Cross-Cultural, Urban, Reformed, Ecumenical

Rev. Dr. Sharon Ellis Davis Named Alumna of the Year


The first African American woman police officer to be appointed a chaplain by the Chicago Police Department, Dr. Ellis Davis was also the first African American woman to receive both an MDiv and a PhD from Chicago Theological Seminary.

Author, pastor emeritus of God Can Ministries, and a former chaplain for the Chicago Police Department, Rev. Dr. Sharon Ellis Davis (DMin ’95) has been named McCormick's 2019 Alumna of the Year.

A vigilant advocate for those who have experienced sexual and domestic violence, Rev. Ellis Davis used her ministry project at McCormick to develop a faith-based Domestic Violence Ministry at Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ. She provided training to support victims of sexual and domestic violence, advocacy through pastoral care training, and conducted faith-based support groups for survivors. Her model was later used to help the Chicago Police Department and congregations throughout the United Church of Christ denomination develop and sustain programs to support victims of sexual and domestic violence.

Rev. Ellis Davis has served on the pastoral staff of several churches including Chicago’s People’s Church and South Shore Community Church. A member of McCormick’s adjunct faculty, her course offerings have included Sexual and Domestic Violence, Pastoral Care in the African American Community, Pastoral Care in Times of Crisis, Peacemaking in the Beloved Community, and Mass Incarceration and the Criminal Justice System. From 2010 to 2014, she served McCormick as Director of African American Ministries and Black Church Studies, providing lecture and workshop series to develop cross-cultural opportunities for student engagement and support for students of color.

A board-certified chaplain with the Association of Professional Chaplains, Rev. Ellis Davis is a member of the faith-based training team of Faith Trust Institute, providing domestic violence response training and healthy boundaries training to clergy across the country. Rev. Ellis Davis was part of the "Scholars in Action Design Team," an initiative of The President Jimmy Carter Center in Atlanta that worked toward developing a comprehensive and global approach to addressing violence against women. A criminalist in the Chicago Police Department's crime laboratory, Rev. Dr. Ellis Davis has testified in court as an expert witness. She is a nationally and internationally recognized speaker on sexual and domestic violence, especially as it intersects with race, class, gender, culture, and the criminal justice system.

In 2000, Rev. Ellis Davis founded God Can Ministries in Ford Heights, Ill. It has become known for its call to serve those who have experienced domestic violence as well as the LGBTQ community. Two years into this ministry, the Dr. Sharon L. Ellis Education and Family Life Institute was established as the church’s educational outreach ministry. The not-for-profit organization provides GED education, literacy training, health fairs, back-to-school fairs, and other educational opportunities that empower individuals and families toward making a positive contribution to their families, communities, and society.

Rev. Ellis Davis’ work, African American Battered Women: A Study of Gender Entrapment, was published in 2014 and builds awareness for the opportunities available within the African American church to address and thwart domestic violence.

Rev. Ellis Davis is married to Rev. Dr. Edward Smith Davis, conference minister of the Southern Conference for United Church of Christ. They have six children and 14 grandchildren.