Society for the Study of Black Religion


Welcome to SSBR!



Society for the Study of

Black Religion

44th Annual Meeting

Marriott, Renaissance Center

Detroit, MI

April 3-5, 2014

Situated in downtown Detroit, on the Detroit River, the Marriott Hotel in this corporate center offers stunning views of Windsor Canada, seen here just across the water; access to historic sites and cultural attractions, such as the Charles H. Wright African American History Museum  -  largest collection in the world; dining, shopping; a relaxing Riverwalk; the Hart Plaza, with its moving monument to the flight to Canada by those escaping slavery; and many other rich amenities that this great, tri-centennial city has to offer.


 Member News

                               In Memoriam

              The Rt. Rev. Thomas Lanier Hoyt, Ph.D.




Bishop Thomas L. Hoyt, Jr., an early member of the Society for the Study of Black Religion, was the Senior Bishop and 48th Bishop of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church.  Bishop  Hoyt was the first of the two bishops elected in the 1994 General Conference held in Memphis, TN. He came to the Episcopal office as a preacher and distinguished scholar in theological education.
Bishop Hoyt was born March 14, 1941 to Reverend Thomas L. Hoyt, Sr. and Ida Wells Hoyt in Fayette, AL. His academic training is both thorough and extensive. He earned the BA degree from Lane College, Jackson, TN in 1962, the M.Div. degree from Phillips School of Theology of The Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, GA, the S.T.M. degree from the Union Theological Seminary in New York in 1967, and the Ph.D. degree from Duke University, Durham, NC in 1975. He was awarded the Doctor of Divinity degree from Trinity College in 1994. His ministry included pastoral service of several CME churches inNorth Carolina and New York and more than twenty years as a professor of theology. He has served as Assistant Professor of New Testament at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, GA, the School of Religion at Howard University in Washington, D.C., and Professor of New Testament and Director, Black Ministries Certificate Program at Hartford Seminary in Hartfort, CT.
He wrote more than thirty-five articles for professional journals and publications, and shared in group projects that resulted in published books, including the influential Stony the Road We Trod: An African American Biblical Interpretation. Ed. by Cain Hope Felder (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1992). Bishop Hoyt's most renown lectures were the Lyman Beecher Lectures at Yale Divinity School in 1993, one of the oldest and most prestigious lectureships in the academic community. 
Awards and Honors bestowed on Bishop Hoyt are numerous, including a visit to Pope John Paul II with a delegation from the National Council of Churches, delegate to the World Council of Churches in Porto Alegre, Brazil, in 1987, and CME representative at the World Council of Churches meeting on Faith and Order at Santiago De Compstela, Spain, in 1993.
Upon his election to the Episcopacy, he was assigned to the Fourth Episcopal District. He was the Chair of the Department of Lay Activities of the CME Church and was the Chair of the 125th CME Church Anniversary Celebration Committee. Bishop Hoyt was assigned to the Seventh Episcopal District at the 2006 General Conference.
He is survived by his wife of 50 years, Ocie (nee Oden) Hoyt, and two children, Doria and Thomas, III.

Plaudits and Kudos to our esteemed SSBR President, Dr. Emilie M. Townes, who has assumed the post of  Dean of the Vanderlbilt University Divinty School! Long a distinguished scholar, administrator, clergyperson, and seminal, matriarchal figure in the development of Womanist Theology, Dr. Townes accepts this post as a "calling" and an opportunity to fulfill deeply-held vocational commitments.  The Vanderbilt News  issued this laudatory statement:

Emilie Townes named dean of Vanderbilt Divinity School


Emilie Townes

Emilie Townes (Yale University)

Emilie M. Townes, a distinguished Yale University scholar and administrator whose areas of expertise include Christian ethics and womanist theology, has been named dean of Vanderbilt University Divinity School, effective July 1, 2013.

Townes, an ordained American Baptist clergywoman, succeeds James Hudnut-Beumler, who will take a year’s sabbatical after serving as the school’s dean since 2000.

Townes, the 16th dean of Vanderbilt Divinity School, has been appointed to a five-year term, according to Richard McCarty, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs. She will also hold an endowed chair as a tenured faculty member.

“Emilie Townes is an amazing scholar, a wonderful mentor to students, and a leader in theological education,” McCarty said.  "Her impact as dean will be felt in the Divinity School and across the university as well as nationally and internationally. ”


And the honors keep rolling . . .

Dr. Evelyn Parker named Dean at Perkins.

Evelyn Parker, Associate Professor of Practical Theology, Perkins School of Theology, SMU

SSBR member Dr. Parker, an innovative scholar in the fields of Christian Education and Adolescent Spirituality, has been appointed to a five-year term as Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University. Dr. Parker began her new position on June 1, 2013




 Dr. Joanne M. Braxton

And we share with you also that Dr. Joanne M. Braxton has been appointed as a Visiting Lecturer at the Starr King School for the Ministry in Berkeley, California for the 2013-14 Academic Year.

Congratulations Dr. Braxton!


Research.  Among its many other entries, our Research link takes you to material on "Pinkster," a Dutch-derived Pentecost festival transformed by enslaved blacks in the US Northeast into a major holiday of African-influenced music, dancing, and feasting. - one of the clearest yet lesser known examples of African religio/cultural survivals in  North America.


First Book Grant for Minority Scholars

Grants of up to $40,000 enable junior religion scholars of color to complete a major research project necessary to secure tenure.


Eligible applicants must have an earned Ph.D. or Th.D. and be:

  • members of a racial/ethnic minority group
  • a pre-tenured faculty member in a full-time, tenure-track position at an accredited institution of higher education (seminary, college or university) in the United States or Canada
  • able to negotiate a full academic year free from teaching and committee responsibilities
  • engaged in a scholarly research project leading to the publication of their first (or second) book that will benefit the church in North America


The Louisville Institute seeks to enrich the religious life of North American Christians and to encourage the strengthening of their institutions, by bringing together those who lead religious institutions with those who study them, so that the work of each might inform and strengthen the work of the other.


The Institute supports religious leaders and academics through Grantmaking and Fellowships in Theological Education.


 Employment opportunities. The Employment Notices link contains multiple postings of position openings, across many fields.


Our mission is to engage in scholarly research and discussion about the religious experiences of Blacks.

Read more about our rich history...