by Kevin Lamár Peterman
Training graduate and professional students for religious ministry is a hallmark of American higher education. Today’s MSI Line Up highlights seminaries and divinity schools that make up the nation’s 6 historically black theological institutions. Historically Black Theological Institutions (HBTIs) are committed to a unique mission that is linked to educating students of African descent who will serve marginalized communities and congregations. For more than a century, these institutions have given students an opportunity to develop a comprehensive theology of liberation while training them in the areas of systematic theology, practical theology, history, world religions, and biblical studies. HBTI alumni include religious leaders such as Vashti Mckenzie, Otis Moss Jr., Charles Blake, Marcus Cosby, John W. Kinney and Gina Stewart. These institutions remain critical to the future of preparing men and women who will become effective leaders in the church, the academy, the non-profit sector and the public-square.
1) Howard University School of Divinity—Washington, D.C.
Founded in 1870 as the School of Religion, the Howard University School of Divinity (HUSD) is one of the oldest historically black theological institutions in the United States. Howard’s divinity school is committed to teaching and spiritual formation while also producing research pertaining to theology and ecclesiastical studies throughout the African diaspora. The school received full accreditation under the leadership of Dean Benjamin Elijah Mays and today offers academic programs that include the Master of Divinity (M.Div.), Master of Arts (M.A.), and Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) degrees. An envisioned PH.D. program has also been recently announced. In 2017, HUSD announced the appointment of Yolanda Pierce, Ph.D as dean. Pierce is the first woman to hold this position in the divinity school’s history. Learn more about the Howard University School of Divinity at http://divinity.howard.edu/
2) The Samuel Dewitt Proctor School of Theology of Virginia University—Richmond, VA
The Samuel Dewitt Proctor School of Theology (STVU) is located in Richmond, Virginia on the campus of Virginia Union University. The origins of the school date back to 1865 when the Richmond Theological Institute which later became the Virginia Union School of Religion was founded. STVU is named after the late Reverend Samuel DeWitt Proctor, PH.D, former president of Virginia Union University and pastor of New York City’s historic Abyssinian Baptist Church. Degrees offered at STVU include the Master of Arts in Christian Education, the Master of Divinity and the Doctor of Ministry. A dual degree in conjunction with the Virginia Commonwealth University is also offered in two areas: Master of Divinity and Master of Social Work and Master of Divinity and Master of Science in Patient Counseling. The institution also houses the Barry Young Center for Ministry Formation, the Center for African American Pentecostalism & Leadership Development, the Center For Lifelong Learning and Leadership, the Johnson A. Edosomwan Institute for Evangelism & Global Christianity, Centering Women and the Green Seminary Initiative ect. Today the Samuel Dewitt Proctor School of Theology boast an enrollment of nearly 400 students and is nationally known for producing gifted preachers, scholars and civic leaders. The school is currently under the leadership Dr. Corey D. B. Walker who was appointed dean earlier this year. Learn mor about the Virginia Union Samuel Dewitt Proctor School of Theology at https://www.vuu.edu/theology/about-stvu
3) Shaw University Divinity School—Raleigh, NC
Shaw University Divinity School is an accredited theological institution located in Raleigh, NC. The school currently offers the Master of Arts (M.A.) in Christian Education and a Master of Divinity (M.Div.) degrees. The divinity school is deeply rooted in the Black Baptist religious tradition and is known for primarily producing scholars and ecumenical leaders for the local church. Most recently an initiave entitled, “Shaw Day” was establish to highlight and strengthen the partnership between the divinity school and neighboring congregations. The institution is currently led by Dean Johnny Hill, Ph.D. Learn more about Shaw University Divinity School at http://www.shawu.edu/Academics/Divinity.aspx
4) The Interdenominational Theological Center—Atlanta, GA
The Interdenominational Theological Center, commonly referred to as ITC is a unique theological institution that was founded as a graduate professional school in 1958. The academic center is comprised of the Morehouse School of Religion, Gammon Theological Seminary, Turner Theological Seminary, Phillips School of Theology, the Charles Harrison Mason Theological Seminary and the Richardson Fellowship. Together, these individual schools of theology form a cluster that provides students with an enriching experience across denominations. Students at ITC are given the opportunity to earn the Master of Divinity (M.Div.), Master of Arts in Christian Education (M.A.C.E.), Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) or the Doctor of Theology in Pastoral Care (Th.D) degrees. An online Master of Divinity (M.Div.) is also offered. Each year a prestigious lecture series named in honor of the late Dr. Gardner Calvin Taylor, the Dean of Black preaching is held on the campus of ITC. The ecumenical institution has a long tradition of producing academicians and leaders for the church and the global community. Learn more about the Interdenominational Theological Center at http://www.itc.edu/
5) Hood Theological Seminary—Salisbury, NC
Named in honor of Bishop James Walker Hood, Hood Theological Seminary was established in 1879 as the Zion Wesley Institute. The institute later grew to become Livingstone College which is located in Salisbury, NC. In 2001, Hood Theological Seminary became independent of the college and reorganized as a free-standing theological institution. Today, the seminary has a North Carolina campus and a site in Greenville, AL. The seminary is accredited by the Association of Theological Schools and offers the following degrees; Master of Divinity (M.Div), Master of Arts in Theological Studies (M.T.S.), and the Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.). The Center for Chaplaincy is also under the auspices of Hood Theological Seminary. Learn more about Hood Theological Seminary at https://www.hoodseminary.edu/
6) Payne Theological Seminary—Wilberforce, OH
Payne Theological Seminary was founded by the African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church under the auspices of Wilberforce University in 1891. Named in honor of Bishop Daniel AlexanderPayne, an advocate of higher education, the institution was formed to prepare leaders for ministry in the tradition of liberation, reconciliation, and social justice. Payne later became a free-standing seminary in 1894 and was first accredited in 1956. The Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) and the Master of Divinity (M.Div.) degrees are offered with online course options. The institution currently has nearly 150 students enrolled and more than 20 members of the faculty. Learn more about Payne Theological Seminar at http://payne.edu/