A New Ph.D. Program in African American Preaching and Sacred Rhetoric

ctslogoThe Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis has announced the establishment of a Ph.D. program in African American preaching and sacred rhetoric. It is the first of its kind in the nation, according to seminary officials. The new Ph.D. program will focus on the special role that preaching has in the African American community, viewing it as an art form, a force for social change, and an area overdue for academic study.

Frank-A.-ThomasDr. Frank A. Thomas, the Nettie Sweeney and Hugh Th. Miller Professor of Homiletics at the seminary and director of the Academy of Preaching and Celebration, stated that “for people of color, the man or woman in the pulpit is often the heart and face of the community. That is a unique role that carries a unique responsibility, and we want to prepare men and women with both the scholarship and practical understanding of preaching to be worthy of that call.”

The new program will emphasize the training of “practitioner-scholars” rather than developing full-time, tenure-track professors, Dr. Thomas said. It is expected that graduates of the program will continue to engage in scholarship but will also actively participate in ministry.

Dr. Thomas is the author of They Like to Never Quit Praisin’ God: The Role of Celebration in Preaching (Pilgrim Press, 2013) and co-editor of Preaching With Sacred Fire: An Anthology of African American Sermons, 1750 to the Present (W.W. Norton & Co, 2010). He holds a master’s degree in African-Caribbean studies from Northeastern Illinois University, a master’s degree and a doctor of ministry degree from the Chicago Theological Seminary, a doctor of ministry degree from the United Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. in communications and rhetoric from the University of Memphis.

According the latest figures from the U.S. Department of Education, African Americans make up 26 percent of the student body at Christian Theological Seminary.

Related Articles


  1. What are the requirement to enroll in this new Ph.D. program “African American Preaching” in other words, do I need to have my M.Div or can I have a Masters of Theology? And my 2nd question, I live in Chicago, can I take it online, or do I need to come in the classroom? and if so, will it be during the week or weekends?

  2. This is an area of study that I would like to recieve more information on. It appears to me in my 57 years of life that the academic curriculum is ever changing. I notice that the gospel and the word of God has not changed and it is about time that our institutions of higher education got on board with the things that are really important.

  3. I am interested. I have a MDiv from SBTS. What are the requirements for this program? Is there distance learning, or is it all on campus. Currently, I am in St. Louis, MO.

Leave a Reply

Get the JBHE Weekly Bulletin

Receive our weekly email newsletter delivered to your inbox

Latest News

Remembering the Impact of Black Women on College Basketball

As former college basketball players, we are grateful that more eyes are watching, respecting and enjoying women’s college basketball. However, we are equally troubled by the manner in which the history of women’s basketball has been inaccurately represented during the Caitlin Clark craze.

Trinity College President Joanne Berger-Sweeney Announces Retirement

In 2014, Dr. Berger-Sweeney became the first African American and first woman president of Trinity College since its founding in 1823. Over the past decade, the college has experienced growth in enrollment and graduation rates, hired more diverse faculty, and improved campus infrastructure.

Study Discovers Link Between Midlife Exposure to Racism and Risk of Dementia

Scholars at the University of Georgia, the University of Iowa, and Wake Forest University, have found an increased exposure to racial discrimination during midlife results in an increased risk for Alzheimer's disease and dementia later in life.

Josie Brown Named Dean of University of Hartford College of Arts and Sciences

Dr. Brown currently serves as a professor of English and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Point Park University, where she has taught courses on African American, Caribbean, and Ethnic American literature for the past two decades.

Featured Jobs