Black Theological Education

The In Trust Center for Theological Schools is the coordinating organization for the Lilly Endowment-funded initiative on Building Capacity for Sustainability in Historically Black Theological Schools.

Our Community

We are the six ATS accredited historically Black
Theological institutions in the U.S.

We are the stewards of nearly two centuries
of Black Theological Education.

Our Commitment

We are boldly committed to Black Theological excellence.

We are boldly committed to the wholeness of people,
institutions and communities.

And we are boldly committed to liberation and freedom
of all God’s creation.

Six schools are participants in the initiative:

Hood Theological Seminary
Howard University School of Divinity 
Interdenominational Theological Center
Payne Theological Seminary
Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology of Virginia Union University
Shaw University Divinity School 


In 2014, we launched an initiative with a focus on strengthening fundraising in Black Theological Schools over a period of three years. After a three year period of each institution addressing issues of fundraising, governance, board development, and leadership and administrative capacity, a second initiative – Building Capacity for Sustainability – was launched. The In Trust Center serves to provide consultant engagement and resources in support of the individual schools' work, connecting school leaders to expertise and facilitating learning community space. The In Trust Center also coordinates on-site work with leadership teams, boards, administrative teams, and faculty to support the work of the initiative. The presidents, deans, board chairs, and development officers have participated in yearly gatherings to hear from experts, learn from one another, and build a explore future work.

One important outcome of the initiative has been an intentional focus on the unique Gift of Black Theological Education. The presidents and deans together crafted a commitment statement, created a logo, and began to partner in collaboration with a broader network of Black leaders, Church leaders, community members, faculty, scholars, and peers to share the Gift.

Lilly Endowment, Inc. generously provides funding for this initiative.

The first symposium held in April 2018 is highlighted below.

A public conversation is planned for October 2020 in Atlanta. Information will be availble soon.

Reimagining Church and Academy
october 20-21, 2020

Information coming soon for the October Big tent event, Reimagining Church and Academy.

The Gift of Black Theological Education Symposium
April 11-12, 2018

In April 2018, the In Trust Center hosted a symposium in Philadelphia for more than 60 key leaders to discuss the significance of Black theological education. Keynote speakers included Dr. John W. Kinney, professor of theology at the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University, who spoke on “The Gift of Black Theological Education,” and Dr. Frank A. Thomas, professor of homiletics at Christian Theological Seminary, who spoke on “The Gift of Black Preaching.” Other highlights included a student panel and reports from faculty, presidents, deans, and board members on the impact of black theological education and the work of the grant initiative.

View the recorded keynote presentations and a panel discussion by students at the six schools below.

A student from each of the participating schools was asked what the gift of Black theological education means to them. See their responses below.