Black Church Studies

Black Church Studies (BCS) at Yale Divinity School (YDS) supports inquiry into and engagement with the practices of African American churches and other Christian communities throughout the African Diaspora. To promote and cultivate such inquiry and engagement, BCS at YDS offers opportunities for critical reflection and practice among emerging and existing leaders in the Black Church and in the broader community.   

BCS at YDS offers a Certificate in Black Church Studies, for interested students who wish to respond to the evolving needs of the Black Church and marginalized communities and who intend to serve in historically Black congregations, and/or are inspired by the rich and ecumenical traditions of the Black Church. 

Director: Rev. Joanne Browne Jennings

Certificate Requirements

Students, in consultation with their Academic Advisor and the Director of BCS at YDS, are required to complete a range of course work, including at least twelve (12) credit hours of African American religious inquiry. In addition, students must attend at least one (1) colloquium per semester and complete a supervised ministry in a BCS- designated site. Students pursuing the M.A.R. degree have the option of doing a project tied to their research interest and vocational goals in relation to Black Church Studies instead of a supervised ministry placement. Students are also required to participate in at least one (1) retreat that supports personal renewal and creative reflection on the socio-economic and spiritual needs of the African American community.

2020 - 2021 Courses

REL 508 - The Book of Job and African American Reflections on Suffering 

REL 510 - The Letters of Paul - Ethnicity, Enslavement, Empire and the End of the World

REL 511- Past & Present Tense: Classical Biblical Prophecy and the African American Prophetic Tradition

REL 517 - “Race” and the New Testament

REL 568 - Women and Gender in Early Christianity 

REL 603 - Love, Prophecy and Social Concern

REL 605 - Black Theology 

REL 651 - Digital Media, Liturgy and Theology

REL 670 - Christian Identity and the Formation of the Racial World

REL 815 - Radical Pedagogy

REL 823 - Trauma, Moral Injury and Crisis Ministry

REL 824 - Ministry and the Disinherited 

REL 836 - African American Preaching 

REL 843 - Howard Thurman: Mysticism and Prophetic Witness

REL 852 - Women’s Ways of Knowing

REL 856 - Pastoral Wisdom in Fiction, Wisdom and Drama (inside- out course)

REL 908 - The Changing Face of Community - Police - Ministry Relations in the Twenty-First Century

REL 933 - Poetry and Faith

REL 943 - Performance behind Bars: Sacred Music, Sacred Texts, and Social Justice

REL 944 - African American Religious Music

REL 972- Pandemic Ethics

REL 988 - Virtue, Vice, and Epistemic Injustice 

In addition, students may request to do an independent study on a relevant theme, and may inquire about Courses offerings through the AFAM Department of Yale College.  

For further information contact:


Academic Affairs

(203) 432-6340
(203) 432-7475

Office of Supervised Ministries

(203) 436-5703
(203) 432-5356