Black Church Studies

The Black Church Studies Program at Louisville Seminary offers two tracks of study: a concentration in the Master of Divinity degree program or in the Master of Arts (Religion) degree program and a concentration in the Doctor of Ministry degree program.

Master of Divinity and Master of Arts (Religion) Concentration in Black Church Studies

The Black Church Studies concentration enables students enrolled in the Master of Divinity or Master of Arts (Religion) degree programs to take graduate level courses in history, theology, ethics, homiletics, Bible, pastoral care and counseling, and practical theology. Students can choose four elective courses from the Black Church Studies curriculum.

Doctor of Ministry Concentration in Black Church Studies

Full-time pastors with three years of post-MDiv experience, and experienced counselors, chaplains, denominational, and para-church officials are invited to apply for the Doctor of Ministry Degree Program at Louisville Seminary. The DMin. degree program offers tracks in Advanced Practice of Ministry, Pastoral Care and Counseling, and Black Church Studies. The new Doctor of Ministry with a Black Church Studies focus consists of four required seminars and three advanced professional (elective) seminars taken in Black Church Studies. Louisville Seminary will offer three courses that will fulfill this concentration during its January and June courses.

Program Information

Black Church Studies Courses (June 2014 edition)

BCS Faculty and Leadership

Angela Cowser
Associate Dean of Black Church Studies and Doctor of Ministry Degree Programs

Alton B. Pollard III
President and Professor of Religion and Culture

Justin Reed
Assistant Professor of Hebrew Bible and Old Testament

Ashley Hicks White
Assistant Professor of Marriage and Family Therapy

The 2019 Louisville Seminary Black Church Studies Consultation addressed challenges, resources, and other issues that affect rural ministry in the African American context. The consultation provided theological training to and establish relationships of trust with rural ministers to help them thrive.

African American ministers, statewide moderators, lay leaders, and seminary students who are either currently serving or who will be serving in a rural context attend the event.

Further research into rural ministry in the African American context is now underway. Representatives from Louisville Seminary faculty and administrators as well as seminary alums and ministers from rural congregations who attended the consultation are preparing information and further resources for the 2020 Black Church Studies Consultation, which will be held in February 2020.

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Opening Remarks and Panel Discussion

Rural Ministry in African American Contexts

Community Organizing in the Rural Context

Presented by: Rev. Dr. Angela Cowser
Associate Dean of Black Church Studies and Doctor of Ministry Programs
Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary

Lay Pastor Relationships

Presented by:
Rev. Claudette Snorton
Pastor
Greater St. James CME Church
Winchester, Kentucky

Rural Community Politics

Presented by:
Rev. Dr. W. Raymond Bryant
Presiding Elder
San Antonio District of the Southwest
Texas Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Church

The Bi-Vocational Minister

Presented by:
Rev. Dr. Kilen Gray
Dean of Student Engagement
Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary

Pastor
New Mt. Zion Church of Shelbyville Shelbyville, Kentucky

Rural Race and Gender Relations

Presented by:
Rev. Dr. W. Raymond Bryant
Presiding Elder
San Antonio District of the Southwest
Texas Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Church

Rev. Dr. Kilen Gray
Dean of Student Engagement
Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary

Pastor
New Mt. Zion Church of Shelbyville Shelbyville, Kentucky

Urban Ministry in the Rural Context

Presented by:
Rev. Dr. Amariah McIntosh
Pastor
Phillips Temple Church
Toledo, Ohio

Consultation Worship Sermon

Presented by:
Rev. Sherry Gay-Green
Pastor
St. Paul AME Church
Manchester, Kentucky

2019 BCS Consultation Lecturers

Rev. Dr. Amariah McIntosh

(Edwards Peacemaking Lecturer*)
Pastor
Phillips Temple Church, Toledo, Ohio

Over the past 37 years, Amariah McIntosh has committed her life to ministry, 27 as pastor. She has pastored CME congregations in Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio, and is currently the pastor of the Phillips Temple Church, Toledo, Ohio. She has served the denomination on all levels from the district to the connectional in various capacities. She is the director of social concerns for the Ohio-Central Indiana Region Conference, a member of the Bishop Thomas Institute to help equip younger ministers, and the coordinator of the Leadership Academy which prepares the youth of the Episcopal District for leadership.

