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Golden Gate faculty approve M.Div. with African American concentration

MILL VALLEY, Calif. (BP)–The faculty of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in Mill Valley, Calif., have approved a new master of divinity concentration in African American studies to better equip students for leadership in predominantly African American churches and communities.
The concentration, the first of its kind in Southern Baptist Convention seminaries, was developed by Leroy Gainey, associate professor of Christian education and intercultural studies and pastor of the multicultural First Baptist Church, Vacaville, Calif.
“It is the challenge for seminaries in the 21st century to prepare men and women to meet the needs of a vastly diverse and global ministry environment,” Gainey said. “Diverse populations have diverse needs and specific goals require specific training.”
Gainey, who in 1987 became the first African American elected to an SBC seminary faculty, said the new concentration has three important priorities:
— Academic excellence. “This will be a rigorous academic program designed to guide students into a comprehensive understanding of the Christian faith in its biblical, theological and historical dimensions.”
— Social relevance. “Students will be involved in an ongoing process of gathering and interpreting research data from African American ministry fields and formulating ministry strategies that address current issues in the African American community and church.”
— Ministry effectiveness. “Graduates of the program will practice effective skills of leadership in an African American ministry setting and minister effectively and productively through preaching, music and worship.”
Seminary President William O. Crews affirmed the work of Gainey and other seminary faculty in helping to provide students with education that prepares them for the “multicultural realities they will face” in ministry.
“Any Christian leader who is serious about ministry in the 21st century should recognize the diversity that is part of God’s kingdom,” Crews said. “And any student who wants to be part of what God is doing around the world today will have to be able to relate to multiple cultures regardless of where they serve.”
“This represents a profound step in Golden Gate’s immediate future to ensure academic excellence and Christian leadership for an ethically diverse student population and church community,” said Marcus “Goodie” Goodloe, youth minister at Oakland’s Allen Temple Baptist Church and a graduate of the seminary now serving as a recruiting specialist for Golden Gate.
In addition to Gainey, several prominent African American Baptist leaders will teach regularly in the program, including Emmanuel McCall Sr., former Southern Baptist Home Mission Board executive now serving as founding pastor of Christian Fellowship Baptist Church in the Atlanta area, and Sid Smith, director of the Florida Baptist Convention’s African American ministries division and former manager of the SBC Sunday School Board’s black church development section.
Gainey said he developed the concentration with four distinctives in mind to make it beneficial for students at Golden Gate:
— Focused. “It addresses the particular needs of current and future leaders in the African American church.”
— Practical. “It provides useful ministry tools geared toward specific concerns in the African American church.”
— Relevant. “It is in touch with what is happening today in the larger community of the African American church.”
— Current. “Faculty and adjuncts are active in ministry and proven in their ability to care for and lead the people of God.”
Students can satisfy the requirements for the concentration by completing 20 semester hours in addition to the core courses for the master of divinity degree.
Courses required in the concentration are: Scriptural Interpretation: The Contribution of Black Traditions; African American Preaching; Understanding Worship in Black Traditions; Growth Oriented Sunday School in the Black Community; Race and Reconciliation.
Electives in the concentration may be chosen from the following: History of Black Baptists in America; Cultural Models of Church Planting; Ethnic Southern Baptist History; Global Cultures: Worldview; Intercultural Education; The City: Habitat for Humanity; Islam.
“Degrees such as this seek to bring remedies to changing communities,” Gainey said, “by equipping leaders with tools, insight, understanding and sensitivity to be productive in the intercultural, primarily urban setting.”
For more information about the concentration, contact Gainey at (415) 380-1542.

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  • Cameron Crabtree