Monday, February 1, 2016

McCutchensRenie (WC’62) and Bill (E’62) McCutchen of Westport, Conn., have a long history of generous partnership with Duke Divinity School. With a particular passion for the work of reconciliation and ministries in East Africa, the McCutchens have created several endowed scholarship funds. They have also given their time and influence with faithful service on several key Divinity boards.

In 2015, the McCutchens continued their support of The Indiana/Kenya Field Education Partnership, which enables Divinity School students to serve their field education placements in Kenya (in cooperation with the Global Interfaith Partnership in Indianapolis, Ind.). Duke Divinity School partners with The UMOJA Project to create a network of churches and schools to serve vulnerable children and households in Kenya. That network now reaches more than 20 congregations, 18 schools, and 2,700 students. As part of their internship, Duke Divinity School students are also connected with congregations in Indianapolis, this past year specifically North United Methodist Church and Northminster Presbyterian Church.

Students are selected by application and interviews for the opportunity. Kadeisha Kilgore and Elizabeth Styron, both second-year M.Div. students, were selected, trained, and served their summer internship in Kenya. “This was an absolutely wonderful placement for me,” Styron said. “It was beautifully structured and has had a lasting impact on me. I have been transformed in several ways and have learned how ministry and social work intersect in a culture and environment that is different from mine. I am truly thankful for the experience and connections that I’ve made.” 

Other gifts this year from the McCutchens were designated for the Divinity Annual Fund, which provides financial aid for Divinity School students, and the Summer Institute, a five-day intensive conference in reconciliation for scholars and practitioners. As a result of the McCutchens’ support, a number of people from ministries including the YMCA and rescue missions around the country were able to attend Summer Institute at a reduced cost. This in turn allows the work of the Center for Reconciliation and Duke Divinity School to extend to ministries that grapple with social justice and reconciliation issues and to empower those practitioners with the theological foundation and practical encouragement in their work.

Through the Ruth Lilly Philanthropic Foundation, established by Renie’s late aunt, the McCutchens have also supported scholarships for Th.D. students at Duke Divinity School and provided operational support for the Center for Reconciliation. The effects of their generosity can be felt throughout East Africa, the ongoing work of the Center for Reconciliation, and the formation provided for Divinity School students who will become the next generation of scholars and ministry leaders.