Institute for Ecumenical and Cultural Research Names Donald B. Ottenhoff as Executive Director

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August 29, 2003

COLLEGEVILLE, Minn. -- The Board of Directors of the Institute for Ecumenical and Cultural Research ( in Collegeville, Minn., has named Donald B. Ottenhoff, Senior Editor of The Christian Century, to be the Institute's Executive Director, beginning June 1, 2004. He will succeed Patrick Henry, who is retiring after 20 years in the office.

Ottenhoff, an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA), joined the editorial staff of the Century in 1991 and has been Senior Editor since 1998. The journal, now in its 120th year and with a circulation of 30,000, is a major voice for ecumenical Christianity. Ottenhoff says that Century editors "have to pay close attention to developments within both the ecclesial and theological worlds, spot and attract talented voices to the publication from across the spectrum of American Christianity, and help scholars and writers sharpen and clarify their thinking and writing toward the goal of communicating their ideas to a broad audience."

Ottenhoff believes that the Institute has a pivotal role to play as churches attempt to navigate the currents coursing through the world. "American culture is at once aggressively secular, assertively religious, and pluralistically so and less tied to its European cultural moorings," he notes. "The kind of cultural research carried out at the Institute is exciting, important and offers assistance to Christians and others who have to live out their lives in such fluid cultural conditions. I look forward to helping the Institute continue to be a place where a wide range of ecumenical practitioners can carry on their work of intellectual and practical discipleship."

Board member Mary Farrell Bednarowski, professor of Religious Studies at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities, spoke on behalf of the search committee she chaired, "We enjoyed the privilege of interviewing very strong candidates whose lengthy and varied experiences with ecumenism were both impressive and inspiring. It was Don's creative way of looking at multiple relationships between ecumenism and culture that made him the perfect candidate for this moment in the Institute's history."

Chair of the Board Carol Stiles, Presbyterian Elder of Foley, Minn. and Moderator of the Minnesota Valleys Presbytery, says, "I really am thrilled that Don is willing to provide the leadership to implement the Board's vision for the future of the Institute."

Ottenhoff, a native of Chicago, did his undergraduate work at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich., and has a Master of Divinity degree from McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago. He is married to Kathleen Cahalan, assistant professor of theology in the Saint John's School of Theology Seminary.

For more information about the Institute for Ecumenical and Cultural Research, visit