Southwest announces 2022-23 BRSG Scholar-in-Residence


The Rev. Dr. Stephen G. Ray Jr. with serve in position created by partnership between Seminary of the Southwest and Black Religious Scholars Group

Seminary of the Southwest and the Black Religious Scholars Group, Inc. (BRSG) announce that Rev. Dr. Stephen G. Ray Jr. will be the Crump Visiting Professor and Black Religious Scholars Group Scholar-in-Residence for the 2022-2023 academic year at Seminary of the Southwest. Ray will be the fifth visiting scholar as part of the partnership between Southwest and BRSG that began in the 2018-19 academic year. 

“I am so excited to join the community at the Seminary of the Southwest as the BRSG Visiting Professor for the 2022-23 Academic Year,” said Ray. “The opportunity to work with the fine students and faculty there fills me with anticipation. Exploring the genius and creativity of the Black Church traditions as a source of hope with them during these turbulent times is a gift.”

Each year this program identifies, prepares, and supports a Black religious scholar to serve a one-year term as Crump Visiting Professor and Black Religious Scholars Group Scholar-in-Residence. Teaching required courses and electives and contributing to community life and worship, this scholar joins with the faculty in formation of leaders to lead conversations across boundaries of race and ethnicity.

“I am excited to welcome Dr. Ray to our campus for the 2022-2023 academic year,” said Dr. Scott Bader-Saye, Academic Dean. “His gifts as a scholar, teacher, and leader will enhance our community, and his expertise in Black theology will challenge and enrich our students. In addition, his fall class on ‘Theology and the Climate Emergency’ will help students engage one of the most pressing global crises of our time. As a lauded senior scholar, he not only brings years of classroom experience but also insights gained from leadership in the church and the academy. I am looking forward to the conversations our faculty and students will have as we learn from Dr. Ray in the coming year.”

“At the culmination of our most meaningful partnership with Seminary of the Southwest, we are truly excited that the fruit of our shared labor is best represented in the unanimous support for and the announcement of the Rev. Dr. Stephen G. Ray as the 2022-23 Crump Visiting Professor and BRSG scholar-in-residence,” said Dr. Stacey M. Floyd-Thomas, Executive Director of BRSG. “Dr. Ray has been a visionary and invaluable asset in not only the BRSG itself but also across the landscape of theological education and interdenominational religious leadership writ large. His legacy as both an erudite scholar and public intellectual has been well-known in the prescient concerns about the future of religious witness in the quest for social justice. We firmly believe his presence at SSW will engage students and scholars alike in leading conversations about and providing resources for religious literacy in civil dialogue, liberating theology, and social transformation. He will not just continue the work well facilitated by his predecessors in this role but will expand upon it in ways that will have significance for the administration, academics and advocacy that this partnership champions.”

Rev. Dr. Stephen G. Ray Jr. recently retired as the 13th President of Chicago Theological Seminary (a seminary related to the United Church of Christ). He is the Immediate Past President of the Society for the Study of Black Religion. An ordained minister of the United Church of Christ, Ray has served as the pastor of Imani Fellowship Community Church (UCC) in Hartford, The Black Church at Yale in New Haven, CT., Plymouth Congregational Church (UCC) in Louisville, Kentucky, and as assistant minister at Faith Congregational Church in Hartford, CT.

Prior to taking this leadership role at CTS he held the Neal F. and Ila A. Fisher Chair of Theology and is Professor of Systematic Theology at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. In addition, he is the immediate past President of the Society for the Study of Black Religion.

Dr. Ray is the author of several works including: A Struggle from the Start: The Black Community of Hartford, 1639-1960 and Do No Harm: Social Sin and Christian Responsibility. In addition to his own monographs he is co-author of Black Church Studies: An Introduction; editor of the 20th Anniversary Edition of We Have Been Believers: An African-American Systematic Theology; co-editor of Awake to the Moment: Introduction to Theology; and a contributor to several other books.

Dr. Ray held teaching appointments at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary as the Neal A. and Ila F. Fisher Professor of Theology, the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia as Associate Professor of African-American Studies and Director of the Urban Theological Institute at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, and at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary as Associate Professor of Theology and Philosophy. In addition, he served as Lecturer  at Yale Divinity School and the Hartford Seminary.

Dr. Ray received his Ph.D. in Theology and African-American Studies from Yale University, M.Div. (summa cum laude) from the Yale Divinity School, and a Certificate from the Hartford Seminary Black Ministries Certificate Program. Among his recognitions are a Doctor of Divinity from the United Lutheran Seminary; 2018 Distinguished Alumni of Yale Divinity School; Charter Oak State College Distinguished Alumni Award; Kentuckiana Metroversity, Distinguished Teacher of Adult Learners, and the 2006 Associated Church Press Award of Excellence for Column.

The previous four Crump Visiting Professors and Black Religious Scholars Group Scholars-in-Residence were the Rev. Melanie Jones (2018-19), the Rev. Cheryl Kirk-Duggan, Ph.D. (2019-20), the Rev. Yolanda Norton (2020-21), and the Rev. Brandon Crowley, Ph.D. (2021-22).