Build up the body of Christ. Support the Pentecost Offering.

Columbia Theological Seminary will hold Thompson Scholars seminar next spring

Participants can make a difference in the future of the African American church

by Columbia Theological Seminary | Special to Presbyterian News Service

The Rev. Dr. Ralph Basui Watkins (Contributed photo)

DECATUR, Georgia — “Seeing the Future of the African American Church in the Rainbow: The Birth of a Movementis the focus for the Thompson Scholars seminar to be held on the campus of Columbia Theological Seminary April 25-28, 2023, in Decatur, Georgia.

Registration for the seminar is open to those who want to influence the future of the African American church through radical inclusiveness of the LGBTQ community. The seminar will foster a dialogue with mainline African American congregations and our LGBTQ siblings in Christ.

Seminar leaders and participants will reflect on how to develop a dialogue with mainline African American congregations to birth a transformative movement of the church into a radically inclusive faith community. The leadership team includes Bishop Yvette Flunder, Bishop-Elect Sonya Williamsthe Rev. Dr. Horace Griffin and the Rev. Dr. Ralph Basui Watkins.

Watkins serves as the Peachtree Professor of Evangelism and Church Growth at Columbia Theological Seminary. He is researching and documenting the seminar topic through visual storytelling during his current sabbatical. An art exhibit featuring his work will be held in the Harrington Center on campus during the spring of 2023.

As Watkins explains in his artist statement about the project:

“At the very core of the Gospel is the liberation of all who are oppressed. The work is founded on a commitment to freeing the African American church from heterosexism, homophobia and transphobia. It calls for the African American church to affirm and celebrate that all of God’s people are created in the image of God. That all people have the God-given right to be included in the life of the church as their authentic selves. This work challenges the mainline, traditional African American church to look, hear, and engage in an active conversation that leads to liberation and radical inclusion. The African American church is challenged to live up to its claim of being a liberative church that fights on the side of the oppressed.

The $175 program fee covers all course-related costs, seven on-campus meals during the event, refreshments and access to the online course site. Participants are asked to read and reflect on a curated list of books before the seminar. Participants are also responsible for their housing and transportation; on-campus housing is available for an additional cost. Visit the registration page for complete information.

The Thompson Scholars program is supported by an endowment in honor of Cecil Thompson, former professor of evangelism at Columbia. The fund allows the seminar to be offered at a lower cost to participants than comparable programs at the Center for Lifelong Learning.

For a complete list of Center for Lifelong Learning courses and program offerings, visit

About Columbia Theological Seminary

Columbia Theological Seminary was founded in 1828 and is an educational institution of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The seminary is led by Rev. Dr. Victor Aloyo. It’s committed to educate, equip, and nurture students to become a new generation of pastoral leaders for the church and the world; to become a community that embodies welcome, hospitality, justice, and belonging; to build partnerships that bring vibrant spiritual, cultural, and academic exchanges; and to embrace boldness, enabling us to learn, teach, serve, and live joyfully. Learn more here.

Creative_Commons-BYNCNDYou may freely reuse and distribute this article in its entirety for non-commercial purposes in any medium. Please include author attribution, photography credits, and a link to the original article. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDeratives 4.0 International License.

  • Subscribe to the PC(USA) News

  • Interested in receiving either of the PC(USA) newsletters in your inbox?

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.