Gift of Black Theological Education Symposium

The Gift of Black Theological Education Symposium, held in Philadelphia on April 11-12, 2018, was the first gathering of the Lilly Endowment Initiative to Build Capacity for Sustainability in Historic Black Theological Schools. Over the past three years, these six schools — Hood Theological Seminary, Howard University School of Divinity, Interdenominational Theological Center, Payne Theological Seminary, Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology of Virginia Union University, and Shaw University Divinity School — have worked together in partnership with the In Trust Center for Theological Schools on an initiative to strengthen fundraising. The presidents/deans of each of the six schools have made leadership, governance, and institutional health a priority. Throughout the grant period, we engaged in peer learning, educational events, and leadership meetings, during which relationships were deepened and the leaders determined the need to focus more clearly and directly on the Gift of Black Theological Education as a whole.

Collectively, the schools contributed to framing the work of the current grant period (2018–2020). This new initiative focuses not on sustaining the initial fundraising initiative, but rather on developing something new. Guided by the theme of “Learn, Leaven, and Live,” we seek to engage one another in important conversations, commit to deepening the work within each school, and broaden our reach by inviting other key stakeholders, partners, and leaders into our discussion. 

During the first year of learning, we seek to foster a flourishing culture of generosity where everyone understands the benefits of an expanded community of learning beyond the six participating schools. Inspired by Isaiah 54:2, we are committed to “enlarging our tent” by building a broader community of learning by sharing our work with those who provide Black Theological Education outside of the six schools. We seek to offer a platform to spark change by addressing questions including these: How is education envisioned? Given that there is a felt need to return to an old principle of community and generosity and that the Black Church is being reformed, how can we best serve it now? How can the work and continued learning of Black Theological School leaders build community from within?

We invite you to view the recorded keynote presentations and a panel discussion by students at the six schools below. And please feel free to share the link to this page with colleagues and friends.