The Mission of the PhD Program

The PhD program in African American Preaching and Sacred Rhetoric aims to develop scholars with a critical awareness of the history of African American preaching and other forms of sacred rhetoric in the United States. PhD candidates study the theologies informing this history and practice, as well as the signature skills involved in the practice of African American preaching and sacred rhetoric. Though shaped by African American cultural values, the program works in concert with patterns of scholarship that bring African American traditions into dialogue with European American and other approaches.

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Core Values of the PhD Program

  • Unparalleled culture of generosity
  • Commitment to exceed expectations
  • Highest levels of academic rigor
  • Working to the glory of God
  • Desire to generate a preaching renaissance
  • Scholarship to meet the needs of the community
  • Innovative study in African American preaching
  • Avoidance of life-altering debt

The Key Concept: The Practitioner-Scholar

The concept of the “practitioner-scholar” is key to the PhD program in African American Preaching and Sacred Rhetoric. That is, this program is not geared exclusively or even primarily toward producing tenure-track, full-time professors. Rather, it is geared toward producing practitioner-scholars deeply connected to the church and also to the academy. Practitioner-scholars engage in scholarship from the perspective of their location in ministry. For them, practice often suggests issues and possibilities that deserve PhD-level research and analysis.

"For years and years African American preaching was stereotypically considered ignorance, buffoonery, and emotionalism. I believe the history, beauty, depth, power, and sheer genius of black preaching can generate a preaching renaissance to revive American Christianity in the 21st century."

- Rev. Dr. Frank A. Thomas

PhD Affiliate Faculty

Rev. Dr. Teresa L. Fry Brown
Bandy Professor of Preaching
Rev. Dr. Courtney Buggs headshot
Courtney Buggs
Assistant Professor of Homiletics, Director of the PhD in African American Preaching and Sacred Rhetoric Program
Rev. Dr. Charlie Edward Dates
Senior Pastor
Rev. Dr. Frederick Douglass Haynes, III
Senior pastor of Friendship-West Baptist Church
Rev. Dr. Otis Moss, Jr.
Theologian, pastor and civic leader
Rev. Dr. Brianna K. Parker
Curator and founder of the Black Millennial Café
Frank A. Thomas headshot
Frank A. Thomas
Nettie Sweeney and Hugh Th. Miller Professor of Homiletics, Director of the Compelling Preaching Initiative

Compelling Preaching Initiative

Christian Theological Seminary’s Compelling Preaching Initiative is an 18-month certificate program for Exemplar preachers to engage in a cohort model as they learn about the theology and pedagogy of teaching and preaching while further developing their own preaching method. The certificate program includes a mentorship component in which the Exemplars will mentor and coach aspiring preachers called Apprentices.

Mixed Methods Preaching Conference

The annual Mixed Methods Preaching Conference helps preachers love and improve their preaching. We offer sermons, lectures, education, homiletical instruction, and preaching labs where participants are taught method by our PhD students, write and preach a sermon in front of fellow participants and instructors trained in homiletics, and then receive immediate feedback and critique. We have found the preaching and critiquing of the sermons, after instruction on the homiletical method, to be the most meaningful way to improve preaching.

Transformative Grant 2021

CTS has been selected as a Transformation Grant recipient in a new phase of funding from the Gilead COMPASS Initiative®. The $100,000 grant will support the Mixed Methods Preaching Conference, presented by the Seminary’s PhD in African American Preaching and Sacred Rhetoric program. Planned for Spring 2022, the conference will address how densely-layered topics, such as HIV-AIDS, can be understood through preaching and scholarship integrating narrative, traditions of hospitality and community connectivity.

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PhD Program News

Alumni StoriesFacultyNewsPhD ProgramStudent LifeTheology
April 2, 2024

CTS Community Gathers at Samuel DeWitt Procter Conference

CTS attends Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference 2024   This year marks the 21st year of the convening of the Samuel…
CTS HistoryNewsPhD ProgramStudent Life
February 6, 2024

PhD Student Gina Stewart Makes Preaching History

PhD Student Gina Stewart Makes Preaching History   Rev. Dr. Gina Stewart,  Senior Pastor of Christ Missionary Baptist Church in…
Composite image of preachers featured in Season 2 of the African American Legacy Preaching SeriesNewsPhD Program
October 31, 2023

Legacy Preaching Series Announces New Season

The African American Legacy Preaching Series Launches New Season   In the realm of religious discourse, African American preaching stands…

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