Center for African American Theological Studies

The Center for African American Theological Studies (CAATS) offers accredited masters-level courses in partnership with the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary and Payne Theological Seminary.  CAATS courses emphasize contextual theological education grounded in the values, traditions and experiences that root and shape African American communities.

Through engagement with African and African American professors, histories, and cultural-theological perspectives, CAATS seeks to empower ministers, civic leaders, activists, and laity to pursue justice in the heart of the city.

CAATS partners with seminaries, universities, and African American congregations to empower church and community leaders with critical tools to positively impact the spiritual, moral, and socio-economic realities of people living in the the urban and global village.

CAATS offers two programs:CAATS Graduating Class

Masters of Divinity:

– Prepares students for ordained or lay leadership
– Immerses students in African and African American cultural and religious traditions
– Concentrates on urban ministry, prophetic leadership, and social justice

Nurturing the Call – Certificate Program:

– One year certificate program of practical theological education
– For lay and church leaders who are interested in urban ministry


Center for African American Thelogical Studies

“Building on the Black Church’s tradition of self-determination the Center for African American Theological Studies (CAATS) seeks to provide the academic and cultural tools that ministers need to become informed pastors and leaders capable of revitalizing their churches and communities. An African-centered understanding of one’s sociological and theological reality empowers leaders to address the individual and systemic forces which prevent Africans throughout the diaspora from achieving the abundant life which God intended. It is vital that we take control of the curricula, the methods, and the environments in which our leaders are trained.”

- Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright,
Pastor Emeritus, Trinity United Church of Christ, Chicago

For more information OR to register for classes please contact our Registrar, Dody Finch at 312-626-1215 or email

Center for African American Theological Studies

Admission to CAATS

There are three categories of students who typically apply to the CAATS program:

1)     Students who have completed their Bachelor’s degree and who are seeking a culturally relevant Master of Divinity program
2)     Students who have not yet earned a Bachelor’s degree, but whose academic ability and ministry participation may qualify them for admission under the seminary’s 10 percent rule, which allows admission to a limited number of non-BA students
3)     Students seeking to transfer into CAATS from other seminaries


Master of Divinity Degree
Students interested in enrolling in the Master of Divinity program can choose to receive their degree through one of the following three theological institutions:

  • Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary (Evanston, IL)
  • Payne Theological Seminary (Wilberforce, Ohio)
  • The Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University (Richmond, Virginia)

Students admitted into the CAATS Master of Divinity program choose one of the three above schools from which they will receive their degree. Students then take 14 classes (approximately half the master of divinity degree) through the CAATS program in Chicago. After completing these 14 courses, students then complete the remaining half of their degree at the seminary from which they chose to receive their master of divinity degree. For the two seminaries located out of state (i.e. Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary and Payne Theological Seminary) students will travel to these seminaries two or three times a year to complete intensive courses in the fulfillment of their degree requirements.

For more information please contact Marcus Tabb, CAATS recruiter, at or 312-626-1209.


Nurturing the Call – Certificate Program
Students who do not have a Bachelor’s degree and have not been admitted into the Master of Divinity program may choose to enroll in the Nurturing the Call (NTC) certificate program. NTC is a one-year certificate program in urban ministry designed to prepare students for lay ministry and help them both discern their call and determine whether or not to pursue a graduate theological degree. Students interested in the certificate program are not required to have a Bachelor’s degree to be admitted. Often, students with a Bachelor’s degree, and in some cases students with a Master’s or doctoral degree, may choose to enroll in the certificate program while they discern God’s call for their life and ministry.

Students who have successfully completed the Nurturing the Call certificate program will be reconsidered for admission into the Master of Divinity program the following year. Once students complete the five required classes for the certificate program they can choose to take up to three master’s level courses before formally enrolling in the Master of Divinity program. These three classes will be applied towards the student’s master’s degree upon their admission into the Master of Divinity program.

