Christian Theological Seminary hires leader with social justice background

Indianapolis-based Christian Theological Seminary announced Sunday that after a national search it has hired a new president, an ordained minister with the United Church of Christ from Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

david mellottDavid Mellott

The Rev. David Mellott, who most recently served as vice president of academic affairs , seminary dean and professor for Lancaster Theological Seminary, specializes among other subjects in social justice issues, including the liberation of gay clergy. He officially starts the job July 1, becoming the seventh president in the existence of the ecumenical graduate school.

Mellott, 55, was ordained as a Roman Catholic priest. He is relocating to Indianapolis with his husband, the Rev. Lance Mullins.

He'll succeed interim president Bill Kincaid, who took over for Matthew Myer Boulton in September 2017. Boulton held the job for six years.

Mellott told IBJ he was excited about the move because CTS “has an impressive history of standing for justice and, at the same time, supporting individual people in their search for fulfillment, health, holiness and flourishing.” 

“Christian Theological Seminary’s commitment to racial and gender justice is now, as much as ever, essential to being faithful, authentic and engaged,” Mellott said in written comments. 

Mellott comes to the seminary at a time of change. The seminary in late 2017 sold its buildings and 40 acres of land to Butler University. CTS remains on its current north-side campus through a long-term lease with Butler.

“A leadership transition always presents an opportunity for renewed focus, refreshed energy, and a more crystalline and distilled vision for the future,” said Liz Klimes, chair of CTS’ board of trustees, in written remarks. “The CTS Board of Trustees is excited about the possibilities that await us as we welcome David Mellott to CTS and the greater Indianapolis community.”

Mellott told IBJ that he believes CTS is well-prepared to adapt to the future. 

“They’ve made some fundamental decisions about where they’re going to invest their time,” Mellott said. “They made the hard decisions to sell the campus. They’ve freed up their energy.”

He said that energy could be well-suited to invest back into CTS’ connections with the greater Indianapolis community.

“Seminaries were intentionally designed to create or to train pastors in this country,” Mellott said. “While that will continue to be the case, there’s a strong need for the ability to do theological reflection beyond the traditional leadership component. And I think that the next step will be to think about what kind of programming is needed to make that happen. “

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