2020
ANNUAL REPORT

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 MESSAGE FROM THE
Executive Director

Greetings!

As we approach our 5th Anniversary, we are understanding even more why the work we do matters. Throughout the course of this Annual Report, you will read quotes by the members of our Advisory Council who are all Black alumni of the various campuses and expressions of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. In their words that have been both inspired and affirmed the bold vision of the ISBCE, they have also challenged and charged our leadership team to be courageous, bold, and prayerful in achieving our mission. 

 

For many, 2020 was a year of disruption, devastation, and death yet, as we focused on the ministry of the ISBCE and more importantly, the people that it touched, we discovered a different narrative within the details. Whereas, many continue to be challenged by the limitations of face-to-face meetings, gatherings, and events, we increased our interactions with impromptu text messages, unscheduled phone calls, spontaneous emails and found that we were able to build new relationships. When we were paralyzed by the vicious murders of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, we took action in reaching out to churches and academic institutions to provide guidance and consultation on how to navigate external (did you mean internal?) and external relations beyond mere aspirational statements. As it became clear that the systemic racist disparities within our nation would aid in higher numbers of deaths (from COVID and other illnesses) within the Afro-Diasporic communities, we released a resource to aid in calling the Church (domestic and global) to lament. For us, 2020 was a year of active ministry. 

As a research institute, our greatest ministry is through our research. Funded by a grant from the Lilly Endowment and generous ISBCE donors, our #EQUIP: Nurturing "Strong and Courageous" Youth Project increased our contact and trainings with our partner congregations from monthly to biweekly in order to provide external encouragement, programmatic support and to meet them at the intersection of their needs with the data-driven resources that they needed to thrive in ministry. Whereas, COVID has detoured a few of our planned activities, our quick pivot established a firm foundation for an expansion of the project into Springfield, MA and Jacksonville, FL during 2021. Equally exciting was the awarding of another Lilly Endowment grant to our collaborative Boston Black Church Vitality Project (BBCVP). Even amidst the hallenges of the pandemic and the overwhelming occurrences of racial injustice, God is blessing the work of the ISBCE and we are grateful. 

Despite the economy and financial challenges experience across all of higher education, 2020 was our strongest fiscal year to date. Beyond our grant activity, our donors "leaned in" and supported our vision in ways that we could not foresee or imagine. We are so grateful for our compassionate care and visionary leadership of our donors who continue to see the uniqueness, relevance, and importance of the work that we do. Even in the midst of a global pandemic, we are so blessed!

Our enrollments in the ISBCE courses were stronger than ever during the Fall semester, a petition by students on the S. Hamilton campus served as a catalyst for the institutional registrar to change one of my scheduled courses. What a blessing to have the campus students so engaged in the course offerings. Due to COVID, all of the ISBCE courses wee 100% digital, meaning we finally had students from all our campuses share in the work of the ISBCE

and had students from as far as Turkey also in the zoom classroom. What a tremendous blessing!

This Spring, a number of our ISBCE Scholars will walk across the stage culminating their time in seminary and we will celebrate with great delight and thanksgiving. We are grateful for our newest ISBCE Fellow, Zoe Towler (Boston University) who has selected the ISBCE as a research/resource site for her contextual education internship. What a gift Zoe is to the ISBCE!

Finally, what a privilege to celebrate our two newest ISBCE Legacy Awardees, Rev. Dr. Cheryl Townshend Gilkes and Rev. Dr. Arthur Gerald as we continue to honor the legacy of Rev. Dr. Michael E. Haynes. 

I remain honored to see the seed that Rev. Dr. Patrick T. Smith and I imagined years ago blossom into such a meaningful and fruitful ministry. Thank you to our amazing council of Advisors who are engaged and constant encouragers in the work that we do together. Thank you to our faithful donors who through this season truly did the unthinkable in securing our ability to thrive and aid others to do the same. Thank you to our students across all of our campuses and expressions for trusting our courses. 

In gratitude and service,

Emmett G. Price III, Ph.D.

Executive Director of the ISBCE

 

 

"The Institute provides support for students of color and also provides space for cultural conversations to happen in the GCTS community. An inclusive approach to studying the Christian Experience is not a compromise of the gospel, but rather a fulfillment of it. Therefore, validating all aspects of the Black Christian Experience regardless of their roots exposes elements that are often ignored by the evangelical majority and shares the significance of how these experiences have shaped the America we know today."