For more information please contact Marcus Tabb, CAATS recruiter, at or 312-626-1209.

The Center for African American Theological Studies

(Towards fulfillment of a M. Div. degree through our partnerships with the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, and Payne Theological Seminary)

To register for any of the below courses, please contact Dody Finch,
Registrar at the SCUPE office, (312) 626-1215,

2015 Courses

Introduction to Theology; Theo 320
This course explores the Western philosophical and theological foundations that undergird major Christian beliefs and modern interpretations of the Christian faith as well as exposure to liberation theologies that have arisen in North American, Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
Faculty: Dr. Howard Wiley
Credit: 3 semester hours
January 12—March 30, 2015; Mondays, 6:15 p.m. to 9:15 p.m.

New Testament Survey; Bib 303
This introductory course examines the New Testament texts while emphasizing the savvy and subversive ways African Americans have appropriated these texts within colonial and pos-colonial contexts in America
Faculty: Dr. Nolan Shaw
Credit: 3 semester hours
January 14—March 18, 2015; Wednesdays, 6:15 p.m. to 9:15 p.m.

History of Christianity: An African Story; Hist 310
This course focuses on the period early Christianity to 1960, and reveals African agency in the formation of Christian traditions and African Christian initiatives under the hegemonic tendencies of Western colonial Christianity.
Faculty: Dr. David Daniels and Dr. Isaac Laudarji
Credit: 3 semester hours
January 15—March 19, 2015; Thursdays, 6:15 p.m. to 9:15 p.m.

Proctor Conference Course; Eth 431
An advanced theology course, this class will require students to attend the annual Samuel D. Proctor Conference. The content of the course will be built on conference sessions and speakers, who are among the top African American pastors, preachers, and seminary professors representing a range of denominations, ministries, and theological perspectives. Students will discuss how they connect with social ethics and impact the practice of ministry.
Faculty: TBA
Credit: 3 semester hours
February 9 – 12, 2015
Note: All conference expenses (registration, airfare, hotel and meals are not included on course tuition and are responsibility of the student)

For more information OR to register for classes please contact our Registrar, Dody Finch at 312-626-1215 or email

Brenda Agahahowa – Coming soon.

Dr. Afri A. Atiba currently serves as adjunct faculty in the Philosophy department at Triton College in River Grove, Illinois, where she teaches Ethics, Intro to Philosophy, and World Religions. She earned her undergraduate degree at Columbia College of Chicago, a Master of Divinity from McCormick Theological Seminary, and a Doctor of Ministry from Chicago Theological Seminary.  Her professional paper thesis, “Bridging the Gap: Biblical Interpretation from the Academy to the African American Church” analyzes the implications of critical biblical interpretation for liberation and justice in the African American community.

Her interest in comparative religions has led her to participate yearly in the “Summer Seminar on Buddhism: Merging Academics and Practice” hosted by the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.  Atiba joined the SCUPE’s Center for African American Theological Studies’ teaching staff in 2006, teaching such courses as Egypt and the Bible, and Critical Bible for Faith and Practice.  She is currently working on “This Ain’t Sunday School: Bible Study that will Set you Free,” a book intended to set youth on a path of biblical interpretation that would answer some of their questions that would normally silence them in the church. Afri has a passion for teaching, and as an ordained minister in the Pentecostal tradition she has served and taught in every area of the church.

Dr. Lee Butler, Jr. is an African-American pastoral theologian.  He is currently a Professor of Theology and Psychology at Chicago Theological Seminary in Chicago, Illinois.  He received his B.A. from Bucknell University. He has a M.Div. from Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary, a Th.M. from Princeton Theological Seminary, as well as a M.Phil and a Ph.D. from Drew University.

His primary research emphasis is on African-American identity formation.  He explores African indigenous religions; American slavocracy, religiosity and spirituality; Black and Womanist theologies, and Black psychology, health and healing.

