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.

Spring 2023 Courses

  • REL 517   “Race” and the New Testament

  • REL 605    Black Theology

  • REL 626    Systematic Theology

  • REL 677    Natural Disasters in the Christian Tradition: Ritual and Theological Responses

  • REL 736    God, Artists, and Celebrities: Black Religion During the Great  Migration

  • REL 739    Pentecostalism in Africa: Perspectives, Practice and Prospects

  • REL 740    Battle for the Soul of America: Christianity and the Culture Wars

  • REL 800    Introduction to Public Theology, Public Policy, and Moral Fusion Movements in America

  • REL 810    My Neighbor’s Faith: Building Interreligious Community

  • REL 823    Trauma, Moral Injury, and Crisis Ministry

  • REL 846    Mystics and Social Practice

  • REL 852    Women’s Ways of Knowing

  • REL 856    Pastoral Wisdom inside Prison: Fiction, Memoir and Drama

  • REL 931    Ethics, Imagination, and the Art of Living

  • REL 948    Women of the Gospel: Jackson, Clark, Caesar, Franklin

  • REL 996    Worship: The Embodied Moment for Self and Church Community

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