With world-renowned teachers and alumni, CTS is the global leader in transformational religious studies. We offer several Masters and Doctoral degrees, including Masters in Divinity, Sacred Theology and Religious Leadership.

Gilberto Castañeda

The Gilberto Castañeda Award was established in 1994 in loving memory of Gilberto Castañeda, the “adopted” son of Dr. Theodore Jennings and Rev. Ronna Case. Gilberto first met Ronna Case in California, where she was engaged in developing mission congregations among undocumented workers from Mexico. Gilberto was an “inquirer” who “found the love of God so compelling that he became not only a member but also a leader in the new congregations of young people” being established by Rev. Case. He learned to play the guitar and, over the next five years, brought his gifts of music and ministry to Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches and Methodist congregations in both Chicago and Atlanta. In 1994, at the age of 29, he died of complications due to AIDS.

Of his life and this scholarship Dr. Jennings writes, “Gilberto was one of the people it would be easy to overlook…In honoring the memory of ‘one of the least of these,’ CTS also honors our common Lord.”

This award is presented either to openly gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered students or to those who actively support the openly gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered student community at Chicago Theological Seminary. It is an expression of the seminary’s commitment on behalf of these students to transform congregations from places of hostility and alienation to communities of hospitality and empowerment.

Castañeda Awards at Chicago Theological Seminary
2016-2017 - Rabbi Dr. Jay Michaelson, Hebrew University
Thursday, May 4, 2017 
5:15 pm Reception, 6:30 pm Lecture, "Queering Jewish Theology

Chicago Theological Seminary welcomes Rabbi Dr. Jay Michaelson as the 2017 Gilberto Castañeda speaker on Thursday, May 4, 2017. His lecture topic will be “Queering Jewish Theology.” Professor Michaelson is a non-denominational rabbi and a teacher of meditation in a Theravadan Buddhist lineage, and, in his other career, is the legal affairs columnist for The Daily Beast, a frequent commentator on NPR, and a longtime LGBT activist. Michaelson founded two LGBT Jewish nonprofits and two international LGBT initiatives, and was the author of the 2011 bestseller and Lambda Literary Award finalist God vs. Gay? The Religious Case for Equality. A widely-read commentator on contemporary Judaism, Michaelson was recently included on the Forward 50 list of influential American Jews.

Tickets are free but you will need to RSVP. To register, visit:

2015-2016 - The Reverend Dr. Pamela Lightsey, Boston University School of Theology
Jason Frey, PhD
Jennifer Sanders, MDiv

2014-2015 - Dr. Heather White, New College of Florida
Jason Carson Wilson, MDiv

2013-2014 - Dr. Laurel Schneider, Vanderbilt University
Rev. Teresa L. Smallwood, PhD

2012 - 2013 - Noach Dzmura
Britt Cox, M.Div.

2011-2012 - The Rev. Dr. Patrick Cheng, Episcopal Divinity School, speaker
Esther Baruja, M.Div.

2010-2011 - Dr. Emilie M. Townes, Yale Divinity School, speaker
Wendy Cooper, M.Div.
Jamie Hawley, M.Div.

2009-2010 - Dr. Ellen T. Armour, Vanderbilt Divinity School, speaker
Erik Koepnick, M.Div.
Emily Jones, M.Div.
Eileen Gebbie, M.Div.

2008-2009 – Dr. Alice Hunt, speaker
Kooper Knebel, M.Div.
Nate Metrick, M.Div.
Katherine Schofield, M.Div.

2007-2008 – Dr. Bo Myung Seo, speaker
Jennie Kitch, M.Div.
Benjamin Reynolds, Ph.D.

2006-2007 – Dr. Laurel C. Schneider, speaker 
Carlos Fernandez, M.A.
AnnMarie Kneebone, M.Div.
Mike Underhill, M.Div.

2005-2006 – Dr. Scott Haldeman, speaker
Sara Ross, M.Div.
Nicolette Siragusa, M.Div.

2004-2005 – speaker unknown
Anastasia McRae, M.Div.
Gregory Potts, M.Div.
Anthony Hollins, M.Div.

2003-2004 – The Rev. Elder Troy Perry, speaker
Gabriel Calderon, M.Div.
Susan Sparta, M.Div.

2002-2003 – Dr. Ted Jennings, speaker 
Matthew Emery, M.Div.
Anastasia McRae, M.Div.