Chicago Theological Seminary Honors Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient Robinson Lapp

The Rev. Robinson Lapp

On May 5, UCC-related Chicago Theological Seminary will honor the recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award. The annual award is an opportunity for the community to gather together and celebrate the achievements of the recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award. Award winners have demonstrated that they are pillars within their communities and best reflect our message of love and tolerance. This year, we honor CTS alumnus and Civil Rights Activist the Rev. Robinson Lapp, co-founder of CHHSM member Archway Housing and Services, Inc.

Lapp is an ordained United Church of Christ minister who has spent a lifetime “outside church doors” seeking to confront white privilege, systemic racism, and economic injustices. He will be honored during CTS’ Wednesday Reflections.

“Robb Lapp is the embodiment of the ethos of CTS. His dedication to making ministry real in a world without walls is inspiring. As Robb calls it, street ministry is a passion for meeting the very real needs of everyday people and communities  too often left behind by our fast paced, impersonal world,” said CTS President Stephen G. Ray. “For many years, his passion has been in the area of developing affordable housing for people and families living on the margins, particularly in gentrifying areas where affordable housing is scarce. Beyond exemplifying the spirit of CTS and our commitment to the world, he has been a strong supporter of the Seminary.”

Lapp became a civil rights activist in undergrad school before earning his B.D. at Chicago Theological Seminary in 1957. He later became a trustee of CTS and, with President the Rev. Dr. Susan Thistlethwaite, managed the reconstruction of Davis and McGiffert Halls. This led to the sale of CTS’ 57th Avenue Property to the University of Chicago and the creation of its new facility. In 2017, 60 years after his first degree, Robb earned Masters of Sacred Theology degree from CTS.

After ordination, while starting a new church in Colorado, Lapp joined the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. for the March on Washington, and later worked on witnessing for voter rights with King in Selma. Soon after, he organized and led the Metro Denver Fair Housing Center. Later, in helping create the New Town of The Woodlands in Texas, a HUD Title 10 New Community near Houston, Lapp developed New Town’s governance, schools, municipal services and health care facilities.

After returning to Colorado, Lapp mentored the creation of businesses that provided equal employment opportunities for women. In his mid-60s, Lapp co-organized and is still an active leader of Archway Housing and Services, Inc., a Colorado faith-based nonprofit partner of the UCC’s Rocky Mountain Conference. Archway builds low-income housing and provides social assistance for marginalized community members. Archway has completed and operates 11 multi-family projects containing 641 apartments, while its social service programs include ESL classes, employment counseling, food banks, after-school tutoring and activity programming for children. Along the way, Lapp also has been a UCC denominational leader.

Lapp has learned over a lifetime that there is an unseen, life-creating force that calls all people to engage in making life work for everyone, regardless of the cost, the doing of which gives one courage and spiritual strength.

The Rev. Robinson Lapp will be honored at our Weekly Wednesday Reflections on May 5 at 12pm CT. All are welcome to attend at this Zoom link.

Lapp recently published the story of his faith journey, “Listening for the Holy: A Life Journey.” Find a copy here.

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