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.

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 

This initiative began in late 2014 with a focus on strengthening fundraising in Black theological schools over a period of three years. Each of the six schools focused on areas of fundraising, governance, board development, and leadership and administrative capacity. The In Trust Center provided resources in support of the individual schools' work, connecting school leaders to consultants with expertise in key areas. The In Trust Center also coordinated 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 participated in yearly gatherings to hear from experts, learn from one another, and build a learning community. In addition, the presidents and deans met in a small group to focus on areas critical to executive leadership.

It was in such a small group that the leaders identified a need to focus on the unique gift that Black theological education offers.

Lilly Endowment awarded a renewal grant to continue the work through 2020. During the second grant period, a shift was made toward building capacity within each school and building community among the schools. In 2017, the In Trust Center, along with the presidents and deans, hosted the first symposium on the gift of Black Theological education and inviting colleagues from other institutions and organizations. One student from each school shared why they chose their school and what the gift of Black Theological education means to them.

Our collective work will continue over the next three years as the presidents and deans work collaboratively to build a community that supports a broader network of Black leaders, faculty, scholars, and peers in other areas.

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.