Centers and Institutes

“This is Only the Beginning”

Dotson Institute Officially Launches with Successful Inaugural Event in Atlanta

For there is still a vision for the appointed time; the vision speaks and does not lie. If it seems to tarry, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not delay. (Hab. 2:3)

What started as a decades-long dream of the Reverend Dr. Cynthia A. Wilson (G-ETS 2013) became a reality on August 17 through 20 as the Junius B. Dotson Institute for Music and Worship in the Black Church & Beyond (JBD Institute) celebrated its inaugural event in Atlanta, Georgia.

Nearly 100 Black pastors, musicians, and local church leaders from across the country came together for three days of training, networking, and professional development. Seminars spanning from topics such as post-pandemic worship planning to audio and video training to the liturgical movement were led by 24 renowned professionals in their respective fields.

“We were honored to have twenty-first-century leaders of congregational song, such as Dr. Diana Sanchez-Bushong; designers of worship, like Minister Monya Logan; liturgical dance sage, Dr. Kathleen Turner; distinguished academicians and practitioners in homiletics and biblical scholarship, such as Dr. Derek Weber and Dr. Renita Weems; and other stellar faculty leaders from a myriad of denominations and cultural contexts across the United States and beyond,” said Wilson, founder and director of the JBD Institute.

Announced in February 2022, the JBD Institute is organizationally situated within Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary’s Center for the Church and the Black Experience (CBE) and was formed in partnership with Discipleship Ministries, which supported the Institute with a $500,000 grant.

Reverend Jeff Campbell, general secretary of Discipleship Ministries, attended the inaugural event and exclaimed:

“What a blessing to attend and be a part of the inaugural event of the Junius B. Dotson Institute! Discipleship Ministries staff looks forward to supporting future events as we inspire, train, and resource current and future worship leaders globally. It was amazing to see the dreams and visions of this Institute become reality.”

A one-of-a kind-institute, the JBD Institute honors the late Reverend Junius B. Dotson, a nationally recognized pastor, speaker, and author who served as the general secretary of Discipleship Ministries of The United Methodist Church. Its mission is to train music and worship leaders in the area of sacred music and worship while creating an archive of music and scholarship that promotes and preserves Black Church music and its history. The inaugural event was the first of many future events and trainings that will be held around the United States.

“The Junius B. Dotson Institute Inaugural Celebration was truly a soul-stirring spiritual experience”

Said Reverend Dr. Reginald Blount (G-ETS 2006), director of CBE and Murray H. Leiffer Associate Professor of Formation, Leadership, and Culture at Garrett-Evangelical. “I am so excited that this one-of-a-kind global institute will be an integral part and vital partner in the ongoing work of the Center for the Church and the Black Experience.”

The inaugural event culminated in a celebration concert featuring Richard Smallwood and his group, Vision, along with Wilson with the JBD Institute’s Children’s and Choral Ensembles and Dance Ministry. More than 800 people were in attendance at Saint Philip AME Church for a night of “Total Praise!”

Some of the songs highlighted by the JBD Institute Ensembles and Dance Ministry throughout the night included “See What the Lord Has Done,” “Speak the Name,” and “When Sunday Comes,” while Smallwood and Vision sang selections, such as “Anthem of Praise,” “Trust Me,” and “Total Praise.” Interspersed throughout the evening were tributes of those who have paved the way for the work of the Institute. Those honored were Reverend Junius B. Dotson, Reverend Dr. Ruth C. Duck, Dr. Melva Wilson Costen, and Reverend Dr. William B. McClain.“

The inaugural JBD Institute was an inspirational and transformative experience. I would highly recommend worship leaders, laity, and clergy who are seeking to be empowered to attend the next event,” said Reverend Dr. Mike Bowie, national executive director of Strengthening the Black Church for the 21st Century and JDB Institute faculty member.

“For over five decades, I have sought to articulate this vision. In the words of my father, the Reverend Eli Wilson, ‘When God gives the vision, you can count on the provision.’ It is because of the support and collaboration of Discipleship Ministries and Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary that JBD Institute will continue to provide training, mentoring, and enrichment for leaders for the 21st century in contextual worship and sacred musics born out of Africana Church traditions,” said Wilson.

“And this is only the beginning.”

One can learn more about the JBD Institute at Garrett.edu/DotsonInstitute. The next event will take place in Evanston, Illinois, in February 2023. The JBD Institute is also available to local churches for leadership training in music and worship. Please e-mail jbd.institute@garrett.edu for more information.