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Living Into Our Purpose

The Center for the Church and the Black Experience is committed to training seminarians and pastors to be pastoral, priestly, and prophetic “leaders of leaders” through building an unrestricted fund to support our work.

Click to Download Case Statement     

The Center for the Church and the Black Experience (CBE) at Garrett-Evangelical has been a beacon of hope and inspiration for Black students, pastors, churches, and communities for nearly 5 decades. 

CBE is instrumental in infusing Black people and Black religious life for the entire seminary. While we seek to address the unique challenges facing Black people, we also work to educate and inspire all persons who live, work, and study at the seminary.

As we look toward the future, CBE recognizes its unique position to become the leading academic center on teaching, research, action, and reflection on Black life and Black Church life. This vision will be secured as we endow the center, so that the center fully carries out its mission of preparing skilled, bold, and articulate leaders who share the transforming love of Jesus Christ. 

Therefore, CBE will raise at least $1 million to begin the first phase of our effort to permanently endow our work. This will ensure that academic and vocational initiatives focused on the multifaceted nature of Black life remains an essential component of the seminary’s institutional identity and curriculum. It will also preserve the Seminary’s legacy and further distinguish CBE as a center dedicated to improving the quality of life for Black people, the Black Church, and all people. 

Click here to make a gift today or create a pledge using the Gift Intention Form.  If you have questions or would like further information on ways to give contact Joe Emmick, vice president for development, at 847.866.3923 or

Our Heritage

CBE 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. 

Enriching Black Student Life

Enriching Black Student Life

Goal: $200,000

Scholarships for Black Students

To seed the establishment of Black student scholarships in order to increase the number of outstanding students who matriculate at Garrett-Evangelical and to help students graduate with less debt

Support Services for Black Students

To increase the number and scope of cross-cultural, cross-racial, local, regional, national, and international student internships 

Equipping Our Graduates to be Transformative Change Agents

Equipping Our Graduates to be Transformative Change Agents

Goal: $200,000

The Institute for Community Organizing and Congregational Development

Students, lay leaders, clergy, business, and community leaders will learn the arts and practices of community organizing in order to help congregations and organizations learn to do justice and shape more vital communities.

Peace and Justice Ministry

Students and alumni will experience international, cross-cultural, peace and justice immersions framed through a range of Black liberation struggles. Current travel sites include the Palestinian Territories, Israel, Ghana, and China.

CBE Black Alumni Network

The Network will be a national association organized regionally to build relationships, create a skills database, receive continuing education, and link Garrett-Evangelical students with Garrett-Evangelical alumni-mentors. 

Enhancing Black Church Life

Enhancing Black Church Life

Goal: $100,000

The Institute for Pastoral Excellence

Create new teaching modules—pastoral entrepreneurship, effective pastoring, retirement planning, the Elder appointment system, success and failure—that increase capacities for excellence in pastoral ministries.

Black Clergy Wellness Initiative

Create, teach, and lead principles and practices—peer support, group travel, and renewal retreats—that foster the full health and well-being of black clergy.

Garrett-Evangelical and CBE in the Community

Equip clergy, laity, and local church leaders for prophetic ministry in the Black Church and design a distinctive set of continuing education opportunities rooted in the needs of Black alumni working in a range of ministry contexts (e.g., interpersonal and street violence, evangelism, discipleship). 

Supporting the Unrestricted Fund

Supporting the Unrestricted Fund

Goal: $500,000

Unrestricted endowment support enables us to effectively operate all CBE programming (Black History Month, special worship services, lectures, and all of the projected endowment-related programs). 

Ways to Give and Support

Join us in making certain that future generations of “leaders of leaders” benefit from CBE’s work by joining our endowment campaign. By pulling together our resources as a community of friends and partners, we can meet and surpass our goal of $1 million. Please join us by selecting your level of support: 

CBE Contributor $45 to $99 (research materials on urban street violence)
CBE Friend $100 to $499 (one student in urban field education placement)
CBE Partner $500 to $999 (international cross-cultural education)
CBE Steward $1,000 to $4,999 (endow a clergy peer support group)
CBE Sponsor $5,000 to $9,999 (one month of Black History Month celebrations)
CBE Leader $10,000 to $24,999 (one year of Institute of Pastoral Excellence work)
President's Roundtable $25,000 and higher (endow a scholarship)


Alumni and Friends Gifts and Pledges

In honor of the 45th anniversary of CBE, alumni and friends may consider a small gift of $45 or $450 ($45 semi-annually over 5 years) or a larger gifts of $45,000 ($4,500 semi-annually over 5 years). Each gift, small or large, will help us continue to resource Black seminarians, congregations, and communities. 

Congregational Giving

  • Become a mentor to a currently enrolled Black seminarian with an annual pledge for giving
  • Host an annual CBE Ministry Sunday and establish a scholarship in the name of your congregation
  • Become a Mentoring Congregation for Black seminarians by giving a stipend $3,500
  • Earn income from an Annuity Gift to CBE
  • Include CBE in your estate planning (e.g., wills and trusts) 

Commemorative Giving

Celebrate the legacy of a loved one or special trailblazer from your congregation or denomination by starting a scholarship or gift in his or her name.