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On October 20, 2022, the PhD Program in African American Preaching and Sacred Rhetoric at Christian Theological Seminary (CTS) announced its third cohort of students. The world’s first and only academic program of its kind, the PhD Program aims to research, develop, and expose the untold treasures of the unique and indigenous American art form of African American preaching in order to ignite a preaching renaissance and revive Christianity in 21st century America. Program Director Rev. Dr. Frank A. Thomas shares, “In the creation of the PhD program, it was beyond what we could have expected or dreamed to have a third cohort. I am deeply appreciative of The CTS Leadership and Faculty to partner with us to welcome this third cohort of gifted and talented preachers and leaders to our family. We continue the dream of a preaching renaissance to revive American Christianity into the 21st century.”

The celebrated leaders selected to the third cohort include a nationally renowned author, influential pastors, a distinguished professor, and visionary storytellers. “CTS is blessed to welcome this third cohort of phenomenal scholar-practitioners into our PhD Program in African American Preaching and Sacred Rhetoric.  They bring a wealth of diverse experiences and interests that will inform their research and enliven their passions.  I look forward to formally welcoming them to the community,” shares Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty Rev. Dr. Leah Gunning Francis.

Cohort 3 members are:

  • Rev. Dr. Charity Fisher of Norfolk, VA
  • Dr. Aisha R. Lovens of Jersey City, NJ
  • Rev. Jason C. Reynolds of San Jose, CA
  • Regan E. Robinson of Hammond, IN
  • Rev. Dr. Charles Wesley Thurman, Jr. of Kansas City, MO
  • Reverend Dr. Michael W. Waters of Dallas, TX.

Current PhD student and member of Cohort 1 Rev. R Janae Pitts-Murdock emphasizes the value of the program, sharing “the unrelenting intensity of intellectual inquiry is consistently matched by the authentic collegiality of my cohort, the contagious vision of Dr. Frank A. Thomas, and the vital contribution that our research will make to entities well beyond the Church and the Academy.”

Accredited by the Association of Theological Schools in 2016, the PhD program welcomed its first two cohorts of students in 2017 and 2020. The program aims to develop practitioner-scholars connected to the church and the academy with critical awareness of the history of African American preaching and other forms of sacred rhetoric in the United States, the theologies informing this history and practice, the signature skills involved in the practice of African American preaching and sacred rhetoric, and the gifts these traditions can offer the wider, global church. Students complete their studies in a cohort experience with an initial focus on course work followed by comprehensive exams and culminating with a written dissertation.

The PhD program grew out of the visionary leadership of Rev. Dr. Frank A. Thomas, Founding Director and the Nettie Sweeney and Hugh Th. Miller Professor of Homiletics at Christian Theological Seminary with the unwavering support of the Christian Theological Seminary Faculty and Board of Trustees. Thomas serves as the Director of the program, and Rev. Dr. Courtney Buggs, Assistant Professor of Homiletics, serves as the Assistant Director. Administrative and clerical support is provided by Program Coordinator Rose Arant.

More information about the PhD program can be found by clicking here.