Centers and Institutes

Reverend Dr. Reginald Blount Named Director of the Center for the Church and the Black Experience

Rev. Dr. Reginald Blount

Reverend. Dr. Reginald Blount (G-ETS 2005), an esteemed colleague and longstanding faculty member of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, has been named director of the Center for the Church and the Black Experience (CBE), effective July 1, 2022. A leading center of Garrett-Evangelical, CBE was founded in 1970 and has empowered and trained generations of Black leaders for the church and society-at-large. Blount, who served as interim director for CBE in the mid-2000s, is the 11th director of CBE, following Mr. Taurean J. Webb who has accepted an appointment at Indiana University, Bloomington.

Instituted in 1970 as one of the primary emphases of the seminary, CBE has been a beacon of hope and inspiration for Black students, pastors, churches, and communities for nearly five decades. It has been instrumental in fusing Black people and Black religious life into the entire seminary community. As director, Blount seeks to address the unique challenges facing Black students—across the diaspora—while educating and inspiring all persons who live, work, and study at the seminary.

“We find ourselves at a defining moment where we need institutes like the Center for the Church in the Black Experience to nurture theologically rooted leaders called to discern the signs of the times, cast vision, and collaboratively and strategically address issues related to the wellbeing and thriving of the Church and society,” Blount said. “There is also much to learn when the Black experience is centered in this formative work. I am grateful for the opportunity to embrace the 50+ year legacy of CBE and build on the leadership and gifts offered by previous directors in nurturing the next generation of ‘leaders of leaders.’”

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

“I am so grateful that Dr. Reggie Blount is willing to step into this leadership role at this critical moment in Garrett’s institutional life,” said President Javier A. Viera. “Dr. Blount is a visionary and spiritually grounded person of faith. He is a highly respected member of our community, a strategic thinker who leverages his many professional connections for the good of Garrett, and who has the stature in so many community, ecclesial, philanthropic, non-profit, and guild spaces to ensure that the CBE remains a high profile and innovative center. I know that the center will thrive, and the seminary will continue to benefit greatly from his leadership, and I look forward to the close partnership we will have in advancing the mission and work of the Center for the Church and the Black Experience.” 

Blount officially joined the faculty in 2006 but served as adjunct professor and instructor from 1997 to 2006. Today, he serves as the Murray H. Leiffer Associate Professor of Formation, Leadership and Culture. 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. He speaks and teaches nationally and internationally helping faith communities envision new and creative ways to minister to, with and on behalf of young people, engage in transformative Christian Education and foster congregational and community renewal.

In addition to his teaching responsibilities, Blount serves as the director of the “Holy Yearning, Holy Listening, Holy Partnerships” project, established in 2017 at Garrett-Evangelical. This project was formed out of the Lilly Endowment’s Young Adult Initiative, which aims to help congregations develop and strengthen congregational ministries that build relationships with young adults, nurture their religious lives, and foster their engagement with religious communities.

An ordained elder and pastor of Arnett Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church in the Morgan Park neighborhood of Chicago, Blount has been a leader in the formation of Freedom Schools both in Evanston and Morgan Park. Blount and his faculty colleague, Rev. Dr. Virginia Lee, cofounded the Garrett-Evanston Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools Program in 2016. In addition, they served as editors for the book, Let Your Light Shine: Mobilizing for Justice with Children and Youth (Friendship Press Inc., 2019).

He has contributed numerous articles and chapters over the course of his career. Of particular note, Blount served as contributor to the CEB Student Bible (Common English Bible) along with his daughter Deborah Ayanna, that was published in 2015. He wrote discussions for the books of Joel and James, which includes questions, activities, and “Reading Differently” exercises for youth groups and small groups.

Blount received his bachelor of science degree in chemical engineering from Tuskegee University (1984) and his master of divinity degree from Candler School of Theology at Emory University (1995). He earned his doctor of philosophy from the Garrett-Evangelical/Northwestern University joint program in religious and theological studies, focusing on the areas of Christian education and youth ministry (2005).