He is also the author of three books: Loving Home: Caring for African American Marriage and Family (Pilgrim Press, 2000); Liberating our Dignity, Saving Our Souls (Chalice Press, 2006); and Listen, My Son: Wisdom to Help African American Fathers (Abingdon Press, 2010).

Dr. Butler says, “Pastoral care and counseling is one of the places within theological education where the preparation and practice of ministry are experienced as embodying processes. The clearer one is about one’s own being, the more effective one will be as a caregiver and counselor. My purpose and task, therefore, is to help seminarians develop a ministerial identity through the reconciliation of personhood and experience, and to minister to the whole being as I prepare persons for ministries of care and counseling.  If theological education does not engage the seminarian’s reformational and transformational needs, I fail to fulfill my calling to prepare persons for ministry in a world in need of the reforming and transforming power of God.”

Rev. Dr. Danielle J. Buhuro is currently a Supervisory Candidate in Clinical Pastoral Education and Staff Chaplain in the Mission and Spiritual Care Department at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois. Previously, Dr. Buhuro was a supervisory candidate at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital and a staff chaplain at Mercy Hospital, Chicago.

Dr. Buhuro received her B.A. in English at Chicago State University.  She earned a Master of Divinity degree and a Doctor of Ministry degree in Religion and Health from Chicago Theological Seminary.  She is ordained Baptist with Privilege of Call standing in the United Church of Christ.  Dr. Buhuro has published articles and has teaching experience in Pastoral Care, African-centered Psychology and Group Dynamics and Family Systems Theory in Congregational-based Settings.  Dr. Buhuro is committed to her faith, family and issues of fairness.

Dr. David D. Daniels III currently serves as Henry Winters Luce Professor of World Christianity at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, Illinois.  He received his B.A. from Bowdoin College, majoring in religion and economics, a Master of Divinity from Yale University, and a Ph.D. in Church History from Union Theological Seminary.

Dr. Daniels has been a member of the American Academy of Religion since 1989, the Society for the Study of Black Religion since 1993 and the Society for Pentecostal Studies since 1979.  He is a member of the steering committee of the Evangelical Theology Group and Afro-American History Group of the American Academy of Religion.  He is also a member of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches and Pentecostal International Dialogue.  Dr. Daniels has served as commissioner for the Faith and Order Commission of the National Council of Churches U.S. A. and has participated on consultations sponsored by the National council of Churches in the United States and the World Council of Churches in United States and Costa Rica.

Dr. Daniels is author of various articles on the history of Christianity and book reviews published in Theological Education in Pneuma, Christianity Century, Encyclopedia of African American Religions, and A Sourcebook for the Community of Religions.  He serves on the editorial committee of a new history of World Christianity project funded by Orbis Press.

Dr. Daniels has been an ordained minister in the Church of God in Christ since 1980.

For nearly 40 years, the Reverend Dr. Yvonne V. Delk, has been a strong ally in the fight for human and civil rights for people of color, children and the poor. Today, she remains a clear, prolific and moral voice in search of justice and equality for the oppressed within the U.S. interfaith community.

In 1990, Rev. Delk became the first woman and first African American executive director of the Community Renewal Society (CRS), a faith-based Chicago metropolitan area mission agency. Founded in 1882 as the Chicago City Missionary Society, an agency related to the United Church of Christ (UCC), the Community Renewal Society works to empower people to dismantle racism and poverty in order to build just communities.

From 1981 to 1990, Rev. Delk was executive director of the United Church of Christ’s Office of Church in Society, an organization that seeks to connect biblical teachings with current social issues. In 1974, she became the first African American woman to be ordained in the UCC. In 1989, she became the first woman to be nominated as a candidate for the Office of President of the United Church of Christ.