She has always been involved in the communities in which she’s pastored. She served as president of the Youngstown Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, a board member of the Paducah NAACP, and was involved in interfaith and ecumenical circles in Kentucky and Indiana. She also served as an executive board member of the Kentucky Council of Churches and the chair of the Council’s Justice and Advocacy Commission. She was the past co-president of the Congregations Acting for Justice and Empowerment in Evansville, Indiana. Her community and ecumenical involvement garnered her the CME Church’s inaugural Linsey-Hoyt Ecumenicity Award that was presented at the 2016 Unity Summit.

A Louisville Seminary alum (MDiv, '01, DMin 14) McIntosh was the first African American to serve as the Seminary's student body president. Her work with Louisville Seminary also includes service on the Strategic Planning Committee, Alum Board, and the Presidential Search Committee. She is currently a member of the Black Church Studies Advisory Committee and the President’s Roundtable.

Rev. Dr. Kilen Gray

(Edwards Peacemaking Lecturer*)
Dean of Student Engagement
Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary

As a leader, Rev. Dr. Kilen Gray is highly regarded for his intellect, innovation, and vision. As a church pastor, he is celebrated for his unquenchable passion for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, his heart for the local church, and his transforming teaching that changes mindsets and ministries.

Gray, a Louisville Seminary alum (MDiv '02; DMin '16), served as Louisville Seminary's dean of students from 2007 to 2018. He began his service as the seminary's dean of student engagement in 2018. In this capacity, Gray leads efforts that offer seminary alums the opportunity to become more involved in the life of the seminary – from student recruitment to community and church relations.

Gray also serves as pastor of New Mt. Zion Church of Shelbyville (Kentucky), a ministry to which Gray has devoted more than 33 years of service.

Rev. Claudette Snorton

(Edwards Peacemaking Lecturer*)
Pastor
Greater St. James CME Church, Winchester, Kentucky

Claudette Snorton brings a wealth of knowledge and background in both ministry and education to our Black Church Studies Consultation. Prior to her service at Greater St. James CME, Snorton, a Louisville Seminary alum (MDiv '18), served as a pastor at Bells Chapel C.M.E. Church (Fulton, Kentucky), Phillips Chapel C.M.E. Church (Elkton, Kentucky), and Hills Chapel C.M.E. Church (Crofton, Kentucky).

Snorton served as the secretary of the Evansville-Hopkinsville District for 4 Presiding Elders, statistician for the Kentucky Region Conference of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, and currently serves as the treasurer of the Kentucky Region Conference Joint Board of Finance. She was also was 1 of 12 CMEs from across the country selected to pilot the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church’s first (CPE) Clinical Pastoral Education Program.

As an educator, Snorton taught for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati at the St. Agnes School for 7 years. For 27 years, she taught for the Christian County Public Schools at Indian Hills Elementary. She was appointed the first primary teacher on the Kentucky Writing Assessment Committee, elected the 1st African-American president of the Christian County Education Association, and elected the ethnic minority director of the Kentucky Education Association. She was also selected by the Kentucky Department of Education Professional Standards Board to serve as a member of the Kentucky Board of Examiners for the Accreditation of Kentucky’s Colleges and Universities. She retired from education in 2015.

Rev. Dr. W. Raymond Bryant

Presiding Elder
San Antonio District of the Southwest Texas Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Church

Rev. Dr. W. Raymond Bryant, Sr., has served over 30 years as a pastor in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. He was the pastor at Bethel A.M.E. Church in San Antonio, Texas, until 2017, when he was appointed as the Presiding Elder of the San Antonio District of the Southwest Texas Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

In his tenure at Bethel, he embarked on Kingdom Building with his vision of Walking with God. He encouraged daily corporate prayer in the Bethel sanctuary and conducted enlightening Bible studies to bring people closer to God in their spiritual journey. Bryant facilitated multi-sessions and seminars on the benefits of collaboration. His efforts encouraged the people of God to truly operate on one accord as one Body in Christ.

Bryant is a strong advocate for health education. In recognition of his effort to make Bethel a healthy congregation, The American Heart Association recognized Bethel as a “Fit-Friendly Worksite”, for three consecutive years (2014, 2015, 2016). Bethel was one of six churches across the United States to be recognized as such.

Bryant serves on the Board of Elders for the Sankofa Institute for African American Pastoral Leadership Development. He is very involved in theological education and works diligently to ensure the equipping and development of leaders for the various communities.

Rev. Dr. Angela Cowser

Associate Dean of Black Church Studies and Doctor of Ministry Programs
Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary

Angela Cowser began her service at Louisville Seminary in August 2018. She previously served as Director of the Center for the Church and the Black Experience and Assistant Professor of Sociology of Religion at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary (Chicago, Illinois).

