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 YDS 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. Three (3) of those credit hours must include a course that explores an aspect of the history of the Black Church. 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.

Fall 2023 Courses

2023-24 course work that meets the requirements for the Black Church Studies Certificate Program are listed below: 

REL 3614 Creating  Financially Sustainable Churches and Nonprofits

REL 3615 Managing Crisis in Churches and Nonprofits 

REL 619 Eco-Futures: Theology, Ethics and Imagination

REL 621 Bioethics, Public Health and Environmental Justice 

REL 631 Christian Ethics Seminar 

REL 719 Christianity and Coloniality in Contemporary Africa (this course satisfies the BCSCP history requirement)

REL 807 Introduction to Pastoral Theology and Care

REL 808 Black Religion and Radical Education (this course satisfies the BCSCP history requirement)

REL 824 Ministry and the Disinherited (this course satisfies the BCSCP history requirement)

REL 831 Is it a Sermon?

REL 834 Preaching for Introverts

REL 926 W.E.B. Du Bois and Black Radical Traditions (this course satisfies the BCSCP history requirement)

REL 936 Religion and Race in the United States (this course satisfies the BCSCP history requirement)

REL 943 Gospel, Rap, and Social Justice: Prison and the Arts

REL 970 Theory in Mourning: Readings in Race, Religion, Gender and Sexuality 

REL 994 Moral Issues in Public Policy: Poverty, Health Care and Voting Rights (this course satisfies the BCSCP history requirement)

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


Academic Affairs

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

Office of Supervised Ministries

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