A native of Norfolk, VA., she received her undergraduate degree is sociology from Norfolk State University in 1961; a master’s degree in Religious Education from Andover Newton Theological School in 1963; and in 1978, she earned a doctorate in Ministry from New York Theological Seminary. Dr. Delk has served as a visiting professor and has taught courses in Urban Ministry, Black Church Education and the United Church Christ Polity and History at Harvard Divinity School in Cambridge, MA.; Virginia Union University’s Proctor School of Theology in Richmond, VA; and the Seminary Consortium for Urban Pastoral Education in Chicago, IL.

As an interfaith leader and prolific speaker Rev. Delk’s work and experience has led her abroad to five continents, having taught and lectured in many countries. An author and essayist, her published works and sermons include: “Books for Children (Colloquy, UCC, 1969)” “Educational Resources for Black Churches (Spectrum July/August 1971),” “New Road to Faith: Black Perspectives in Education (United Church Press, 1979),” “Do You Love Me? (Judson Press, 1985),” “Meditation on Psalm 137:1, The Churches’ Search for Justice and Peace in Southern Africa (Commission for Racial Justice, 1987),” “A Moment in Turning (Sojourners, 1992)” and “Sanctuary Is More Than Architecture (Sojourners, 1993),” among others.

Dr. Delk is a recipient of numerous awards and honors and serves on a number of boards and committees. She has served as the chair of the Program to Combat Racism in the program unit of the World Council of Churches. She serves on the Board of Directors of Franklinton Center and the Steering Committee of the Covenant Academy for Urban Ministry in the United Church of Christ.

Rev. Michelle Hughes received her Master of Divinity from Chicago Theological Seminary.  She believes in the power of a contemporary gospel that addresses the urban life.  She offers years of experience in pastoral care, community organization, and non-profit endeavors. She recently served as the first woman to lead, as Interim Pastor, the historic Congregational Church of Park Manor. Prior to her Interim assignment, Rev. Hughes served Elmhurst College as Associate Chaplain and as faculty for the Chicago Semester.

In her secular ministry, Rev. Hughes has provided consultant services to the Chicago Board of Education, the Illinois Department of Human Services, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, University of Illinois Hospital, the Children’s Place Association, and the Chicago Housing Authority. She has served as project director for the state wide faith based organization, PROTESTANTS FOR THE COMMON GOOD, as well as worked for the City of Chicago Mayor’s Office and the National Rainbow Coalition.

A seasoned trainer, Rev. Hughes, founded Hughes & Associates Consulting, which specializes in pre-employment and personal development training.  Her education, life experience and effective communication skills have provided her with a unique vantage point from which to assist individuals and organizations in achieving their personal and organizational objectives.

Rev. Hughes is also the founder of Diaspora Spirit, a women’s group dedicated to connecting women of the African Diaspora in the Chicago land area. In 2004, Rev. Hughes was recognized by the Illinois State Treasurer, and received the “Woman to Woman – Making a Difference Award”.  She is also listed in the 2004-05 editions of Marquis “Who’s Who of American Women”.

Her first book her book: NiNi’s Awesome Tales, written under the pen name of “RevyRev”, weaves the moral lessons at the core of her faith with the whimsy of fables and the grit of urban life. Told in rhyme to an “old school beat”, this project speaks to young spirits of all ages.

Rev. is a long time resident of Chicago’s Park Manor community and is the mother of two young adults, Nia and Joshua.

Dr. Isaac B. Laudarji earned his Ph.D. in Religion at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois after completing a Master degree in New Testament Biblical Studies at Wheaton College and a Bachelor degree in Theology at the ECWA Theological Seminary Igbaja in Nigeria. Upon completion of his doctoral work at Northwestern University, Laudarji worked for a year with the Social Science Research Center at the University of Illinois in Chicago, where he was involved in the study of Religion in Urban America. That research project produced a book edited by Lowell Livezey, Religion, Ethnicity and Urbanization in an American City (New York: New York University Press, 2000) in which Laudarji co-authored a chapter.

