About Us

Shaw University - School of Divinity logo
Thomas J Boyd Chapel

About the Academy

Shaw University Divinity School has received a grant of $1 Million Dollars from Lilly Endowment Inc., to help establish the Black Church Leadership Academy. SUDS launch for BCLA is to support the thriving and revitalization of Black Baptist congregations in North Carolina, and the broader Black Church, regionally and nationally. The aim of the national initiative is to strengthen Christian congregations so they can help people deepen their relationships with God, build strong relationships with each other and contribute to the flourishing of local communities and the world. The program will help awaken the deep spiritual and prophetic roots of the Black Baptist Church for effective and transformative ministry for the present and future generations.

Pro Christo
et Humanitate

About Lilly Endowment Inc.

Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by J.K Lilly Sr. and sons Eli and J.K. Jr. through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly & Company. Although the gifts of stock remain a financial bedrock of the Endowment, it is a separate entity from the company, with a distinct governing board, staff and location. In keeping the founders’ wishes, the Endowment exists to support the causes of religion, education and community development. The Endowment funds significant programs throughout the United States, especially in the field of religion. However, it maintains a special commitment to its hometown, Indianapolis and home state, Indiana. The principal aim of the Endowment’s grantmaking in the religion is to deepen and enrich the lives of Christians in the United States, primarily by seeking out and supporting efforts that enhance the vitality of congregations and strengthen their pastoral and lay leadership.

Through a meaningful engagement with a cohort of congregations and learning opportunities, the Initiative will help equip and train leaders in congregations to strengthen ministries and foster stronger relationships with God and others in a changing world.

Visionary Leadership

Dr. Joe Stevenson - Shaw University - Director of Black Church Leadership Academy

Dr. Joe Stevenson

Executive Director

Dr. Meadows holds the Doctor of Philosophy, Master of Sacred Theology, and Master of Divinity in systematic theology from Union Theological Seminary in The City of New York, where he was a student and research assistant of the late James H. Cone.

Dr. Meadows’ research interests include the life and ministry of Martin Luther King, Jr., the history of the Civil Rights era, Black church studies, and Black religion.

Charisma Haynes

Program Coordinator

maybe add a quote here?

Charisma Haynes - Black Church Leadership Academy

Ms. Charisma Haynes

Program Coordinator

Born in New Jersey and raised in Maryland, Charisma Destiny Haynes has a passion for community outreach and engagement. Her professional career started at THE Winston-Salem State University, where she majored in Political Science with a concentration in Public Administration and Public Policy. While at WSSU, Charisma participated in the Fees & Tuition Committee, Homecoming Committee, and assisted in connecting alumni to campus resources and extended learning opportunities. Additionally, she was involved with The ACEY Group, part of the Winston-Salem Foundation’s Women’s Fund, as well as worked at State Employees Credit Union Family House, MLK Building the Dream Award Nominee, and was an active member of Black Women for Change. Serving as President of Black Women for Change for two years, she conducted several special projects such as monthly clean-ups on and off campus, community service opportunities, panel discussions, mentoring and hosted events, including a breast cancer awareness forum and fitness, health, and wellness sessions with instructors.

Upon graduating from WSSU, Charisma continued her passion for community outreach and engagement by volunteering locally within the Raleigh-Durham Triangle Area and working at Boys and Girls Clubs of Orange and Durham County and Habitat for Humanity of Durham. Outside of her persistent community outreach and engagement, Charisma enjoys the outdoors, fitness and health, attending professional development workshops, and networking. Her love for helping others, the community, and fitness and health inspired her to create her business, “Destined Sea Moss.” The purpose of my business is to motivate others to challenge themselves and to live a healthier lifestyle, mentally, physically, and spiritually.

As the Program Coordinator, for the Black Church Leadership Academy of Shaw University Divinity School, Charisma’s goals are to provide administrative support, including congregational engagement, student support, planning, writing, and organizing meetings, programs, and conferences as needed.

She hopes her passion for leadership and community engagement and outreach not only for Black churches but also HBCUs will impact all demographics.

In addition to instilling a sense of ownership through leadership training, we are also engaging leaders and congregations in traditions that have inspired leadership and legacy within the Black Church.

