The Gift of Black Theological Education captured the collective and collaborative vision that resulted from close to six years of conversations, consultations, gatherings, and partnership involving six schools over the first four years and five the entire six years.
The Gift of Black Theological Education in the “creative life of faith, worship, and practice in the Black context” offers a renewed theological vision responsive to the challenges facing congregations, seminaries, and communities which has become even more dire during the 2020 pandemic. This became an opportune time in both the landscape of theological education and the Black Church to examine and seek to better understand the complex and evolving relationship between Black Church and Black Theological Education.
The Black Church has been the community resource for cultural, political, and social awareness, educational inspiration, leadership development, and ethical formation, as well as a pathway for students to theological education; over the past several decades it has declined in its position as a place for addressing the needs of its unique congregations, due in part because of a lack of competences required to empower those in the pews.
In the two previous initiatives, the Lilly Endowment has supported Black Theological Schools in building capacity in governance, fundraising, enhanced leadership development, and institutional sustainability. The leaders in the Historically Black Theological Schools are positioned to realign their work in collaboration with the Black Church to achieve a common agenda of transformation. The work conducted in these past two grants has served to create a strong learning community among these five seminaries. The executive leaders have successfully built relationships among themselves, strengthened governance of their schools, engaged faculty in shared governance, and deepened relationships with the founding Churches. With their distinctive missions and unique approaches to theological education aligned in their commitment to the Church, these schools are uniquely prepared to build capacity toward transformation. Relationships between the Church and Academy reach upward of 11,000 American congregations and extend beyond to those in Bermuda and Africa.
The Gift of Black Theological Education & Black Church Collaborative is designed as an innovative learning experience purposed to transform the Black experience by exploring and seeking resolutions through a theological lens to address systemic inequality in the public square. The development of this collaborative will be subjected to pivots and changes across initiation and implementation.
The Black Church was founded out of systemic racism. Black people are still suspicious of work driven by predominantly white institutions and leaders. Therefore, the scope of the learning process will be broadly designed and created with an understanding of root causes of the Black experience and the designs of systems including worship, educational and theological delivery, and community engagement that have influenced that experience. The collaborative will target those who have been historically marginalized focusing on the “least of these.” The learning process will lead to the development of content for curriculum and programming with an aim to bring transformative outcomes into Christian spaces.
Dr. Vergel Lattimore, President
Dr. Sharon Grant, Faculty Representative
Bishop Darryl B. Stames, Sr., Denominational Representative (A.M.E. Zion)
Rev. Paula McCullough, Presidential Fellow
Ms. Patricia Commander, Presidential Fellow
Rev. Matthew Wesley Williams, President
Rev. Dr. Willie Godman, Faculty Representative
Rev. Hodari S. Williams, Sr., Denominational Representative (PCUSA)
Bishop Teresa Jefferson-Snorton, Chair of the Board of Trustees
Dr. Cathryn Stout, Presidential Fellow
Rev. Dr. Michael Brown, President
Rev. Dr. Betty Holley, Faculty Representative
Bishop Gregory G.M. Ingram, Chair of the Board of Trustees
John Thomas, III, Presidential Fellow
Dr. Gregory Howard, Dean
Rev. Dr. Patricia Gould-Champ, Faculty Representative
Rev. Dr. Leo Whitaker, Sr., Chair of the Advisors Council
Mr. Jamar Boyd, Presidential Fellow
Dr. Johnny Hill, Dean
Dr. Annie Tinsley, Faculty Representative
Dr. Nilous Avery, Sr., Denominational Representative
Rev. Prince Rivers, Chair of the Board of Visitors
Dr. Yuri Yamamoto, Presidential Fellow
Ms. Kathlene Judd, Presidential Fellow