A Nigerian native, Laudarji returned to Nigeria after his doctoral work in the United States and served as an urban pastor in Kano, Nigeria with the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA). During his service in Kano, one of the major cities in Northern Nigeria, he also taught in the Religion Department of the Federal College of Education. Since returning to the United States in 2006, Laudarji has been involved in ministry with ethnic immigrants in different cities as part of an urban initiative by ECWA in the United States. He has also participated in conferences and seminars relating to economic development, immigration challenges and church leadership development. Laudarji has been involved in global ministry in countries such as Ghana, Zambia, and Tanzania.

Katara Patton - Coming soon.

Nolan Shaw - Coming soon.

Dr. Rupe Simms is a Professor of Africana Studies and Sociology at North Park University, Chicago, Illinois.  He received a Ph.D. in Bible Exposition in 1988 from Dallas Theological Seminary, Dallas, Texas, and a second Ph.D. in Sociology in 1997 from Loyola University, Chicago, Illinois.  Dr. Simms has published two books and a number of articles in academic journals. At present he is translating from Spanish to English De Afromexicanos a Pueblo Negro: Por el Reconocimiento Constitucional de los Derechos del Pueblo Negro de Mexico (From Afro-mexicans to Black People: Toward the Constitutional Recognition of the Rights of the Black People of Mexico), a book dealing with the liberation of Afro-Mexican people.

Dr. Julia M. Speller is a native of Chicago. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Chicago State University, a Master of Arts degree in Christian Education from Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary, a Master of Arts degree and a Doctorate of Philosophy degree in the History of Christianity from the Divinity School of the University of Chicago.   She is currently the Associate Professor of American Religious History and Culture and Director of the Doctor of Ministry Program at Chicago Theological Seminary.  She also serves as Director of Christian Education at Trinity United Church of Christ where she has been a member for over 40 years. She is a wife and mother of three adult children and lives in the Roseland/West Pullman community.

Dr. Linda E. Thomas currently serves as full professor at the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago, Illinois. She received her B.A. from Western Maryland College. She earned her M.Div. from Union Seminary and her Ph.D. from American University.

Dr. Thomas’ work focuses on the intersection and mutual influence of culture and religion. Her work is rooted intransitively in a Womanist perspective. She has taught in the fields of anthropology, cultural studies, ethics and theology. She is particularly focused on the experience of African-American women, and is passionate about uncovering and exploring historical and contemporary experiences and ideologies that govern actions, policies and norms surrounding sex, race and class.

Her professional academic experience began as Dean of Students at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington D.C., where she also taught courses in spiritual formation. She has served on the faculty at the Iliff School of Theology in Denver, Colorado and Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary on the campus of Northwestern University. She has served as a visiting professor at the University of Chicago, Vanderbilt University, and Drew University.

Dr. Thomas is well-published. Her first book, Under the Canopy: Ritual Process and Spiritual Resilience in South Africa (1999), explores the everyday lives of black South Africans trapped by systems of structural poverty and the ways religion and culture fueled their resilience during the apartheid era. Her second book, Living Stones in the Household of God (2004), is a collection of essays about Black Theology in the new millennium. Dr. Thomas edited the book and contributed two essays. She has published dozens of articles in academic journals and contributed essays to several scholarly books.

Dr. Howard Wiley - Coming soon.

Rev. Dr. Barbara Ann Wilson is the 19th and first female Pastor of Coppin Memorial African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME C), an historic congregation located for 92 years in the Washington Par k community, on the southside of Chicago, Illinois. She also supervises the Supportive Services Unit and serves as Chair of Coppin House L L C. Coppin House is a 54 unit apartment complex providing affordable housing and serves low-income families, developed by Coppin Church in partnership with Interfaith Housing Development Corporation of Chicago. Further, Coppin Community Center, housed at Coppin Church, is a non-profit/federally tax-exempt
organization providing community and educational programs. Coppin Church has many community partners as we believe that collaboration is critical to the mission of the church as we fulfill our obligation in Building Beloved Community. She serves under the Presiding Prelate and Senior Bishop, the Rt. Rev. John R. Bryant.

