The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song

February 25 at 7 p.m.

Seo the black church

The Center for Black Church Studies hosts a panel reflection on the two-part PBS series,The Black Church: This Is Our Story: This Is Our Song. This moving four-hour, two-part series traces the 400-year-old story of the Black church in America, all the way down to its bedrock role as the site of African American survival and grace, organizing and resilience, thriving and testifying, autonomy and freedom, solidarity and speaking truth to power. The documentary reveals how Black people have worshipped and, through their spiritual journeys, improvised ways to bring their faith traditions from Africa to the New World, while translating them into a form of Christianity that was not only truly their own, but a redemptive force for a nation whose original sin was found in their ancestors’ enslavement across the Middle Passage.

Note: Please watch the film on your local PBS affiliate channel or online at The Black Church | PBS. The film premieres on Tuesday, February 16 and Tuesday, February 17 at 9 p.m. EST.


Yolanda Pierce
Yolanda Pierce

Rev. Dr. Yolanda Pierce is professor and dean of the Howard University School of Divinity in Washington, DC. She is the first woman to be appointed as dean in the divinity school’s 150-year history. In 2016, Pierce served as the founding director of the Center for African American Religious Life at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). Previously, she served as the founding director of the Center for Black Church Studies and associate professor of religion and literature at Princeton Theological Seminary. Pierce holds degrees from Cornell University and Princeton University.

In addition to her teaching and academic scholarship, Pierce is a dedicated mentor, community activist, board member of a foster care agency, and cable news commentator. She maintains a public intellectual presence through her blogs and frequent appearances on television and radio. She believes that teaching and scholarship are meaningful only if they truly enhance people’s daily lives, thus she works tirelessly to bridge the gaps between pulpit, pew, and academy. A member of Alpha Kappa Alpha, Sorority, Inc., and a native New Yorker, Pierce was raised in the Church of God in Christ and still maintains a close connection to her Pentecostal roots.

For more information, please visit Rev. Dr. Yolanda Pierce's website.

Anthony Pinn
Anthony Pinn

Anthony B. Pinn received his PhD from Harvard University in 1994. Other degrees include the BA from Columbia University, the MDiv and MA, both from Harvard, and an honorary doctorate degree from Meadville-Lombard Theological School. Pinn began his teaching career at Macalester College (St. Paul, Minnesota), where his research and teaching earned him early tenure and promotion to full professor within the first eight years of his career. In 2003, Pinn accepted an offer from Rice University (Houston, Texas), becoming the first African American to hold an endowed chair at Rice University. After an additional semester at Macalester and a semester at Williams College as the Sterling Brown 1922 Visiting Professor, Pinn joined the Rice faculty as the Agnes Cullen Arnold Professor of Humanities and Professor of Religious Studies at Rice University. While at Rice, Pinn founded and directed the Houston Enriches Rice Education (HERE) project (2007-2012). During the summer of 2012, Pinn received approval to transform the HERE Project into the Center for Engaged Research and Collaborative Learning. This center is a part of the Rice University Kinder Institute for Urban Research. Pinn also founded and directs the doctoral concentration in the study of African American Religion at Rice. Outside Rice, Pinn has served as the first executive director of the Society for the Study of Black Religion, and he also served on the Meadville Lombard Theological School Board of Trustees (2007-2012). In addition, he has served in various roles on the board of directors and the executive committee of the American Academy of Religion. He is also the director of research for the Institute for Humanist Studies Think Tank (Washington, DC).

Pinn made his initial mark on the academy with Why, Lord?: Suffering and Evil in Black Theology (1995), galvanizing Pinn as an African American humanist and solidifying African American humanism as a historic, non-theistic religious orientation for African Americans. In this text, Pinn finds that Black theologians have no evidence to support the notion that God is working on behalf of the oppressed, and any theological position that claims such is based on redemptive suffering theodicies that perpetuate African American suffering. For Pinn, human liberation is more important than the maintenance of any religious symbol, including God. Pinn offers African American humanism as a strategy for “liberation” that does not make Black suffering virtuous.

For more information, please visit Anthony Pinn Online.

Delman Coates
Delman Coates

Rev. Delman Coates is a graduate of Morehouse College (BA in religion, 1995), Harvard Divinity School (Master of Divinity, 1998), and Columbia University (Master of Philosophy in religion, 2002; PhD in New Testament and early Christianity, 2006).

Coates' published articles include "And the Bible Says: Methodological Tyranny of Biblical Fundamentalism and Historical Criticism" in Blow the Trumpet in Zion (2004), "Towards a Progressive Christian Interpretive Praxis" in The African American Pulpit (2004), and "Origen of Alexandria" in Union Seminary Quarterly Review (vol. 59:3-4, 2005). Coates wrote a piece titled “The New Abolitionism: Monetary Reform and the Future of Civil Rights,” which is in the book Mr. President: Interfaith Perspectives on the Historic Presidency of Barack H. Obama (2017). Among his published sermons include “From Proclamation to Protest” (The African American Pulpit, July 2008) and “Race Still Matters” (TAAP, 2009).

Coates has served as the senior pastor of Mt. Ennon Baptist Church in Clinton, Maryland since 2004. During this time, the congregation has grown to 9,000 members. Coates has initiated and revitalized ministries, expanded the church's ministry campus and land holdings, and incorporated the Mt. Ennon Development Corporation (MEDC). In October 2009, Outreach Magazine named Mt. Ennon as one of the 100 Fastest Growing Congregations in the U.S.

For more information, please visit No Limits with Pastor Delman (delmancoates.org).


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