The 2020-2021 academic year marks the 30th anniversary of Candler’s Black Church Studies Program (BCS). A slate of public events throughout the year carries the theme “Celebrating the Black Church Tradition of Sankofa: Looking Back, Moving Forward,” and honors the program’s ongoing impact and legacy. All events are free and will be held online.

Associate Professor in the Practice of Sociology of Religion and Culture and Director of Black Church Studies Nichole R. Phillips notes that the original intent of Black Church Studies at Candler was to provide an inclusive, faithful, and scholarly certificate program to educate future religious leaders about the origins, development and diversity of the institutional Black church in America, and to instruct them about both Christian and nontraditional religious experiences of African American and Afro-Diasporic groups.

“Over 30 years, our program has continued to be committed to these initial goals,” Phillips says. “These fall events pay homage to the strength and history of Black church tradition in two ways: by embracing inclusivity through discussions about Christian practices amongst African American and Afro-Diasporic peoples, and by pressing the question, ‘What is Black church in America?’ It’s the question that will be at the forefront of these conversations on contemporary subjects and issues with leading religious leaders and academics.” 

The year began with the program’s annual Anna Julia Cooper Lecture on September 17, presented by Emilie Townes, Dean and Distinguished Professor of Womanist Ethics and Society at Vanderbilt Divinity School. Watch the video of the lecture here.

A listing of upcoming events and registration information is below.

Black Church Studies Worship
October 8, 11:30 a.m.

This service celebrates 30 years of Black Church Studies at Candler. Robert M. Franklin, Jr., James T. and Berta R. Laney Professor in Moral Leadership, will preach. Watch live on Facebook, YouTube, or the Candler website.

Panel Discussion: “The Black Church Tradition in the Americas: International Perspectives”
October 21, 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
Register here.

Moderated by Charles Howard Candler Professor of Pastoral Theology and Spiritual Care Emmanuel Lartey, the panel will feature Jehu Hanciles, D.W. and Ruth Brooks Associate Professor of World Christianity at Candler; Carol Duncan, professor of religion and culture at Wilfrid Laurier University; Musa Dube, professor of New Testament at the University of Botswana and incoming professor of New Testament at Candler; and Maureen Miller 13T, senior pastor of Oasis International Worship Center and founding dean of Yarah School of Leadership and Ministry.

Panel Discussion: “Megachurches in the Black Church Tradition”
November 5, 6:00-8:00 p.m.
Register here.

Moderated by by Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Religion and Culture Marla F. Frederick, the panel will feature E. Dewey Smith, senior pastor of The House of Hope Atlanta and The House of Hope Macon; Kevin Murriel 11T, senior pastor of Cascade United Methodist Church and assistant professor in the practice of practical theology and Black Methodist Seminarians program director at Candler; Jacqueline Thompson, senior pastor of Allen Temple Baptist Church in Oakland, California; Sandra Barnes, professor of sociology at Vanderbilt Divinity School and Vanderbilt University; and Patrick Clayborn 01T 02T, senior pastor of Bethel AME Church in Baltimore, Maryland.

Howard Thurman Lecture: “A Homiletical Sankofa: The Spirituals and the Future of Ministry”
November 12, 6:00-8:00 p.m.
Register here. 

This year’s distinguished guest speaker for the annual Howard Thurman Lecture will be the Rev. Dr. Luke Powery, dean of Duke University Chapel and associate professor of homiletics at Duke Divinity School, for the annual Howard Thurman Lecture. Read more.