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Lisa L. Thompson

Associate Professor and the Cornelius Vanderbilt Chair of Black Homiletics and Liturgics
On leave Spring 2023

Dr. Lisa L. Thompson, a native of Cedar Grove, NC, is Associate Professor and the Cornelius Vanderbilt Chair of Black Homiletics and Liturgics at the Divinity School and Graduate Department of Religion.

As a leader in scholarship that values intellectual rigor and concerns of faith, she holds a Doctor of Philosophy and a Master of Arts in Religion from Vanderbilt University.  She prioritizes discussing the ways religion can be used for the destruction or uplift of our life together. Her current book projects are entitled Ingenuity: Preaching as the Outsider (Fall 2018) and Preaching the Headlines (Fall 2022).  Ingenuity mines the preaching practices of black women for the sake of re-thinking theologies and methods of preaching as a whole. The book is a hallmark of the Black Womanist Homiletic that spans her work. Preaching the Headlines is based on a course she created and has taught since 2012 across multiple academic and non-academic contexts. The project engages the intersection of social and religious discourses for the purpose of helping communities address everyday life issues as matters of faith, while oriented towards a just earth. The Louisville Institute awarded her a First Book Grant for Minority Scholars for the project.   

As an extension of her commitment to some of the most underrepresented and vulnerable populations in our world, she worked in case management for programs affiliated with the Department of Juvenile Justice and Alternative to Corrections for Women in North Carolina  before pursuing the study of theology and religion full time. She majored in both Psychology and Communication Studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She continues to consult, speak, and lead workshops on self-leadership and cultural change in the public and private sectors. As an ordained Baptist minister, she holds a Master of Divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary, and has served in university and parish settings.

Prior to joining VDS she held posts as Assistant Professor of Homiletics at Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York, Assistant Professor of Homiletics at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Lilly Faculty Fellow at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, Illinois. Thompson has served as the president of the Black Caucus of the Academy of Homiletics, serves on the Advisory Board of Wabash Center for Teaching Religion and Theology, and is a nominating member of the Association of Practical Theology. 

Through her teaching, service, and scholarship, Lisa L. Thompson prioritizes concrete outcomes as a reflection of the traditions and values we claim to believe. 

Select Courses

Womanist Proclamation Theology and the Arts

Proclamation and Black Experiences

Bodies Power and the Pulpit    |     Preaching the Headlines

Voice Imagination and Sacred Utterances 

Fundamentals of Preaching    |    Homiletic Theory and Methods

Homiletic Pedagogy


Select Publications

Ingenuity: Preaching as the Outsider. (Nashville: Abingdon, 2018). 

“Unauthorized: Prophetic and Pastoral Utterances on the Ground,” in Preaching Prophetic Care. Phillis-Isabella. Sheppard, Dawn Ottoni-Wilhelm, & Ronald J. Allen, eds. (Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock, 2018).

“In Search of Our Mothers’ Healings: Holistic Wellbeing, Black Women, and Preaching.” Homiletic. vol.41 no. 1, 2016.

“’Now that’s Preaching!’: Disruptive and Generative Preaching Practices.” Practical Matters Journal. vol. 2 no. 8, 2015.