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Columbia Seminary trustees elevate Dr. Ralph Basui Watkins to full professor

He’s the first African American male full professor and endowed chair in the seminary’s nearly 200-year history

by Columbia Theological Seminary | Special to Presbyterian News Service

Dr. Ralph Basui Watkins

DECATUR, Georgia — On June 15, the Columbia Theological Seminary Board of Trustees unanimously approved the promotion of Dr. Ralph Basui Watkins to full professor.

Previously, Watkins was the first African American male to be installed in an endowed chair when he was named the Peachtree Chair of Evangelism and Church Growth on October 2, 2019, according to a seminary news release.

“Dr. Watkins is committed to leading the church into the future while not forgetting or abandoning its historical roots. He is committed to helping the church lead what he calls ‘fully digitally integrated lives’ that embrace both the old and the new,” says Dr. Love Sechrest, dean of Academic Affairs at Columbia Seminary. “His writing and work have been focused on leading the church into the digital age with a focus on reaching young adults.”

“I am deeply honored be a part of this great faculty and I especially thank our President, Dr. Leanne Van Dyk, for her leadership,” Watkins said. “Dr. Van Dyk, along with the leadership of the school have supported me and my work from day one and were committed to supporting my promotion. With her leadership, it happened. I am honored to be a part of a world-class faculty, and I am fortunate to serve with each of them.”

Watkins is a regular preacher and workshop leader for churches, denomination bodies and presbyteries across the United States. He has more than 25 years of pastoral ministry experience, most recently serving as the senior pastor of the Historic Wheat Street Baptist Church in Atlanta.

Watkins is considered a national leader in digital and online teaching and learning and has led national workshops on the topic of teaching in the visual age. Watkins’ forthcoming book from Judson Press is “The Fully Digitally Integrated Ministry: Integrating the Old and the New.” He was the executive producer and host of the television show “Religion Roundtable with Dr. Ralph Basui Watkins” on the Atlanta Interfaith Broadcasting Network, where his show was the top-rated show on the network for five years.

He is also a leader with the Louisville Institute, where he mentors doctoral students. He is on the board of the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion, where he writes a monthly vlog/blog, leads workshops and mentors junior faculty.

It was under the leadership of the late Columbia Seminary President Dr. Steve Hayner and retired Dean Deb Mullen that Watkins was brought to CTS from Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, California. While at Fuller Watkins was the assistant dean for African American Church Studies and associate professor for Society, Religion and African Studies.

To learn more about Watkins’ work, click here.

About Columbia Theological Seminary  

Columbia Theological Seminary exists to cultivate faithful leaders for God’s changing world. Columbia Seminary is a community of theological inquiry, leadership development, and formation for ministry in the service of the Church and the world. Columbia offers six masters and doctoral degree programs, and opportunities for continuing education through The Center for Lifelong Learning. For more information, click here.   

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