vanderbilt it brings.

Late in the day, everyone returned to Nashville for dinner together at Mellow Mushroom.

The retreat has been funded by a grant from the Oreon E. Scott Foundation, for which we are grateful.


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