Student Spotlight: Pastor Notoshia D. Howard (DMin)
In our ongoing series highlighting the remarkable students of the CTS community, we turn our focus to Notoshia D. Howard, a dedicated student pursuing her Doctor of Ministry (DMin) degree. The DMin program at CTS stands as a testament to the institution’s commitment to providing transformative and advanced education for experienced ministers and leaders. Going beyond traditional academic boundaries, the program delves into the rich intersection of theology and practical ministry. Notoshia, set to graduate in May 2024, brings her passion for ministry to the forefront as she explores the intricate dynamics that shape the role of Black women in the pastoral ministry of the National Baptist Convention through her culminating project.
“I always knew God was calling me to lead and serve,” says Howard, “but I was a part of the National Baptist Convention USA, Inc., and at the time they did not support women clergy. They certainly did not accept women in pastoral leadership. In that denomination, preaching, ordained leadership, and pastoral leadership are all different ministries, hold a different level of authority, and come with a different ministry assignment. There are 42 congregations in the Union District Association of the National Baptist Convention, USA Inc., in Indianapolis, Indiana. Out of those 42, there is only one female pastor. So, support was something that lacked as a female preacher during that time when I accepted my call to the preaching ministry. My husband, who is also a pastor, was and still is, to this day, my biggest supporter. The barriers that I faced were not something I carried alone; he was right there with me, as male pastors cornered and questioned him.”
Notoshia’ s journey is one marked by a deep commitment to her faith and a fervent dedication to community leadership. Holding several previous degrees, including a Master of Arts in Ministry and a Master of Practical Theology, Notoshia has seamlessly integrated her academic pursuits with her pastoral responsibilities and community chaplaincy. She serves as the founding pastor of the Rock Christian Church in Brownsburg, Indiana, a community she initiated just a day before undergoing surgery. Celebrating its first anniversary in November 2023, the Rock Christian Church, under Notoshia’ s pastoral leadership, has flourished, embodying a vision centered on community, worship, and shared growth.
Apart from her role at the Rock Christian Church, Notoshia continues her impactful work as a Staff Chaplain at IU Health, where she collaborates with fellow CTS alumni and students within the Congregational Care Network. Her seven years at IU Health, coupled with her clinical pastoral education, have equipped her with a unique perspective on the intersection of spiritual care and healthcare.
Notoshia’s decision to pursue a DMin at CTS is rooted in her lifelong commitment to learning and her profound love for preaching, teaching, and serving. Choosing CTS was deliberate for Notoshia, recognizing that the seminary not only refrains from dictating beliefs but, more importantly, teaches students how to articulate and defend their own beliefs. “I wanted to make sure that I continue to sharpen my iron and to have the skills to be able to minister and serve people in the church, in the community, and in the hospital. I sought to answer some core questions. Why are black-ordained female clergy not treated the same as black male clergy when it comes to the pathway for pastoral leadership? What are the barriers that may limit ordained women from becoming the senior pastor?” shares Howard. Her research focus is on gender equity within the National Baptist Convention in Indianapolis, aiming to explore and dismantle the barriers that limit ordained Black women from taking on senior pastoral roles.
Howard’s experiences at CTS have significantly influenced her work at the Rock Christian Church. The tools, models, and ideologies provided by CTS have not only enhanced her preaching and teaching but have also equipped her with the skills to serve her congregation and community effectively. Notoshia expresses gratitude for the lasting relationships she has built at CTS, highlighting the mentorship of Rev. Dr. Courtney Buggs, her project advisor.
For those considering the DMin program at CTS, Notoshia offers enthusiastic encouragement. She emphasizes that CTS doesn’t dictate beliefs but aids in understanding how to articulate them and put them into action. While acknowledging the challenges of a rigorous doctoral program, she firmly believes that the hard work invested will yield significant rewards.
As Notoshia looks to the future, she envisions herself using her research and the knowledge gained at CTS to contribute to the transformation of the world. For her, black preaching is a powerful force that can bring about positive change. By sharing the principles and methods learned at CTS, Notoshia endeavors to empower others, ensuring that the message of love and survival reaches beyond the confines of her community.
In essence, Notoshia Howard exemplifies the ethos of CTS, where formation and practice are integral threads in the tapestry that is Christian Theological Seminary. Her journey underscores the transformative impact of education and faith in shaping individuals who, in turn, contribute to the betterment of the world. As Notoshia moves toward her anticipated graduation in May 2024, her story stands as an inspiration to those serving in chaplaincy and pastoral ministry who feel called to continue to grow and amplify their community impact.