Rev. Wilson was a Delegate to the 2008 General Conference, where the 4th Episcopal District Delegation elected her to serve on the General Board of the AME C for 2008-2012.

She was privileged to serve as the Administrator of the 4th Episcopal District from 2004-2008 under the leadership of the Presiding and Senior Bishop, now retired, Rt. Rev. Philip Robert Cousin. Her duties as Administrator included operation/project management and meeting planner for all District meetings and conferences for the 240 congregations in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, North and South Dakota, Nova Scotia, Ontario, and Quebec. In addition she served as Administrator and Operations Manager for Camp Baber, an
AMEC owned 60 acre camp in Cassopolis, Michigan.

Rev. Wilson served for 4 years (2000-2004) as Pastor of Turner Memorial AME C located in the Bronzeville/Gap area of the southside of Chicago, where community partnerships were established and ministry outreach programs implemented with Girl & Boy Scouts, Chicago Housing Authority Summer Food Program, Book/Video Library and Tutoring with World Vision Chicago, and Angel Tree Program for families of the incarcerated.

Rev. Wilson was ordained an Itinerant Elder in the Chicago Annual Conference in 1997. She has earned both the Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry Degrees from McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, Illinois, where she also worked for 2 years as an Adjunct Instructor in Field Education. She has training and experience as a hospice chaplain with Vitas Healthcare, Matteson, I L. She worked as Co-Facilitator for the final Women, Ministry & The City Summer Program in 2001 administrated by Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, I L and held at Loyola University. She completed BootCamp For New Non-Profit Leaders in 2008 at North Park University and Conflict Mediation Training For Church Leaders in 2006 at the Lombard Mennonite Peace Center, Lombard, Illinois. She served as Coordinator for the Annual 4th Episcopal District Christian Education Congress from 2002-2007. In 2010 she represented the AMEC and completed the World Methodist Council’s, World Methodist Evangelism Order of the Flame Program.

Prior to becoming an ordained preacher, Rev. Wilson worked 10 years in the federal criminal justice system as an Investigator with U. S. Drug Enforcement, a correctional officer with the Bureau of Prisons, U. S. Probation & Parole Officer, and 3 years as an adoption and foster care social worker and supervisor. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice and a Master of Science in Justice Administration. Rev. Wilson is a native of Memphis, Tennessee but has called Chicago home for 26 years. She endeavors to live and serve with faithfulness, integrity, and joy.

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Up-Coming Classes

Urban Principalities & the Spirit of the City (GTUS)
Rev. Bill Wylie Kellerman
February 6-7; 13-14; 20-21, 2015
Fridays, 1pm – 9pm; Saturdays 8:30am – 4pm
B-Th 302

History of the Latin@ Church in the U.S. (ALTE)
Dr. Carmelo Alvarez
February 6-7; 27-28; March 13-14; 27-28, 2015
(Friday/viernes 6pm - 9pm y Saturday/sábados 8:30am - 4pm)

Proctor Conference Course (CAATS)
Faculty TBA
February 7-12, 2015
Time & Location TBA
Eth 431

Christology and Culture (GTUS)
Dr. Jim Perkinson
March 13-14, 20-21, 27-28; 2015
Fridays 1pm-9pm; Saturdays 9am-5pm
M 304

The Art of Prophetic Preaching in the Urban Context (GTUS)
Rev. Dr. Otis Moss, III; Rev. Martha Simmons, J.D.; Dr. M. Susan Harlow
April 10-11, 17-18, 24-25; 2015
Fridays 1pm-9pm; Saturdays 9am-5pm
M 306

Restoring Urban Communities (GTUS)
Dr. Mary Nelson
May 1-2, 8-9, 15-16; 2015
Fridays 1pm-9pm; Saturdays 9am-5pm
S-H 305

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