- Rev. Dr. Michael David Bailey, ISBCE Advisory Council

ISBCE Advisory Council

Dr. Michael David Bailey

Hamilton & DMin Alumnus

Ms. Rita Smith Dove

Hamilton Alumna

Ms. Natasha Sistrunk Robinson

Charlotte Alumna

Dr. Vince Bantu

CUME Alumnus

Rev. Dr. Nicole Massie Martin

DMIN Alumna

Rev. Dr. Patrick T. Smith

ISBCE Co-Founder

Ms. Arva J. Byron

CUME Alumna

Rev. Dr. Cleotha Robertson

Hamilton Alumna

Mr. LaNorris Triplett

Jacksonville Alumna

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"The Black Church has been a prophetic witness and moral compass to the nation and world for centuries. The work of the ISBCE is pivotal in documenting, narrating and interpreting the legacy of the Black Church and bringing its resources to bear in evangelical theological institutions."

- Dr. Vince Bantu, ISBCE Advisory Council

SPOTLIGHTS

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Nurturing Strong and Courageous Youth

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2020 LEGACY AWARDEE

Rev. Dr.
Cheryl Townshend 
Gilkes

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BBCVP

Boston Black Church Vitality Project

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2020 LEGACY AWARDEE

Rev. Dr.
Arthur T. Gerald, Jr.

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BALM IN GILEAD

A Call To Lament
 

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2020 ISBCE FELLOW

Zoe Towler

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"The Institute shines a proper light on the Black Christian experience,  which has historically been overlooked in America. ISBCE uniquely combines faith, cultural pride, and an accurate education that emboldens all students to be fully equipped whether in the marketplace or in ministry."

- Arva J. Byron, ISBCE Advisory Council

DONOR LIST

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GENERAL DONORS
(Gifts up to $3,500)

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PLANTERS
(Recurring Gifts up to $250)

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"The work of the ISBCE allows students to understand the rich and dynamic tapestry of faith emphasized within African-American traditions so that all students may appreciate the expanse of God’s Kingdom. Graduates of this program carry not only the intellectual acumen necessary for today, but also sensitivity to and appreciation for the God who has brought us this far on the way."

- Rev. Dr. Nicole Massie Martin, ISBCE Advisory Council

FINANCIAL REPORT

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"The ISBCE addresses the complex mosaic of the Black Christian Experience. This experience has contextualized the Gospel of our Lord and as such provides a paradigm that should be examined and emphasized. This contextualization by Christians of African descent involves a wholistic application of the Bible to all aspects of their lives, individually and collectively. Moreover, this contextualization also involves the infiltration of the Gospel into the economy, the larger society, and politics. This paradigm of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that holistically contextualizes the Good News as “Salt and Light,”  is doctrinally orthodox, socially engaged, and justice-oriented.  This holistic paradigm  is a unique gift of the Black Christian Experience to the Body of Christ.  The work of ISBCE that will foster the examination of the Black Christian Experience by the  mentorship of students, continuing education, and  connecting the academy with churches, is essentially needed at this time!"

- Rev. Dr. Cleotha Robertson, ISBCE Advisory Council

January 2020 - December 2020

THE YEAR IN REVIEW

March

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APRIL

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MAY

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JUNE

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JULY

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"The Black Christian Experience in the United States is and has always been a lived theology, one that is grounded in orthodoxy and orthopraxy, love and truth, grace and justice. We are the people who embody the now and not yet kingdom of God, meaning that our lives, families, churches, schools, or communities have never been rooted in the individual trappings of earthly "success" and capitalism. We are a people who are always trusting and waiting with glimmers of hope amid our suffering and oppression. This perseverance is our faith in action, and our gift to the church."

- Natasha Sistrunk Robinson, ISBCE Advisory Council

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SUPPORT ISBCE

Give today to support the work of ISBCE. If you have any questions about your donation, please contact our Advancement Services office at (978) 646-4017 or click here to email us.

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"Christianity... ... ."

- LaNorris Triplett, ISBCE Advisory Council

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