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Mailing Address
2121 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60201

Phone: (847) 866-3984
Toll-Free: (800) SEMINARY
Fax: (847) 866-3884
Angela.Cowser@garrett.edu

Welcome to CBE!

Angela Cowser EditThe Center for the Church and the Black Experience (CBE) is an academic initiative focusing on church life as experienced by Black people. From its inception in 1970, CBE has prepared graduates of Garrett-Evangelical to be "leaders among leaders!"

In 2010, we celebrated our 40th anniversary.  CBE’s past is a rich one—embodied by students, staff members, and faculty of Garrett-Evangelical, by pastors, parishioners, and community leaders in Evanston, metropolitan Chicago, and beyond, and by  supporters and partners from many places.  Each of these persons contributed to a history centered around teaching and learning, activism and service, research and publishing—and, at the end of the day, centered on transforming and being transformed.  Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary became a different place because of CBE.  Evanston became a richer place because of CBE.  And many students, staff, and faculty came to Garrett-Evangelical because of CBE.

CBE’s present builds on its past, but against a very different backdrop of political, sociological, and theological challenges than those faced forty, thirty, twenty, or even ten years ago.  Today, the dominant narrative as it relates to racial justice and equality is how far we’ve come—not how far we’ve yet to go.  So if the question previously was should we start something like CBE, the question now is should we keep it?   If the question previously was why do we need something like CBE, the question today is why do we still need something like CBE? 

Over this past three years, CBE has convened panels that have brought leading scholars and thought leaders to campus to talk about the unfinished business of civil rights, the growing distance between churches and the urban poor, the increasing perceptual differences across generational lines, and the inattentiveness of our churches to forces of globalization.  CBE has taken faculty and students to South Africa to look comparatively at challenges to the theological formation of public leaders, and CBE has brought to campus scholars from South Africa and from the UK to reflect on religion and race in the racialized West. CBE has joined hands with congregations in Evanston in promoting community service in response to social needs within Evanston and metropolitan Chicago, and it has convened dialogues between leaders of the Chicago police department and seminary professors across the Chicagoland area to discuss ways seminaries can assist in responding to Chicago’s youth violence crisis. CBE is embracing its present context with vigor, and through a critical lens.

CBE has offered a vantage point on the experiences of Black people and their relationship in a broader sense to what it means to be human and to be made in God’s image and for God’s purposes. But it has also offered an opportunity for building solidarities across racial, ethnic, gender, and geographic boundaries. CBE still offers this, and we invite your participation and partnership.  We invite you to enter into dialogue with us about the challenges and needs of our communities and to participate with us programmatically as together we attempt to respond to our present context.  And we invite you to partner with us financially as we attempt to build our capacity and extend our contributions.

Yours truly,

Angela Cowser
Director, Center for the Church and the Black Experience

UMC Logo Garrett-Evangelical, a seminary related to
The United Methodist Church, welcomes
students from a wide range of faith traditions.