Nichole R. Phillips

Associate Professor in the Practice of Religion and Society; Director of the Black Church Studies Program
Nichole R. Phillips
Phone: 404.727.4001
    • PhD, Vanderbilt University 2012
    • MA, Vanderbilt University, 2009
    • MDiv, Harvard University, 1999
    • BA, Wellesley College, 1993

    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.

    Selected publications

    • Faculty Publication


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

    Chapters and Articles

    “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

    Selected awards

    “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

    Post-Doctoral 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

    Meet the Press blog, "Left leaning church leaders push for Biden's legislative agenda" (November 3, 2021)

    Deseret News, "Is America losing her civil religion?" (April 8, 2021)

    The Washington Post, "Sen. Raphael Warnock’s deleted Easter tweet reflects religious and political chasms about Christianity" (April 5, 2021)

    Savannah Morning News, "Georgia rapper Lil Nas X song, video speak to larger issue of acceptance in religion, church" (April 2, 2021)

    Religion & Politics, "Amanda Gorman's 'City on a Hill'" (March 23, 2021)

    The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "Senate race puts Ebenezer, Black church traditions in spotlight" (December 30, 2020)

    Sojourners, "'A Full Court Press': How Detroit's Black Pastors Helped Protect the Vote" (November 16, 2020)

    The Wabash Center's Dialogue On Teaching: Episode 72 - "Let America Be America Again": Nichole Phillips, October 7, 2020

    "Trump's visit to a Washington church sparks outrage" - CBS News, June 2, 2020

    "'I feel so distant from God': Popular D.C.-area pastor confesses he's tired, announces sabbatical" - The Washington Post, December 11, 2019

    "Local Faith Leaders Discuss Connection Between Obesity & Black Faith Community" - Closer Look, WABE, September 18, 2019

    "Black Christianity and Spirituality" - A Seat at the Table, Georgia Public Broadcasting, May 20, 2018

    Service of Word, Cannon Chapel, February 25, 2015

    "Redeeming Memories: From the Trauma of Collective Pasts to the Hope of Resurrection" - Candler Practical Ministries Webinars, January 29, 2015

    Selected courses

    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