Center for the Church and the Black Experience

A citadel of teaching, research, action, and reflection on Black life and Black Church life


The Center for the Church and the Black Experience (CBE) is committed to training seminarians and pastors to be pastoral, priestly, and prophetic “leaders of leaders.”


CBE offers the seminary and the broader community opportunities for understanding Christian faith via interracial and cross-cultural perspectives. It also seeks to facilitate greater understanding of religious leadership dynamics, organizational change, and public outreach and witness of Black churches in relation to the broader religious and social context.


Black faculty members and other scholars operating through CBE provide research, mentoring, and training via classroom teaching, publishing, seminars, workshops, and consultation to churches, community agencies, and the Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary community.

Meet CBE’s Director

Rev. Dr. Reginald Blount is the Murray H. Leiffer associate professor of formation, leadership and culture and director of CBE. His research and writings have centered on adolescent and young adult identity formation, African American identity formation, and Christian education and Strategic Leadership in the Black Church.

Reggie Blount

Junius B. Dotson Institute for Music and Worship in the Black Church & Beyond

Founded in 2022, in partnership with Discipleship Ministries of The United Methodist Church, the Junius B. Dotson Institute for Music and Worship in the Black Church and Beyond, a one-of-a-kind global Institute that provides training in the sacred musics of Africana church traditions and beyond for musicians and worship leaders.

Student reading scripture in the chapel

Black Seminarians Group

Garrett-Evangelical Black Seminarians sponsors programs, worship services, and other activities that affirm and encourage appreciation for Black customs, culture, and religious traditions. Membership is open to African Americans and international students from Africa and the Caribbean

pastor giving communion to a studuent

Pan-Methodist Fellows

Incoming AME, AMEZ, and CME students are eligible for the Pan-Methodist Fellows program. The program offers opportunities to gather in community with other Pan-Methodist fellows and faculty, and the ability to network with Garrett’s Pan-Methodist alums.

Rest, relax, and study in the Pembroke Room

The Maceo D. Pembroke Learning Resource Room located on the 1st floor of Garrett’s Main Building is a dedicated study, renewal, small group, and resource space for students, faculty, and staff.

pembroke room

Meet Our Black Faculty

I bring a decidedly intercultural voice and a teaching style that helps students question their answers to arrive at even deeper questions, and a collaborative style that ensures students learn to share their intellectual gifts and thus live of a life of service.


Rev. Dr. Esther E. Acolatse
Professor of Pastoral Theology and World Christianity

Whether doing theological work in the church, leadership in organizations, or in the academy, theology is a constructive, creative practice that requires us to continually speak in new ways about the beauty and fragmentation present in the world.


Dr. Brian Bantum

Neal F. and Ila A. Fisher Professor of Theology

This is such an exciting era to study the Old Testament because traditional approaches are now accompanied by newer ones. As a result of these newer approaches, innovative questions are being introduced to the field.


Rev. Dr. Cheryl Anderson
Professor of Old Testament

Preaching occurs in the context of worship and offers us an opportunity to experience God’s presence not only in the words of scripture, but also through the people’s encounter with the divine presence in the context of their lives.


Rev. Dr. Gennifer Brooks
Ernest and Bernice Styberg Professor of Preaching
Director, Styberg Preaching Institute

I believe the purpose of Christian education is to be emancipatory, to set people free to be children of God and co-creators with God.


Rev. Dr. Reginald Blount
Murray H. Leiffer Associate Professor of Formation, Leadership, and Culture
Director, Garrett-Evanston CDF Freedom Schools Program

Our Heritage


The Center for the Church and the Black Experience was first conceived by Black students: Gessel Berry, B. Herbert Martin, Jonathan Keaton, and Ervin Smith in the late 1960’s. Through the collaborative efforts and vision of these students and former faculty member, Bishop Edsel Ammons, CBE began operating in the fall of 1970. The first director of CBE was Dr. Hycel B. Taylor, hired in 1970.


  • In the early years, CBE focused on 1) the recruitment and retention of Black students; 2) the recruitment and hiring of Black faculty; and 3) courses that specifically addressed the needs of Black students. By the 1980s, CBE had established a strong Black presence at the seminary.
  • In 2000, CBE began to focus on Black life in the global black diaspora. An intellectual space was created for Black churches to think globally about the demands of ministry in the 21st century.
  • In 2007, CBE began to re-imagine its purpose and future. A Board of Visitors was established, which consists of the seminary’s president and dean, CBE director, Black faculty, alumni, students, and public members. The board has been instrumental in shaping CBE’s present focus: to be a citadel of teaching, research, action, and reflection on Black life and Black Church life, for the sake of the Church, the academy, and the world.


Current CBE Board of Visitors


  • Mr. Gerald Taylor (Chair)
  • Rev. P. Devon Brown
  • Rev. Dr. Michele Watkins
  • Ms. Lejia Johnson
  • Bishop Linda Lee
  • Rev. Dr. Michael C.R. Nabors
  • Rev. Myron McCoy
  • Ex-Officio: Rev. Dr. Javier A. Viera

Past CBE Directors

Bishop Edsel Ammons
CBE Founding Faculty Member, G-ETS Faculty

Dr. Hycel B. Taylor
First CBE Director

Dr. Carl H. Marbury
G-ETS Academic Dean
Late 1970s

Dr. Philip A. Harley
CBE Director
Late 1970s

Dr. Larry Murphy
CBE Director
Early 1990s

Dr. Linda Thomas
CBE Director
Late 1990s

Dr. Jeffrey L. Tribble, Sr.
CBE Director
Early 2000s

Dr. Reginald Blount
CBE Interim Director

Dr. R. Drew Smith
CBE Director

Dr. Angela Cowser
CBE Director

Dr. Taurean Webb
CBE Director

Leaders Among Leaders: CBE Alumni

CBE alums who have received Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary’s Distinguished Alum Award include:


  • TiShaunda McPherson (G-ETS 2015)
  • Carmichael D. Crutchfield (G-ETS 2010)
  • Dennis M. Oglesby Jr. (G-ETS 1995)
  • Tracy Smith Malone (G-ETS 1993)
  • Ann E. Streaty Wimberly (G-ETS 1993)
  • Julius Trimble (G-ETS 1983)
  • Myron F. McCoy (G-ETS 1982)
  • Darrell Lamar Jackson (G-ETS 1981)
  • Beverly J. Shamana (G-ETS 1980)
  • Jonathan Keaton (GTS 1971 and G-ETS 1979)
  • James Cone (GTS 1963)
  • Charles Wesley Jordan (GTS 1960)
  • Edsel Ammons (GBI 1957)

At CBE 50th Anniversary Gala, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary recognized the Faithful 50. These 50 Black alums exemplify faithfulness, commitment, and perseverance in ministry through their leadership in academic, nonprofit, and congregational settings.

Join the Work

Join us in making certain that future generations of “leaders of leaders” benefit from CBE’s work by financially supporting our efforts. Be sure to designate your gift to the “Center for the Church and the Black Experience.”