One of America’s most renowned pastors, scholars and thought leaders on preaching and worship has been appointed to the CTS faculty and will lead a new institute at CTS. Dr. Frank A. Thomas will lead the institute, itself part of the seminary’s new Center for Pastoral Excellence. He will also become the Nettie Sweeney and Hugh Th. Miller Professor of Homiletics.
Dr. Thomas joins Christian Theological Seminary from Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Memphis, Tenn. where he served as senior pastor for more than a decade. After 31 years of preaching, Dr. Thomas said he now feels called to help prepare the next generation of preachers and leaders. “At the heart of Christian preaching and worship is the rhetorical work of helping to bring the Gospel alive,” he said. “Christian communities that thrive into the future will do so, in part, because they are blessed with excellent, well-trained preachers. I am delighted to join CTS in this important work.”
According to Christian Theological Seminary President Dr. Matthew Myer Boulton, the institute will focus on preaching, worship, and sacred rhetoric. “Preaching and worship are the events through which most Christians experience and explore their faith,” Boulton said. “And in particular, African American traditions of Christian preaching and worship have made extraordinary, iconic contributions to American life. Dr. Thomas’ background and expertise will help root the institute’s work in that vibrant legacy, even as he helps us reach out to a wide range of other cultural traditions and constituencies.”
Boulton added that Dr. Thomas’ experience connecting church work with community development complements the seminary’s emphasis on promoting social justice. “We are preparing pastors who can go out and serve in ways that are attuned to the pressing issues of the day. Frank’s leadership in connecting congregations to the broader community is inspiring and challenging as we launch this new effort,” Boulton said.
In addition to his background in pastoral ministry, Dr. Thomas brings a distinguished scholarly record to CTS. He holds a PhD from the University of Memphis and Doctor of Ministry degrees from both Chicago Theological Seminary and United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio. He has taught at both McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago and Memphis Theological Seminary.
His books include the classic, They Like to Never Quit Praisin’ God: The Role of Celebration in Preaching (Pilgrim Press, 1997) and Spiritual Maturity: Preserving Congregational Health and Balance (Fortress Press, 2002). He is the co-editor of Preaching with Sacred Fire: An Anthology of African American Sermons (W.W. Norton, 2010), the Norton anthology of African American preaching.