NASHVILLE (7/11/11) – Before an energized crowd of over 400, Lexington Theological Seminary (LTS) trustee chair Gary Kidwell exclaimed, “I don’t have good news today; I have great news!”
With that, Kidwell introduced Charisse Gillett as president-elect. “Dr Gillett has the vision, passion and demonstrated skills to lead us into the future God has for LTS,” declared Kidwell.
Gillett will be the Seminary’s 17th president, effective Sept. 1. With a doctorate in education from Northern Illinois University and more than 20 years of successful administrative experience in higher education, including stints at Transylvania University and Midway College, Gillett has been the Seminary’s vice president of administration and special projects since February 2010.
A former moderator of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the USA and Canada, Gillett is associate minister of East Second Street Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Lexington, Kentucky, where her husband, Donald Gillett II, is senior pastor. She is also a former LTS trustee and officer of the board.
After thanking the search committee and her predecessor, Jim Johnson, Gillett described the seminary as “poised” to provide quality pastoral education to everyone. “Now someone called by God can ‘yes’ to the call and ‘yes’ to the education they need and the church deserves.”
“I am absolutely committed to the church and to the work of the Seminary,” stated Gillett. “I view this as a ministry and am excited about the future of the Seminary, and the students and congregations we will be able to touch in the years to come as our program continues to grow in dynamic ways.”
Gillett praised the Seminary’s staff. “We have a wonderful team, and everyone is dedicated to our students and to the church. I am looking forward to working closely with them and leading the Seminary as we move forward into the next page of our story,” said Gillett.
Bearing witness to the seminary’s online with limited residency approach, third year Master of Divinity student Charla Gilbert stated that “all these changes will help strengthen our churches for the future. The quality of curriculum has remained very challenging and it is certainly formative in nature.”
“I was a doubter about maintaining relationships online,” admitted Gilbert, “but the last intensive together proved that our relationships are very strong and that we are shaping each other as ministers.”
In an interview before the luncheon, Gillett reflected on her selection as president as evidence of the seminary’s “desire to look forward and address the changes and challenges faced by our churches and those called to serve them. Our education is a new model of high quality where community is emphasized.”
Gillett is the first woman and first African-American to lead the Seminary as president in its 146 year history.
“In addition to the opportunities at the Seminary,” stated Gillett, “we are excited about participating in the ‘Flourishing in Ministry’ project and hope pastors throughout the denomination will participate. This is a very important project that could benefit clergy today and tomorrow.”
To learn more about the project, visit http://flourishing.nd.edu/DOC or email [email protected]
“Education at Lexington Theological Seminary can transform a person, their family, their congregation and their community,” asserted Gillett.
By Nathan Day Wilson