Obery M. Hendricks, Jr., who has been called one of the most provocative and innovative commentators on the intersection of religion, politics and social policy in America today, is Candler’s 2015 Sankofa Scholar in Black Church Studies. He is teaching an intensive weeklong course called “The Politics of Jesus” during the school’s January term.

The course is based on Hendricks’ 2007 book, The Politics of Jesus: Rediscovering the True Revolutionary Nature of Jesus' Teachings and How They Have Been Corrupted, and explores Jesus’ advocacy of systemic change in his gospel pronouncements.

A child of segregation, Hendricks was a successful Wall Street investment executive before he found his “true calling.” He enrolled at Princeton Theological Seminary, where he earned a master of divinity, and then went on to earn a doctorate in religion at Princeton University. He later became president of Payne Theological Seminary in Ohio, one of the oldest African American seminaries in the nation. An ordained elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, he is emeritus professor of biblical interpretation at New York Theological Seminary and a current visiting scholar at Columbia University. A widely sought lecturer and media spokesperson, Hendricks has appeared on C-SPAN, PBS, National Public Radio, al-Jazeera Television, Fox News, and the Bloomberg Network, among others.

The Sankofa Scholar program at Candler was established in January 2014, the brainchild of professor of homiletics and director of Black Church Studies Teresa L. Fry Brown, who says the idea was born out of her own experience teaching intensive short-term courses at other institutions.

“I realized such a series would broaden student perspectives on Black religiosity, affirm the viability of their cultural imperatives and perhaps instill a thirst to further study Black religions,” she says.

The series’ name originates from a West African language and underscores the wisdom of learning from distinguished scholars and practitioners of the Black church and community.

 “Sankofa is an Akan word meaning we must go back to our roots in order to move forward, to gather the best of what our past has to teach us, so that we can achieve our full potential as we move forward,” Fry Brown explains.

Hendricks is Candler’s second distinguished visiting professor to serve as a Sankofa Scholar. Katie Geneva Cannon, the first African American woman ordained in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and Annie Scales Rogers Professor of Christian Ethics at Union Presbyterian Seminary, was the inaugural Sankofa Scholar.