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Public Theology in the City

The practice of public theology enables the faith community to engage in a disciplined theological analysis of a given context so as to understand and appreciate the forces of good and evil in the public realm. The purpose of public theological analysis is to determine what action(s) the faith community needs to take in order to further the kingdom of God on earth.

Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary is excited to offer this innovative and integrative three credit hour course on public theology in Fall 2015. Public theology is a collaborative process best learned in the context of urban diversity where public concerns or issues are found and this course seeks to do just that. Taught by Dr. Dave Frenchak, president emeritus and founding director of the Seminary Consortium for Urban Ministry (SCUPE), and Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors, senior pastor of Second Baptist Church, Evanston, this course will place students in partnership with an urban congregation where they will learn the theory of public theology and practice the discipline of public theology that leads to a redemptive action. In addition, the course is also being taught in cooperation with Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdhal's Office and students will learn how to use basic community organizing principles to identify a specific action, with members of the community, to be taken and accomplished within the community during the semester.

Interview with Dr. Dave Frenchak

Interview with Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors

Dr. Dave Frenchak

Dr. David Frenchak is the founding director of the Seminary Consortium for Urban Pastoral Education, a program of theological education designed to serve seminaries seeking to provide an opportunity for their students to have both theory and experience in urban ministry. While serving as the President of the Consortia, Dr. Frenchak taught courses in: Support Systems in Urban Ministry, Pastoral Care in an Urban Setting, Conflict Resolution, Dimensions and Dynamics of Leadership, Urban Issues and The Art of Prophetic Preaching in the City. At North Park University he taught Human Resources and Community Development and Ethics and community development and at Loyola University he taught Social Ethics and Community and Applied Research. By organizing a Congress on Urban Ministry, held every other year for three decades, he brought thousands of urban ministry pastors and activists from around the world together to address issues of political, economic and social justice facing cities. His recent focus, as President Emeritus, is in the discipline of theology, specifically public theology. He has taught courses in public theology at Luther Seminary, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and Louisville Theological Seminary. His recent lecture on public theology, given at Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary, may be viewed here.



Rev. Dr. Michael C. R. Nabors

The Reverend Dr. Michael C. R. Nabors is senior pastor of the Second Baptist Church of Evanston, Illinois. He was called to the church in December of 2014 after serving New Calvary Baptist Church of Detroit, Michigan for sixteen years. He also served as Assistant Pastor at Shiloh Baptist Church of Trenton, New Jersey and as Pastor of First Baptist Church of Princeton, New Jersey.

Most recently, Dr. Nabors has also served as Director of the Master of Divinity and Student Life Programs at Ecumenical Theological Seminary in Detroit where he is professor of Homiletics and African American Religious History. He also taught at Ashland Theological Seminary in Ashland, Ohio; Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan; and Marygrove College in Detroit, Michigan for the past ten years. His primary academic interest is in helping students practice homiletical preparation for preaching in the changing world of the 21st century. He has used Samuel Proctor’s "Hegelian dialectic," Paul Scott Wilson’s "Four Pages of the Sermon," and William Buechner’s literary genre as a foundation for his preaching courses. His primary church interest is in building bridges to erase the gap between community and university, the African American religious experience and the academy.

Dr. Nabors earned his undergraduate degree in English and Creative Writing at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He earned the Master of Divinity and Master of Theology degrees at Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, New Jersey. He completed his Doctor of Ministry degree as a Samuel DeWitt Proctor Fellow at United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio. He was a Fellow in the Sustaining Pastoral Excellence Program of Lilly Endowment, Inc., as well as a Fellow in the Pastor-Theologian Program led by the Institute of Theological Study.

Dr. Nabors has received over 100 community, church and ministry awards for leadership and service in New Jersey and Michigan. Before leaving Princeton, New Jersey, the Mayor and City Council commemorated his leadership by naming October 12th as “Dr. Michael Nabors Day.” He has been president of the Princeton and Trenton, New Jersey branches of the NAACP, the Michigan Progressive Baptist Convention, and Chairman of the Board for Detroit East, Inc., and Gateway Community Health.

Download Syllabus

This class in public theology is a collaborative course in partnership with Pastor Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors, and the congregation of the Second Baptist Church of Evanston. Second Baptist Church brings a 132 year-old history, presence and activism in Evanston into the partnership. The predominately African American congregation possesses a deep-seated liberation theology motif that is couched in its praise and worship, Christian Education and community outreach. Rev. Mark Dennis, Director of the McGaw YMCA, will serve as community liaison for the course. The Evanston YMCA was founded in 1885 and its objectives include promoting mental, moral, physical, and social welfare for everyone in the community. With more than ten thousand members, it serves 20,000 people in the community each year. The YMCA membership is a broad and diverse cross section of the community. Together we will do theological analyses, sociological analyses, political analyses and economic analyses that leads to action around the issue of racism in the community.

The class and the learning agenda is open to members of the collaborating congregation as well as local non-profit leadership and local pastors seeking to learn and practice the skills of public theological analysis that lead toward action.

The course will meet Friday 1:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. (with a break for dinner) and Saturday 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. (with a break for lunch) on September 11-12, October 9-10, and November 13-14. A final wrap-up meeting will be scheduled on December 5. Students should expect to attend all class sessions.

Course credit is available for Garrett-Evangelical students through the normal registration procedures. The course is also available to take as an enrichment course or to audit. Please contact the Garrett-Evangelical registrar for more information.

ACTS students may register through normal cross-registration procedures (contact your registrar for more information).