Local pastor named 'Church Leader of the Year'

DOWNEY - Dr. Dennis Short, interim pastor at Downey Memorial Christian Church, will be honored as "Church Leader of the Year" at Chapman University in Orange on Sunday.Short grew up in San Dimas, where his family was active in the First Christian Church. During his senior year in High School, the family moved their membership to the First Christian Church in Pomona, California. In 1959, he graduated from Bonita High School, located in LaVerne, California, and that fall he entered Chapman College with an athletic scholarship that paid one-half his tuition. He met Linda Hanson at a gathering in the Orange First Christian Church sanctuary on the first day of her freshman year in 1961. They were married the following June 10, 1962. They have two sons, Mark and Steve Short (both Chapman grads), two daughters-in-law and five grandchildren. Short graduated from Chapman in 1964 and entered Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis, Indiana, where he received his M. Div. in 1968. Called to be a half-time Associate Pastor of the Pacific Southwest Regional Church as Minister of Urban Life and Director of the Reconciliation Program in the summer of 1968, Short also served as half-time Associate Minister of United Christian Church in Los Angeles. In 1969, he became a full-time member of the Pacific Southwest Regional Church Staff. Chapman College called Short to be Chaplain/Campus Minister in 1975. In the late 1970's he was one of the founders of the Peace Studies Program. Dennis earned his M.A. in Counseling Psychology in 1985. During his tenure at Chapman, Dennis always had a staff of two to seven student assistants. Over 20 of those students have gone into the ministry. He served as pastor to campus administration, faculty, staff and students until 1991, and upon his retirement from Chapman, the faculty voted to give him an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters. Short remains active in regional concerns including the Social Concerns Committee and the Pro-Reconciliation Anti-Racism Committee of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Denomination. He has served as chair or co-chair of each of these important regional committees. Short has also served as Interim Minister for the Garden Grove First Christian Church, the Community Church Congregational (United Church of Christ) in Corona del Mar, California, and a 15-year pastorate at Harbor Christian Church in Newport Beach, California. In December 2010, he completed a four-year term as Moderator of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the Pacific Southwest Region. He is currently the Interim Transitional Minister at Downey Memorial Christian Church. Throughout his life, Dennis has "walked the walk" as well as "talked the talk." During his freshman year at Chapman, he picketed the Woolworth store in Santa Ana that would not serve African Americans. In 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke at Chapman College, and Short had the honor of driving Dr. King to the Los Angeles airport. In 1965, Short joined fellow students, faculty and National Disciple Peace Fellowship members on a bus from Indianapolis to Montgomery, Alabama, where they joined Dr. King for the last five miles of the march he lead from Selma, Alabama to the courthouse steps in Montgomery. Short and his long-time friend, Rev. Larry Hixon, created the Regional Unity Walk in 1970. The first walk was from Eastmont Community Center in East Los Angeles to Santa Monica State Beach. One of the later walk routes was from Chapman College to Corona del Mar Beach. Over the last 30 years, the Unity Walk has raised around $500,000 for All Peoples Center and Eastmont Community Center. Later in the '70s Short helped organize the Orange Crop Walk which continued for several years. In 1983, Short and seven others knelt in front of a bus carrying nuclear-weapons-dealers from a South Coast Plaza Hotel to an Arms Bazaar at the Anaheim Convention Center across from Disneyland. In the late 1980's he helped organize a group of 50 Chapman students and staff who participated in one of the largest anti-nuclear demonstrations in U.S. history, and more than 500 individuals who committed civil disobedience were arrested. After his call to the Community Church in Corona del Mar in 1993, Short joined the coordinating committee of the Newport Beach Hunger Walk, and continued to be an active participant until 2010. He has also been committed to Interfaith activities for years. He co-founded the Orange County Interfaith Peace Ministry in 1980, and currently serves as its president. He has been an active member of the Newport Mesa Irvine Interfaith Council for 18 years, and served as president for six of those years.

********** Published: March 17, 2011 - Volume 9 - Issue 48