In 2016, CTS launched the world’s first PhD Program in African American Preaching and Sacred Rhetoric, welcoming its first cohort of students in January 2017. Nearly four years in, members of the program’s first two cohorts are building a library and legacy of scholarship.
The PhD program is deliberately designed for its students to forge deep connections to both the church and the academy. Many students come to the program with considerable experience in congregational ministry and community leadership. As they progress through the program, students continue to develop into scholars as well.
As a key part of their scholastic training, students sit for interdisciplinary comprehensive exams after completing their required coursework. Rev. Justin West recently became the first student in the program to pass exams. Rev. Richard Bray, Rev. Dr. Nicole McDonald, Rev. Janae Pitts-Murdock, and Rev. Larrin Robertson are currently in the process of taking theirs. Their colleagues Rev. Dr. Gina M. Stewart, Rev. Dr. Howard John Wesley, Rev. Dr. Alise Barrymore, and Rev. Watson Jones III are scheduled to begin taking their exams in January 2021.
Many of the students are now publishing original scholarship and writings pertaining to homiletics and related fields, and several students are contributing to a new collection of articles addressing ministry and preaching in a time of a pandemic. This collection includes writings by a number of students in the program, including an article by Rev. William H. Lamar IV entitled, “Can Jesus Save Our COVID-19 Preaching?” and a sermon by Rev. Dr. Nicole McDonald entitled “It’s Not Enough.” Rev. Dr. Courtney Buggs, Visiting Assistant Professor of Homiletics at CTS and the PhD program’s Assistant Director, is also contributing several articles and sermons to the collection.
Among this collection’s many rich contributions is an article by PhD student Rev. Robertson entitled, “We’re Coming Out of This! A Crisis Call for African American Preaching.” In this piece, Robertson offers an analysis of Jeremiah 29 in line with the African American preaching tradition to construct a method of hopeful, empowered preaching in times of crisis. The collection also features an article by Rev. Kimacka T. Randle, who took several of the PhD courses as an MDiv student, entitled, “COVID-19, Autism, and the Black Church: Including Families with Special Needs in Virtual Ministry.” In this article, Randle elaborates on how the circumstances of the pandemic have shed increasing light on the gaps in church ministry, particularly in regard to families with special needs, and argues that congregations ought to become more inclusive in their ministry offerings for the wellbeing of the church as a whole.
This collection of articles and sermons will be sent to those who attended the 2019 Mixed Methods Preaching Conference and supporters of the PhD Program, and it will be made available through the program and conference websites.
Beyond their own academic growth, the PhD students contribute to the experience of MDiv students at CTS as well. Starting with a partnership with (now retired) Prof. Ron Allen, the inaugural cohort had the opportunity to serve as teaching assistants as part of their preparation for the academy. With the classroom gifts of Prof. Kimberly Russaw, Prof. Andre Johnson, and Prof. Buggs, these efforts have continued as a critical part of the program. In a class currently being taught by Prof. Buggs, Rev. Dr. Frederick Haynes III, Rev. Larry J. Morris III, and Rev. Eric Jackson have worked tirelessly as dedicated teaching assistants and offered their insights and experiences in ministry, social justice work, and teaching.
Learn more about the PhD Program in African American Preaching and Sacred Rhetoric and its unique vision for developing practitioner-scholars here. Watch for future updates on its students and their field-defining work.
Also included in the November 2020 Christian Theological Seminary Connection
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- PhD Students Build a Legacy of Scholarship - In 2016, CTS launched the world’s first PhD Program in African American Preaching and Sacred Rhetoric, welcoming its first cohort of students in January 2017. Nearly four years in, members of the program’s first two cohorts are building a library and legacy of scholarship. The PhD program is deliberately designed for its students to forge […]
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