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 2024 Courses

Spring 2024 course work that meets the requirements for the Black Church Studies Certificate Program are listed below: 

REL 517   “Race” and the New Testament

REL 603    Love, Prophecy, and Social Criticism

REL 615    Introduction to Christian Ethics

REL 626    Systematic Theology

REL 661    Contemporary Black Theologies and the Early Church

REL 676    Natural Theology and the New Animism

REL 692    Special Topics in Gender and Sexuality Studies

REL 739    Pentecostalism in Africa, Perspectives, Practice and Prospects (satisfies the BCSCP history requirement)

REL 803    Introduction to Religious Education

REL 807    Introduction to Pastoral Theology and Care

REL 812    Principles and Practices of Preaching

REL 817    Pauli Murray In and Out of the Pulpit (satisfies the BCSCP history requirement)

REL 852    Women’s Ways of Knowing

REL 876     Psychopathology and Pastoral Care

REL 974     The Singing Souls of Black Folk (satisfies the BCSCP history requirement)

REL 978     Black Women, Spiritualities, and Social Change: A Holistic Womanist Exploration (satisfies the BCSCP history requirement)

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 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