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Seminary Receives $200,000 Grant for Black Church Studies Program

by Ashley Schaffner | Feb 19, 2013
Louisville Seminary has received a $200,000 grant from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations to support and expand its Black Church Studies Program. This program at Louisville Seminary addresses critical needs in African-American churches and offers exceptional opportunities for students to expand their ministry to people in a variety of cultural and religious settings. Strengthening the program is one of five key initiatives of the Seminary’s strategic plan, ‘Covenant for the Future.’

“When it comes to supporting religious institutions, the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations’ principal commitment is to graduate theological education, because this type of education has a direct impact on our nation’s moral integrity and future,” said Cheryl Tupper, program director for religion and health care at the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations. “Our support goes to institutions with reputations of academic excellence and whose primary mission is to prepare graduate students fully for pastoral or pulpit ministry. Louisville Seminary reflects high-quality educational programs that the Foundations are interested in supporting.  In particular, the Black Church Studies Program demonstrates a strong commitment to ministry and to the life of the church.”

“Our priority is building bridges across the lines of religion, race and culture that divide our world,” said Louisville Seminary President Michael Jinkins. “The Black Church Studies Program is a core component of our vision to prepare people for ministry amidst increasing diversity. We are grateful that the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations support this vision.”

The grant will help educate black clergy theologically, raise awareness of the value of theological education among laity in black churches and enrich the quality of education for all students at Louisville Seminary through engagement with the black church tradition. In its first three years, the Black Church Studies Program at Louisville Seminary has made significant strides, with 30 students enrolled in the curriculum. Courses are taken (and taught) by African-Americans as well as European-Americans.

“A strong Black Church Studies program needs to do more than offer classes in Black Theology, Black Religion, African-American Christianity and Black Preaching,” said Lewis Brogdon, director of the Black Church Studies Program and assistant professor of New Testament and Black Church Studies. “This grant will allow leaders in Black Church Studies programs to spend time in local and regional congregations educating laypeople about issues affecting our churches and communities, advocating for theological education and recruiting leaders who want to come to seminary.”

“The Black Church Studies Program is designed to enrich the work and worship of not only black pastors and congregations, but of all persons, black or white, who study at Louisville Seminary. The program has already changed the character of the Seminary’s communal life and deepened the theological and spiritual sensibilities of our students,” said Susan R. Garrett, dean and professor of New Testament at Louisville Seminary.

About ‘Covenant for the Future,’ Louisville Seminary’s strategic plan
Louisville Seminary's 'Covenant for the Future' seeks to eliminate seminary tuition debt, which is a persistent problem among seminary graduates across the nation. Because they will not be burdened by seminary debt, our graduates will be free to go wherever God calls them when they graduate. They may be called to lead a congregation, to develop a new church, to establish a nontraditional worshiping community, to serve as a marriage and family therapist or a hospital chaplain or to create an as-yet-unimagined position as servant and leader for the world.

About Louisville Seminary
Founded in 1853, Louisville Seminary offers an inclusive and diverse learning community, welcoming students from wide ecumenical backgrounds while maintaining its long, historic commitment to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A). Louisville Seminary is committed to building bridges across the world's religious, racial and cultural divides. It is distinguished by its nationally-recognized field education and marriage and family therapy programs, the scholarship and church service among its faculty and a commitment to training women and men to participate in the continuing ministry of Jesus Christ.

About the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations
The AVDF is a group of private foundations established by the late Arthur Vining Davis, who was the former president and longtime chairman of the Board of Alcoa. The Foundations’ grants are directed to five program areas: private higher education, secondary education, religion, public television and health care. 

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