Nichole Phillips

Nichole R. Phillips

Associate Professor in the Practice of Religion and Society; Director of the Black Church Studies Program


PhD, Vanderbilt University 2012
MA, Vanderbilt University, 2009
MDiv, Harvard University, 1999
BA, Wellesley College, 1993


(404) 727-4001


In addition to her role at Candler, The Rev. Dr. Nichole R. Phillips is associate faculty in the Department of Sociology at Emory College of Arts and Sciences, and a senior faculty fellow at the Emory Center for Ethics. A sociologist of religion and public theologian, she teaches courses in community and congregational studies.

Her research interests lie at the intersection of religion and American public life with a focus on community and congregational studies where she investigates the moral commitments and vision of community and congregational members. Her scholarship treats religion, critical race, gender, and cultural memory studies. She is also developing new research interests in the sociology of science and religion.

Her first monograph, Patriotism Black and White: The Color of American Exceptionalism (Baylor, 2018), is a study of Black and white evangelicals in a rural southern community and their shifting interpretations of American national identity and U.S. exceptionalism with the election of Barack H. Obama as America’s first president of African descent and at the height of wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Patriotism Black and White was on The Christian Century’s Best Sellers List in 2019.

Along with her numerous roles serving on Emory committees and boards, Phillips is a member of several professional societies and community organizations and is consistently asked to speak on issues of relevance to American society in the areas of religion, culture, politics, and public life.

Phillips is actively involved with the Council on Foreign Relations Religion and Foreign Policy Initiative, the American Academy of Religion, the Oxford Institute of Methodist Theological Studies, and is a member of the American Sociological Association, Association for the Sociology of Religion, and the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion. Outside the academy, she has held positions with The Hotchkiss School Board of Governors and presently with the United Way of Greater Atlanta.

A recipient of numerous recognitions, honors, and awards, Phillips was initiated into The Society for the Study of Black Religion in Spring 2018. In 2019, she was inducted into the Martin Luther King, Jr. International College of Ministers and Laity, and as a member of the Collegium of Scholars at Morehouse College. She has also received the Teresa L. Fry Brown Faculty Award from the Black Student Caucus and Candler School of Theology’s “On Eagles Wings” Excellence in Teaching Award. Phillips is the inaugural recipient of the 2019 Provost’s Distinguished Teaching Award for Excellence in Professional and Graduate Education at Emory University.

Phillips is an ordained itinerant elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) and has served on ministerial staffs in New England and the South.


Patriotism Black and White: The Color of American Exceptionalism Baylor, 2018


“Rituals of Commemoration: Sites for cultural memories as traumatic silences and memorial cries for social change,” in Judaism, Race, and Ethics, Penn State University Press, 2020

“Book Review: Prophets and Patriots: Faith in Democracy Across the Political Divide,” in American Journal of Sociology 125, no. 1, July 2019

“A ‘Spirituality of Improvisation’: Martin Luther King, Jr.’s ‘I Have a Dream’ in Rearticulating American National Identity.” In Revives My Soul Again: The Spirituality of Martin Luther King, Jr. Fortress Press, 2018

“Qualitative Research at Emory: Ethnographic Insights and Notes from the Field.” In Pedagogy in Practice: Qualitative Research and Theological Education. SCM Press, 2018

“The Church, #BlackLivesMatter, and #SayHerName Racial Justice and Social Movements: Towards Reaching Common Ground.” The AME Church Review, CCXII, no. 4, AME Church, October 01, 2016

“Death Unto Life: The Power of the Incarnation.” Pastoral Psychology, vol. 60, issue 3, Springer US, March 01, 2011

“Black Faith, Bodies, Mother Mortality and COVID-19: A Response to Religion, Science and Medicine,” a sociology of science and religion research project funded by The Templeton Religion Trust and coordinated by the Issachur Fund in partnership with Rice University and the University of California, San Diego, 2020-2023

The Christian Century Best Sellers List for Patriotism Black and White: The Color of American Exceptionalism, 2019

Provost’s Distinguished Teaching Award for Excellence in Graduate and Professional Education, Emory University, 2019

“On Eagles Wings” Excellence in Teaching, Candler School of Theology, 2019

Inducted into the Martin Luther King, Jr. International College of Ministers and Laity, Morehouse College, 2019

Teresa L. Fry Brown Faculty Award, Black Student Caucus, 2019

Senior Faculty Fellow, Center for Ethics, Emory University

Emory University Center for Faculty Development and Excellence, Scholarly Writing and Publishing (SWAP) Grant, 2016

Alum of the Month, The Hotchkiss School, 2014

Mellon Foundation Humanistic Inquiry Program (HIP) Fellow, Candler School of Theology, 2013-present

Postdoctoral Fellowship in Practical Theology and Religious Practices, Candler School of Theology, 2012-2013

Group for New Directions in Pastoral Theology, 2010

Dissertation Fellowship, Southern Regional Education Board (SREB), 2010-2011

Ford Foundation Diversity Fellowships Honorable Mention List, 2010-2011

Center for Community Studies Grant, Peabody College, Vanderbilt University, 2008-2009

Dissertation Fellowship, Fund for Theological Education, 2008-2009

African American Religion and Culture

Ethnographic Research for Ministry in Congregations and Communities

Gender, Race, Religion and Nation

Genocide, Redeeming Cultural Memories & Christian Social Witness

Introduction to Black Church Studies (anticipated)

Priestly and Prophetic: The Nature of Ritual Performance

In the media

November 3, 2021

Left leaning church leaders push for Biden's legislative agenda

April 8, 2021

Is America losing her civil religion?

April 2, 2021

Sen. Raphael Warnock’s deleted Easter tweet reflects religious and political chasms about Christianity

April 2, 2021

Georgia rapper Lil Nas X song, video speak to larger issue of acceptance in religion, church

March 23, 2021

Amanda Gorman’s “City on a Hill”

December 30, 2020

Senate race puts Ebenezer, Black church traditions in spotlight

November 16, 2020

‘A Full-Court Press’: How Detroit's Black Pastors Helped Protect the Vote

October 7, 2020

"Let America Be America Again": Nichole Phillips

June 2, 2020

Trump's visit to a Washington church sparks outrage

December 11, 2019

‘I feel so distant from God’: Popular D.C.-area pastor confesses he’s tired, announces sabbatical

September 18, 2019

Closer Look: Atlanta Businessman Carl Ware Shares His Life Story in A New Memoir; Local Faith Leaders Discuss Connection Between Obesity & Black Faith Community

May 20, 2018

A Seat at the Table: Black Christianity and Spirituality

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