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BRSG Consultation

Twentieth Annual Black Religious Scholars Group Consultation
November 17, 2017

BRSG logo 2 The guiding vision of the Black Religious Scholars Group (BRSG) is to sponsor consultations and speaking series for the edification of the liberating theology and witness of the Black Church tradition within the academy, church and wider Black community.

Our annual public forums across North America at welcoming congregations continue the process of exploring ways in which meaningful dialogue and partnership can occur between Black religious scholars and the larger Black community and its churches for the well-being and advancement of both our people and communities.

The BRSG is committed to creating dialogues that forge bonds of communication for partnership and innovation between Black peoples.  Central to our vision, is the conviction that dialogue and collaboration among scholars, churches and community activist organizations is essential for cultivating transformative debates and promoting social justice.  Each year the BRSG consultation promotes an open conversation that will be held in collaboration with Black religious scholars, clergy, and community leaders and engage directly with the general public in our host city as a precursor to the American Academy of Religion / Society of Biblical Literature (AAR / SBL) annual meeting. Since our founding over a decade ago, we have had the great privilege to recognize some of the finest scholars in Black religion such as J. Deotis Roberts, Henry and Ella Mitchell, James H. Cone, Peter Paris, Jacquelyn Grant, Katie G. Cannon, Vincent Harding, Delores S. Williams, Robert M. Franklin, Cheryl Townsend Gilkes, Gayraud S. Wilmore, Cornel West, Renita J. Weems, Walter E. Fluker, M. Shawn Copeland,Emilie Townes, Luther E. Smith, Jr., and Cheryl Kirk-Duggan, Jeremiah A Wright Jr., Michael Eric Dyson, James A. Forbes, Jr., Randall C. Bailey, Teresa Fry Brown, Kelly Brown Douglas, and James H. Evans, Jr.  as our annual honorees.

During the twentieth annual consultation, the Black Religious Scholars Group will honor Rev. Dr. Cheryl J. Sanders and Rev. Dr. John W. Kinney.

2017 BRSG Honorees

 Cheryl SandersRev. Dr. Cheryl J. Sanders

 Dr. Cheryl J. Sanders is Senior Pastor of the Third Street Church of God in Washington, D.C. and Professor of Christian Ethics at the Howard University School of Divinity. She has published more than 100 articles, sermons and several books, including: Ministry at the Margins; Saints in Exile; Empowerment Ethics for a Liberated People; and an edited volume, Living the Intersection.

Her current research analyzes the impact of gentrification on black urban congregations. She has lectured at universities, colleges, seminaries and institutes throughout the U.S., and is in constant demand as a guest preacher at churches and conferences.

Dr. Sanders is a graduate of the Sidwell Friends School, Swarthmore College (B.A. in Mathematics) and Harvard Divinity School (M.Div., cum laude and Th.D. in Applied Theology). She is the recipient of honorary Doctor of Divinity degrees from Asbury University and Anderson University. Her civic leadership roles include chairing the Washington, D.C. Mayor's Interfaith Council from 2002 to 2004. She recently completed a four-year term as Vice-Chair of the General Assembly and the Ministries Council of the Church of God (Anderson, Indiana). 


John KinneyRev. Dr. John W. Kinney

Dr. John W. Kinney has devoted himself to the pursuit of excellence in theological training and ministerial preparation and has distinguished himself as a systematic theologian, academician and administrator in a career that spans over 35 years. He received undergraduate and graduate degrees from Marshall University aqnd Virginia Union University. He was awarded the Ph.D. from Columbia University/Union Theological Seminary. He has also shared in instruction at Chicago Theological Seminary, Randolph Macon College, Union Theological Seminary, and the College of William and Maryia. 

Dr. Kinney has lectured extensively across the breadth of this nation and in Africa. He has been a featured lecturer at numerous Universities and colleges. He is recognized for his theological constructions addressing the designed harmony in creation and the subsequent fragmentation and separation with particular attention to racism, sexism and materialism. His thoughts are included in several publications and crystallized in Baptists against Racism in an article entitled The Theology of Fallenness: The Roots of Racism.

Dr. Kinney’s commitment to the needs of the community at large is apparent by his avid participation in several professional societies and organizations. Dr. Kinney has served as a consultant to the American Baptist Convention, the Progressive National Baptist Convention, the Baptist General Convention of Virginia and both the United States Air Force, Army and Navy Chaplain Corps. He has been a member of the American Society of Church History, the American Academy of Religion and the Society for the Study of Black Religion. He has served the larger community of theological educators through multiple leadership roles in the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada. Dr. Kinney chaired the committee on Race and Ethnicity from 1998 to 2000. He served as a member on the Commission on Accrediting for the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada from 2000 to 2006 and actively continued as Commission Chair (2004-2006), Vice President (2006-2008), President (2008-2010) and Personnel Committee Chair (2010-2012). 

His service to academia is complimented by his service to the parish. Dr. Kinney has served as the pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Beaverdam, Virginia for more than 35 years.

2017 Council of Griots

Walter Fluker

Rev. Dr. Walter E. Fluker, Moderator

Martin Luther King, Jr. Professor of Ethical Leadership at Boston University School of Theology 

Leslie Callahan

Rev. Dr. Leslie D. Callahan

Senior Pastor of St. Paul’s Baptist Church

Raphael Warnock

Rev. Dr. Raphael G. Warnock

Senior Pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church

Jay Williams

Rev. Dr.  Jay Williams

Lead Pastor of GLIDE Memorial United Methodist Church

Host Institution

Boston University School of Theology Logo

Boston Univesity School of Theology is preparing leaders who are pursuing a wide range of vocations – parish ministry, conflict transformation, chaplaincy, campus ministry, administration, non-profit management, social work, the teaching profession, justice advocacy, peacemaking, interfaith dialogue, and more.

A seminary of The United Methodist Church, Boston University School of Theology is also a robustly ecumenical institution that welcomes students from diverse faith traditions. We combine a 175-year heritage of academic distinction with the flexibility to lead the reshaping of global religious life. Our renowned faculty will help you craft a curriculum to nurture your academic goals and realize whatever ministry you imagine.

Host Church

Union Church

Union is a progressive, multicultural faith community in Boston with a 200-year history and commitment to Christian love, social justice, and radical hospitality. We are an urban and LGBTQ-affirming church that strives to be a spiritual home and church family for all people. Our Africana celebration-style worship is dynamic and fresh, inspiring the Union community to make a substantial difference in the world around us.



Location and Time

Union Church
485 Columbus Avenue
Boston, MA 02118

7:00 pm - 10:00 pm

Contact Information:

Black Religious Scholars Group
Vanderbilt University Divinity School
411 21st Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37240