Focus Groups, Lay Formation Training, Public Dialogue

There is a need to facilitate a statewide campaign to engage in dialogue, education, and training of both pastors and laity, community leaders, and denominational officials for continuous thriving and vitality. Of course, there are many thriving congregations across the astate of North Carolina. What might we learn from them and how may struggling congregations glean from shared communal wisdom? With this Initiative, Shaw University Divinity School has the capacity to manage and facilitate such a statewide conversation to help the Church understand these rapidly changing realities and invite collective wisdom that leads to evermore thriving and flourishing congregations.

Along with surveys and critical research, the Initiative will hold a series of focus groups, public dialogues, and discussion on the emerging trends and shifts happening in North American Protestantism and what it means for local Church ministry. Over the past several years, Shaw University Divinity School has engaged in numerous focus groups and dialogues with pastors, lay leaders, alumni, faculty, students, and the broader community. The purpose of these gatherings was to reflect deeply on the activity of God present in the life of the Church today, and ways in which theological education may serve the needs of the Church in this ever- changing landscape. What emerged out of these conversations was the need to expand the dialogue to the pews, among congregations that are searching for answers on how to bridge the generational and digital divides, attend to questions of Church growth, spiritual formation, and social witness amid systemic and structural issues in their communities.

The Initiative seeks to equip and empower congregations around social change and to engage millennials in shaping the future of the Black Church, with implications for the broader Christian Church globally. The Initiative will engage congregations to provide the space for adult learners, lay leaders, and communities of faith to explore strategies for effective ministry. Here, the Initiative will promote stronger relationships with God and others. We aim to identify vital resources that can inform theological education and ministry in the broader network of Christian ministry around the world.

This initiative will not only build on the previous focus groups, but also facilitate public dialogues, forums, and panel discussions to invite shared learnings for congregational vitality. The Black Church has always been a place of refuge and strength and seeks to reimagine what it means to be a congregation in virtual spaces. Will this moment forever change the contours of the Black Church? What does it mean for how congregations engage in spiritual care for each other and their communities? These are the sorts of questions, along with those embedded in the hearts congregations that will guide the conversations and learnings.

These objectives are designed to advance the strategic objectives of the Lilly Thriving Congregations Initiative by focusing on sustainable, measurable, and concrete actions to develop robust ecclesiological practices for transformative Christian witness in their local communities and beyond.

  • Founded on the motto, Pro Christo et Humanitate, “For Christ and Humanity,”
  • Through a meaningful engagement with a cohort of congregations and learning opportunities, the Initiative will help equip and train leaders in congregations to strengthen ministries and foster stronger relationships with God and others in a changing world.
  • Shaw University Divinity School is accredited by the Association of Theological Schools to award the Master of Divinity and Master of Arts in Christian Education degrees. The Divinity School offers A Distance Education Degree in both programs.
  • In addition to instilling a sense of ownership through leadership training, we are also engaging leaders and congregations in traditions that have inspired leadership and legacy within the Black Church.

Long Term Goals

  • Help Black Baptist congregations in North Carolina thrive by mining the rich theological and cultural beliefs and practices of the Black Church to inform renewed vitality and effective ministries.
  • Establish a learning cohort of 12 congregations to be shared broadly in consultation with member congregations of the General Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.
  • Increase awareness in Baptist congregations of their rich ecclesiological traditions and practices that deepen their awareness of God’s presence and Spirit.
  • Position Shaw University Divinity School as a regional and national center for support and resources for the thriving of Black Baptist Church congregations.

Short Term Goals

  • Increase the percentage of Black Baptist Church congregations with identifiable strategies and practices for building a thriving congregation.
  • Increase the number of Black Baptist Church congregations with trained pastoral and lay- leadership with expertise in ecclesiology and the Black Church.
  • Introduce congregations in the state of North Carolina to sustainable models that promote the flourishing of healthy Black Church congregations.
  • Increase awareness in the Black Church regionally around spirituality, social justice, cultural differences, and the global Christian experience.

We believe addressing the goals described above will promote and support congregational thriving. Our desire is to help congregations thrive by educating and empowering pastors and lay leaders with skills and resources to thrive beyond the present circumstances. Our approach is intended to build congregational capacity and independence. This initiative closely aligns with Shaw University Divinity School’s