In his classic book "The Souls of Black Folk," W.E.B. DuBois wrote, "The Negro church of today is the social center of Negro life in the United States and the most characteristic expression of African character." This statement was made over a century ago, but some would argue that the same is true today. Writing for "Charisma" magazine, author Adrienne S. Gaines notes that, given the complex problems of today's world, "the black church is being called to a new level of leadership." African-Americans have often sought strength and unity through their spiritual communities, and a number of historically black bible colleges are well-equipped to train the community's next generation of spiritual leaders.
Opened in 1943 in Atlanta, Georgia, Carver College's motto is "Training to Transform." According to the college's website, "The training Carver students receive first transforms their own hearts and then equips them to go train and transform the hearts of others." Currently, the college offers one major -- biblical studies -- and a number of minors, including Christian education, counseling, missions, pastoral ministries, systematic theology, women’s ministry, and practical training and evangelism. Carver has applied to the Association for Biblical Higher Education to offer a bachelor's degree in psychology. Students may also participate in missionary trips to various international destinations, such as Kenya, South Africa or the Caribbean.
Payne Theological Seminary
Incorporated in 1894, Payne is one of the oldest African-American seminaries in the U.S., and its mission is "to prepare men and women of faith to be spiritual leaders, intellectual leaders, and agents of constructive social change in the church and world." Located in Wilberforce, Ohio, Payne's primary focus is graduate education, offering Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees. Although Payne does not issue bachelor's degrees, it does provide certificate programs through its Ministers’ Theological Institute and Lay School of Theology.
John C. Smith Seminary
Located near Morehouse College, Spelman College, and Morris Brown College, Smith Seminary is situated in the "world’s largest center of historically African-American higher education." It is also the only African-American bible college associated with the Presbyterian Church in the U.S. Smith offers a variety of graduate degrees -- Master of Divinity, Master of Arts in Christian education, Master of Arts in church music, Doctor of Ministry and Doctor of Theology in pastoral counseling.
Founded in Alabama in 1878, Selma seeks to "stimulate its students spiritually, intellectually and socially and to produce graduates who are servant leaders in their churches, communities and chosen areas of vocation." Like most Bible colleges, it offers degrees that prepare students for ministry, but it also offers bible-centered bachelor's degrees in other areas, including biology and physical education and business administration. Selma University's admissions policy is "open door," so any high school graduate with a 2.0 GPA is eligible. A GED is also acceptable for admission, and college admissions tests are not required.
- Carver College: About Carver College
- W.E.B. DuBois: The Souls of Black Folk: Chapter 10: Faith of Our Fathers
- Adrienne S. Gaines: Charisma Magazine: The Black Church and the 21st Century
- Payne Theological Seminary: About
- John C. Smith Seminary: About
- Selma University: Welcome to Selma University
- Carver College: Advancement
- Carver College: Academic Programs at a Glance
- Payne Theological Seminary: Academics
Based in Sedona, AZ, Nicole E. Dean has two decades of intensive experience as a writer, editor, educator and book coach. She is a regular contributor to "BrainWorld" magazine and created the blog Mystic@theMovies. She also taught college writing for 11 years and holds a master's degree in English literature.