The PhD Program in African American Preaching and Sacred Rhetoric at Christian Theological Seminary (CTS) is now accepting applications to join its second cohort of students. Applications will be taken until December 17, 2018. The academic program, the world’s first and only of its kind, aims to research, develop, and expose the untold treasures of the unique and indigenous American art form of African American preaching, in order to ignite a preaching renaissance and revive Christianity in 21st century America.
The PhD program was accredited by the Association of Theological Schools in 2016 and welcomed its first cohort of 10 exceptional students in January 2017. The program aims to develop practitioner-scholars deeply connected to the church and the academy with critical awareness of the history of African American preaching and other forms of sacred rhetoric in the United States; the theologies informing this history and practice; the signature skills involved in the practice of African American preaching and sacred rhetoric; and the gifts these traditions can offer the wider, global church, especially European American churches in North America. Though shaped by African American cultural values, the program brings African American traditions into dialogue with European American (and other) approaches.
“The PhD program has been like a rain shower in a parched desert. In diving into the fields of rhetoric and homiletics, my categories and methodologies have been expanded, my preaching has been enchanted, and my mind continues to be engaged,” said PhD student Rev. Watson Jones. Rev. R. Janae Pitts-Murdock, also a member of the program’s first cohort, explained that, “The unrelenting intensity of intellectual inquiry is consistently matched by the authentic collegiality of my cohort, the contagious vision of Dr. Frank A. Thomas, and the vital contribution that our research will make to entities well beyond the Church and the Academy. I am simultaneously humbled and energized at every turn.”
The PhD program grew out of the visionary leadership of Dr. Frank A. Thomas, Founding Director and the Nettie Sweeney and Hugh Th. Miller Professor of Homiletics at Christian Theological Seminary, and the unwavering support of the Christian Theological Seminary Faculty and Board of Trustees, the early investment, commitment and resolve of renowned scholar and mentor, Michael Charles Leff, and partnerships with CTS colleague Dr. Ronald J. Allen and former president, Dr. Matthew Myer Boulton.
Thomas, a prolific practitioner-scholar, is the author of numerous works including, They Like to Never Quit Praisin’ God: The Role of Celebration in Preaching (Pilgrim Press, 2013), Introduction to the Practice of African American Preaching (Abington Press, 2016), and co-editor of Preaching with Sacred Fire: An Anthology of African American Sermons 1750 to the Present (W.W. Norton, 2010). Thomas came to Indianapolis, IN, after serving with distinction as the senior pastor for two remarkable congregations: New Faith Baptist Church of Matteson, IL, and Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church of Memphis, TN, for eighteen years and thirteen years, respectively.
More information about the PhD program, including how to apply, can be found here.