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Black Theology and Leadership Institute

About the Black Theology and Leadership Institute

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BTLI 2014 graphicThe Black Theology and Leadership Institute is a weeklong intensive continuing education event for clergy and laity for training, worship, and fellowship. The institute is designed for clergy and lay leaders who would like to deepen their thinking and preaching by learning from preeminent scholars of theology and religion. All are urged to apply, including those who may not have formal theological training. This year's theme is Liberating Theologies: Social Justice in the Black Church Today. The Institute is limited to 50 fellows. Apply today.

Fellows will have a week to think deeply about theology and leadership through robust academics and thoughtful discernment. The demanding schedule includes:

  • In-depth Orientation of the week
  • Plenaries on key theological doctrines on social justice
  • A one-day immersion on Leadership
  • Access to Princeton Seminary’s world-renowned libraries and generous study time
  • Daily Q&A
  • Guided discussions in cohort groups
  • Worship and intimate mentorship experiences

Particular to the Black Theology and Leadership Institute is an emphasis on direct mentorship from outstanding church, civic, and academic experts. Time will be set aside for one-on-one appointments as well as deliberate moments in the schedule for networking and fellowship.


VBridgeman2014 BTLI

Valerie Bridgeman is President & CEO of WomanPreach! Inc. and 2014 Distinguished Visiting Associate Professor in Preaching and Hebrew Bible at Methodist Theological School in Ohio. Theologian-in-Residence

Leslie Callahan BTLI

Leslie D. Callahan is the first female pastor of historic St. Paul's Baptist Church, in Philadelphia, PA. Prior to her installation at St. Paul's she served on the faculty of New York Theological Seminary (NYTS) as Assistant Professor of Modern Church History and African American Studies.


Leslie Dowdell Cannon is Senior Associate Minister at historic Peoples Congregational United Church of Christ in Washington, DC, where she has served since 1997. Dedication to both the pulpit and the community have been two cornerstones of Rev. Dowdell-Cannon’s career.


Greg C. Ellison Assistant Professor of Pastoral Care and Counseling at Candler School of Theology, Emory University. His current research focuses on caring for marginalized populations, pastoral care as social activism, and 20th and 21st century mysticism. He is the author of recently released, Cut Dead But Still Alive: Caring for African American Young Men. Faculty

Stacey Floyd-Thomas photo

Stacey Floyd-Thomas is the Associate Professor of Ethics and Society at Vanderbilt University Divinity School and College of Arts and Sciences and Executive Director of both the Society of Christian Ethics (SCE) and the nationally-acclaimed Black Religious Scholars Group (BRSG) and serves as co-founder of the Society for the Study of Race, Ethnicity and Religion (SRER). Faculty


Walter Earl Fluker is the Martin Luther King, Jr. Professor of Ethical Leadership and the editor of the Howard Thurman Papers Project at Boston University School of Theology. Prior to this, he was founding executive director of the Leadership Center and the Coca-Cola Professor of Leadership Studies at Morehouse College. Faculty

Yvette Flunder

Yvette Flunder is founder and Senior Pastor of the City of Refuge UCC and Presiding Bishop of The Fellowship, a multi-denominational fellowship of 56 primarily African American Christian churches. She is the author of "Where the Edge Gathers: A Theology and Homiletic of Radical Inclusion." Faculty

John W. Kinney Leader pic

John W. Kinney is Dean of the School of Theology and Professor of Theology at Virginia Union University. He also serves as pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, Beaverdam, VA. Additionally, he has served as Assistant Professor of Theology-Chicago Theological Seminary; adjunct faculty at Randolph Macon College, Ashland, VA; Union Theological Seminary, Richmond, VA and the College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA. Faculty


Tony McNeill is Minister of Worship & The Arts at Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church (Atlanta, GA). Prior this appointment, he was Guest Lecturer in choral music at Appalachian State University. He has served on the Advisory Board for the National Religious Music Week Association and as a member of the Community Advisory Board for the Community School of the Arts of Charlotte. Artist-in-Residence

Pierce2014 BTLI

Yolanda Pierce is the Director of Black Church Studies and Associate Professor of African American Religion and Literature at Princeton Theological Seminary. She is the author of Hell Without Fires: Slavery, Christianity & the African American Spiritual Narrative, and a forthcoming book titled “Religious Ecstasy & African American Cultural Expression.”  Convener

BTLI Powell

Bernice Powell Jackson is Pastor of First United Church of Tampa and serves as president of the North American region of the World Council of Churches. She served on the United Church of Christ (UCC) national staff for nearly two decades. She was the founding Executive Minister of Justice and Witness Ministries and served as one of five officers of the denomination. Pastor/Preacher-in-Residence

Raynard Smith 2 BTLIRaynard Smith is Associate Professor of Pastoral Care at New Brunswick Theological Seminary. Dr. Smith is an ordained minister in the Church of God in Christ. He serves as associate minister and coordinator of children's church ministries at Greater Harvest Evangelistic Church of God in Christ in Newark. Theologian-in-Residence

Simeon Spencer 2014Simeon Spencer is the Senior Pastor of Union Baptist Church in Trenton, New Jersey, where he has served for twelve years. He led Union in founding Trenton HOPE, a community development corporation whose work focuses on the revitalization of the capital city. He returns to BTLI for the second time. Theologian-in-Residence

Walton 2014 BTLI

Jonathan L. Walton is Plummer Professor of Christian Morals and Pusey Minister in the Memorial Church (FAS) and Professor of Religion and Society (HDS) at Harvard University. His research addresses the intersections of religion, politics, and media culture. 2014 Betsey Stockton Lecturer on Theology of Leadership



The fee for 2014 Black Theology and Leadership Institute is $1200.00, which includes program, meals, and lodging. On-campus residence is required during the duration in the Institute. Participants should make their travel arrangements to arrive on Saturday, July 12 and depart on Saturday, July 19.

Partial scholarships are available. Please inquire about scholarships at btli@ptsem.edu.

Application Process

Admissions for BTLI is currently closed. Please check back in January 2015.

The Black Theology and Leadership Institute is currently limited to fifty applicants who meet the selection criteria.

Attendance at the Black Theology and Leadership Institute requires an application and letter of introduction. The application is due on Friday, April 4, 2014 and decisions will be made and emailed by Friday, May 2, 2014. Registration is subject to the Seminary’s Registration and Cancellation Policy.

Applicants must complete a Letter of Introduction and Application:

Please submit by email at btli@ptsem.edu (preferable) or by mail to:
BTLI Application
Princeton Theological Seminary
School of Christian Vocation Mission
20 Library Place
Princeton, NJ 08540 

The application and letter of introduction are due on Friday, April 4, 2014. Decisions will be made and emailed by Friday, May 2, 2014.

For more information or for questions, please contact:
Sushama Austin-Connor
Program Director, Black Theology and Theology Leadership Institute (BTLI)
(e) btli@ptsem.edu
(p) 609-497-7990
(f) 609-497-0709

To download a program overview, please click here.

BTLI 2014 graphic (b)