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One-of-a-Kind PhD Program Welcomes New Students

Christian Theological Seminary (CTS) announces members of the second cohort of students for the Ph.D. in African American Preaching and Sacred Rhetoric program. Alongside the members of the first cohort of this unique doctoral program, these twelve new scholar-practitioners will ignite a preaching renaissance to revive Christianity in America in the 21st century.

The diverse 2nd cohort includes Jennifer Carner (Decatur, GA), Eugene Gibson (Memphis, TN), Lisa Goods (Chicago, IL), Stephen A. Green (Roselle, NJ), Moya M. Harris (Washington, DC), Frederick Haynes (Dallas, TX), Eric Jackson (Manchester, NH), Jeffrey A. Johnson, II (Indianapolis, IN), Larry J. Morris III (Henderson, NV), Dominique Robinson (Smyrna, GA), Reginald Sharpe (Decatur, GA), and Farrell Bruce Williams (Louisville, KY). These twelve represent the vocational diversity and scholarly promise of the church in general and the Black church in particular.

This diversity is represented in students like registered nurse Moya Harris who reflects upon her call to doctoral work this way: “My soul says that I am called to do research in the area of hip hop, preaching, and rhetoric, specifically dealing with Black women in the public sector.” In reflecting upon his work, Frederick Haynes is interested in examining those rhetorical models that resonate with, as he puts it, “an Instagram and Snapchat generation,” alongside the roots of the Black Preaching tradition and its connection to Mother Africa. Finally, Dominique Robinson, a millennial Christian leader, hopes to explore questions around how congregations receive the preacher who preaches from a wheelchair, stutters, or needs a sign-language interpreter, how Black preachers come to terms with “invisible” and visible disabilities, failing health, and aging, and how differently-abled preachers approach the sacred text in exegesis and performance.

“The cohort is by far the best part of this PhD journey and experience. The encouragement and accountability of the cohort is part of what drives me to do well.” – Rev. Dr. Howard-John Wesley, member of cohort 1 and Pastor of Alfred Street Baptist Church (Alexandria, VA)

As the 2nd cohort begins its doctoral journey, its members will benefit from the experiences of the 1st cohort. Members of the 1st cohort (now preparing to sit for comprehensive exams) have taken seriously one of the core values of the program: an unparalleled culture of generosity. To that end, members of the 1st cohort have funded two scholarships to support members of the second cohort.

“The concept of the “practitioner-scholar” is key to the program. …. Graduates will be equipped to engage in scholarship from the perspective of their location in ministry, applying PhD-level research and analysis to the issues and possibilities that emerge in practice.” – Dr. Frank A. Thomas, Program Director

This Ph.D. in African American Preaching and Sacred Rhetoric program would not be possible without the visionary leadership and foresight of Rev. Dr. Frank A. Thomas. A renowned homiletician and published author, Thomas served with distinction as the senior pastor for two remarkable congregations (New Faith Baptist Church in Matteson, IL and Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church in Memphis, TN) before joining the seminary. Dr. Kimberly D. Russaw recently joined the team as the interim associate director. Russaw earned the Ph.D. in Religion (Hebrew Bible and Ancient Israel with a minor in Black Religion and Culture Studies) from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN, and comes to theological education after an impressive career in team management and consumer marketing at corporations such as The Ford Motor Company, Nabisco, Inc., and The Coca-Cola Company. The team also includes the expertise of Aimée Laramore, MBA, who works as the philanthropic strategist for the program. A national speaker, facilitator and trainer in capacity building, Laramore nurtures a core value of generosity at the intersection of culture, faith and giving. Under her leadership the PhD Program has fostered phenomenal donors, supporters, congregations, and leaders for the program resulting in a commitment to no life altering debt. Additionally, beginning fall 2019, Rev. Courtney Buggs, will join Thomas in the classroom as the visiting professor of homiletics. A Ph.D. candidate at Emory University (Atlanta, GA), Buggs is a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Air Force and has taught at the college and university levels before joining CTS. Finally, the Ph.D. team benefits from the administrative support of Alilah Williams.

Find more information about the program here.