It is with mixed emotions that we announce the retirement of two of our beloved faculty, Dr. Therese DeLisio and the Rev. Dr. KyungJa (KJ) Oh.
KJ Oh was named Director of Field Education and Formation in 2014 by former President Roger Ferlo and was initially based at Bexley Hall in Columbus, Ohio. She came to Bexley Seabury after being rector of The Episcopal Church of the Advent in Walnut Hills, Ohio. Previously, she served in the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago and was the dean of the Rockford Deanery. She was chaplain for the Oncology Department at Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights, IL. She studied theology at Cambridge University in England, French literature at the Sorbonne, and holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Illinois Wesleyan University, an MDiv from Seabury-Western, and a DMin from Bexley Seabury.
Former Academic Dean Therese (Terry) DeLisio has taught theology, worship, and interreligious women’s studies at Chicago-area seminaries and universities, including Seabury-Western Theological Seminary for seven years. When she was named Academic Dean of Bexley Seabury in 2016, she was Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at her alma mater, Union Theological Seminary in New York. Terry is a systematic theologian, liturgical scholar, theological educator and an attorney. Born in Brooklyn, New York, Terry earned degrees at three nearby institutions: M.Div. and Ph.D. in systematic theology and worship at Union Theological Seminary; a J.D. at St. John’s University School of Law in Jamaica, New York; and a B.A. in psychology at Brooklyn’s St. Francis College.
Both women have served faithfully and have made an enormous impact on the formation and education of our seminarians—past and present. President Micah Jackson shared, “Terry DeLisio’s leadership as Academic Dean has been nothing short of transformational for Bexley Seabury. She implemented changes to our course scheduling and course delivery practices that have clarified and streamlined student pathways through the program. It’s made our seminary more accessible and our students more successful. KJ Oh’s extensive experience with congregational life, coupled with her innovative scholarship in community learning has been the foundation of our contextual education program. She has frequently been named as one of the most influential and well-loved professors on our faculty.”
Perhaps the greatest testament to how much their presence has mattered is by what students have had to say. “Dr. Therese has been nothing but supportive, encouraging and always made sure I get the best from my academics,” expressed Faith Mbuthia. “When I struggled with loss, she helped me. She believed in me and cleaned the front mirror for me to see and believe in myself. Bexley Seabury and all the people whose lives she’s changed, touched, or moved are blessed to have had her.”
The Rev. Donna Lockhart shared, “KJ has been an endless fountain of support, guidance, and faith throughout my time in seminary; from our first conversation about pathways to my ordination as a Transitional Deacon to this very day. She has handled my tears, my growth edges, and my unending questions with grace, kindness, and true compassion. I am very grateful that I came to rest in her loving and faithful hands upon entering Bexley Seabury.
Upon being asked what they might like to share with the church and the seminary community, KJ stated, “When my association with this seminary began in 1997, I never thought I would retire from here so many years later. I am so very thankful for the students with whom I have learned, and I am proud to have been part of the life of Bexley Seabury these past seven years, especially as we have been re-imagining a new direction for ourselves, for theological education and for ministry formation. Exciting things are brewing here, and I am eager to see how all our dreams come into being.” Terry expressed, “It has been such a privilege to serve as academic dean and as a faculty member at Bexley Seabury. I will be forever grateful for the opportunity to have worked with this committed faculty and staff, inspiring students, and brave board members in bringing the vision of a seminary beyond walls to life and to continuing growth.”
The Rev. Dr. Jason Fout, Bexley Seabury’s Academic Dean, said, “It is always bittersweet to say farewell to beloved colleagues and professors such as KJ and Terry. Their retirement at the end of June will conclude long and fruitful ministries here with us. They go with honor, respect, and warm best wishes. I know they have meant a great deal to each student here and have been cherished colleagues among the faculty and staff. I am grateful for all of their contributions to the life of Bexley Seabury, and I look forward to hearing about the next stages of their ministry.”
Bexley Seabury has been blessed by Terry’s and KJ’s contributions to the seminary community and the overall church and prays those blessings will be returned to them tenfold.