She was ordained as a Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Minister of Word and Sacrament in 2006. Her publications include Radicalizing Women-Centered Organizing and Power in Post-Conflict Namibia: A Case Study of the Shack Dwellers Federation of Namibia (Saarbrucken: Scholars Press, 2013), “Leadership Amidst Poverty: A Mixed Methodological Analysis of the Shack Dwellers Federation of Namibia” (Journal of African American Studies, 2017), and other articles.

She is a member of the Association of Black Sociologists, the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity, the American Academy of Religion, and the Chicago Organizers Guild.

Rev. Dr. Alton B. Pollard, III

President and Professor of Religion and Culture
Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary

A scholar, author, consultant and speaker on the subject of African American and U.S. religion and culture, Alton B. Pollard III is Louisville Seminary's tenth president and previously served as dean of the School of Divinity and professor of Religion and Culture at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Pollard is the author of Mysticism and Social Change: The Social Witness of Howard Thurman (1992) and a new edition of W.E.B. DuBois’s The Negro Church as well as co-author of Helpers for a Healing Community: A Pastoral Care Manual for HIV/AIDS (2006). He has also edited and co-edited several volumes including How Long This Road: Race, Religion and the Legacy of C. Eric Lincoln; The Papers of Howard Washington Thurman Volumes I and II; and The Black Church Studies Reader. He has also written dozens of book chapters, journal articles, and op-eds..

The Edwards Peacemaking Lecturers

The Louisville Presbyterian theological Seminary Edwards Peacemaking Lectureship honors Dr. George Edwards and his wife, Jean. Dr. Edwards, who died in 2010, served the seminary for 27 years as professor of New Testament. Together, the George and Jean Edwards shared a ministry that was active in Christian efforts for peace and social justice.

Consultation Minister

SHERRY GAY-GREEN Pastor, St. Paul AME Church
Manchester, Kentucky

In 2005 Sherry Green retired from her career as a program analyst for the Kentucky Department of Agriculture following more than 29 years of service. Her life in ministry began the following year when she became member of African Methodist Episcopal Church, St. Peter AME, Harrodsburg, Kentucky. Two years later she received her license to preach in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. She was ordained as a local deacon for the African Methodist Episcopal Church in 2011; re-obligated as an intinerant deacon in 2016; and was ordained as an itinerant elder in 2017.

Green is a 2018 graduate of Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, where she received her Master of Arts (Religion) degree with a concentration in Black Church Studies. During her time at Louisville Seminary, she was awarded the James W. Tinsley Award, the Dean K. Thompson Prize in Practical Theology and the New Horizon Scholarship.

Artist in Residence

ALISON STABLER

The 2019 BCS Consultation Artist in Residence is Alison Stabler, a second-year Master of Divinity Student at Louisville Seminary. Her exhibit, “Echoes of Alabama” is a collection of photographs and narratives about the history of slavery, Civil Rights, and rural ministry in Alabama. It features the use of hashtags, theological quotes, Scripture, and original poetry to reflect on the reality, past and present that African Americans face in the Deep South - especially how the Black Church fights for the rights of people - all people. There are echoes everywhere … can you hear them?

Alison is a long-time member of Highland Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky. She is especially interested in theology and Civil Rights. She also enjoys writing and artwork - painting, creating fractal art, and photography. She has a deep and abiding love for animals, general weirdness, and all things Star Wars, Big Lebowski, & Game of Thrones. She also believes that chocolate is one of God’s greatest creations and has perfected the art of making margaritas.

Consultation Musicians

KYRI DEMBY AND THE BREATH OF LIFE WORSHIP TEAM OF PHILLIPS MEMORIAL CME CHURCH

Kyri Demby began directing and playing for church choirs at the age of eleven. He was given the opportunity to perform with the famed Bethune-Cookman College Concert Chorale under the direction of Dr. Rebecca Steele. In this, he performed for and with such names as Ray Charles, Richard Smallwood, Moses Hogan, Glenn Burleigh, and Max Roach. Demby received his Bachelor of Arts degree in music education and sacred music. He has also received a Master of Education degree in educational leadership from the University of South Florida.

“Each one must reach one (or two or three)!” is Demby’s belief about teaching and community service. He is a mentor to many students as well as other professionals whom he offers a great deal of support. He is currently serving as the general music teacher at Jacob Elementary School and the music director for Antioch and Portland Baptist Church. Demby has written and published several children’s books including: Lori Biscuit - the Musical Detective Series, Simon the Self Control Seal, Taylor the Truth Telling Tiger, and The Tales of the Steel Quarters.