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The Gift Collaborative

The concept of transformation through convergence of Historically Black Theological Schools (HBTS) and Historically Black Churches (HBC) began at a 2017 Samuel Dewitt Proctor School of Theology meeting where participants discussed the origins of these two historic institutions. This discussion was later articulated in a white paper authored by Dr. John Kinney Why Black Seminarians Need Black Seminaries. Dr. Kinney challenged the leaders “to think outside the box”. In 2019, Dr. Corey Walker was engaged to examine the history and research of leaders of the Black historic church. A concept to actualize Drs. Kinney and Walker’s work created a “convergence” opportunity and was presented to the Lilly Endowment in December 2019. The Endowment invited a proposal and awarded a grant for development in 2020. Through this award The Collaborative intends to realign these sacred institutions in its vision to reinvigorate, increase and build new relationships and increase the acumen of leaders to attend to the needed transformation.


Research findings from 2021 evidenced HBTS and HBC leadership’s commitment and passion about learning what convergence will do for the church and therefore the wider Black community, a process that began in 2016.  Although no monetary compensation or incentive was provided, the HBTI Presidents and Deans and Denomination Leaders set aside their time to consistently engage in meetings, conferences, and interviews. In addition, over the previous six-year period academy and denominational leaders have requested and received governance training, coaching, conflict resolution assistance, and transition management. Further, HBTS and HBC leaders will make joint presentations at The Collaborative’s upcoming April 2022 Institute. Their joint efforts and dedication to this work, clearly show that the leaders view convergence between HBTS’s and HBC’s as imperative.


Dr. Walker’s research revealed that several prominent Black pastors including The Reverends, Benjamin Mays, Gayraud Wilmore, James Cone, Howard Washington Thurman, and Alton Pollard among many others, adamantly viewed Black theology and social justice as inter-related. The Social Gospel, The National Conference of Black Churchmen, Black Liberation Theology, The Institute of the Black World, The National Council of Churches, The Society for the Study of Black Religion, and The Institute of the Black World 21st all merge(d) theology and church ministry when addressing race-based disparities. However, even though Black clergy members, Black social justice movements, and Black organizations devoted time to Black theological discussion and Black church programs, none developed a convergence model between HBTS’s and HBC’s. The Collaborative Module research findings 2021 (consistent with the Emerging Generation Dialogue and the recently released Barna study) indicated Black people’s expectation that together HBTS’s and HBC’s will address challenges and issues facing Black communities. The Collaborative’s members are committed to the development of a Black academy and Black church convergence model. The Gift Collaborative is building capacity to advance its operational, programmatic, financial, and organizational development.

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