Tuesday, May 12, 2020 - 2:00pm to Thursday, May 14, 2020 - 2:00pm
Duke Divinity School, 0016 Westbrook Building (Map)
Office of Black Church Studies

OBCS GatheringEditor’s note: This event has been postponed in response to the corona virus. Visit Duke's COVID-19 response site for the most up-to-date information and policies for the university at https://coronavirus.duke.edu/.

In 2019, the 400th year since the arrival of Africans in the first permanent English Colony in North America, Duke University and Duke Divinity School launched the Black Pastoral Leadership Collaboration directed by the Office of Black Church Studies. The collaboration will discover, design, and disseminate leadership strategies from the Black Church for the Whole Church through research, training, and convening.

Join the Black Pastoral Leadership Collaboration May 12 -14, 2020, on the Duke Divinity School campus for the inaugural Black Pastoral Leadership School.

The Office of Black Church Studies invites pastors committed to exploring the "Arc of Impact" through constructing ministries strategically that empower people for liberating and transforming work and witness. Participants can anticipate additional networking opportunities with pastoral colleagues committed to operationalizing strategies for personal, congregational, and community flourishing.

Pastors School Overview

Editor’s note: This event has been canceled as part of Duke University’s response to the corona virus pandemic. Visit Duke's COVID-19 response site for the most up-to-date information and policies for the university at https://coronavirus.duke.edu/.

The Black Pastoral Leadership School hosts pastors for transformative learning experiences annually. The focus of the 2020 inaugural leadership school, "Exploring the Arc of Impact," will inform and inspire pastoral leaders interested in amplifying ministry through the arc of "Contextualization, Conscientization, and Construction."

2020 School Faculty


Rev. Dr. Donna Coletrane Battle Dr. Donna Coletrane Battle presents contextualization—understanding oppression related to race, class, and gender. Battle, Ph.D., is a spiritual practitioner focused on justice as it relates specifically to intersectionality and spirituality. She currently serves as the chaplain at Meredith College in Raleigh, N.C. Battle has engaged and facilitated groups in the areas of building healthy relationships, spirituality, identity, value-based leadership, anti-racism and sexism, diversity, conflict resolution, and justice, for nearly two decades. She has lead training and retreats for numerous academic, religious, and community organizations throughout the nation. She also serves as a leadership coach and spiritual director for the N.C. United Methodist Conference and People of Color Healing Collective of California. Battle holds a B.A. in public relations from N.C. A&T State University, a M.Div. from Duke University, and a Ph.D. in marriage and family therapy from Eastern University.


Lisa Marie Bowens, Ph.D. Dr. Lisa Marie Bowens  frames conscientization—helping people facing oppression better understand systems that conspire to oppress the marginalized and victimized. Bowens, Ph.D., is assistant professor of New Testament at Princeton Theological Seminary. She currently teaches the Introduction to New Testament Greek, Greek Exegesis of 2 Corinthians, African American Pauline Hermeneutics, and Introduction to New Testament Exegesis. Her published works include An Apostle in Battle: Paul and Spiritual Warfare in 2 Corinthians 12:1-10 (Mohr Siebeck, 2017). Bowens earned a B.S., M.S.B.E., and M.L.I.S. from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and a M.T.S. and Th.M. from Duke Divinity School. In 2014 she earned her Ph.D. from Princeton Theological Seminary.


Dr. Kevin W. Crosby Dr. Kevin W. Cosby emphasizes the aspect of construction in the "Arc of Impact." Cosby, D.Min., helps participants deepen insights around designing strategies, building partnerships, resourcing projects, and executing programs for transformational and sustainable impact for liberation and reconciliation. For more than 30 years, Cosby has served as pastor of Louisville’s 15,000-member St. Stephen Church, the largest African American church and the largest private employer of African Americans in Kentucky. Named the 13th and current president of Simmons College in Kentucky in 2014, Simmons was recognized as the 107th HBCU. During his first decade there, to stabilize the college, Cosby refused to take a salary and returned more than $700,000 to the college. An author of five books, he holds a Bachelor’s degree (Eastern Kentucky University), a Master of Divinity degree (The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary), and a Doctor of Ministry degree (United Theological Seminary).



Tuesday, May 12

5:00 to 6:00 p.m.             School Check-in

6:00 to 8:30 p.m.             Overview of the Black Pastoral Theology Arc &

                                           Community Meal (provided)

Wednesday, May 13

9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Contextualization—Dr. Donna Coletrane Battle

12:30 to 2 p.m.                Lunch (on your own)

2:00 to 5 p.m.                  Conscientization—Dr. Lisa M. Bowens

5:00 to 7 p.m.                  Dinner (on your own)

Thursday, May 14

9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.   Construction—Dr. Kevin W. Cosby

12:30 to 2:00 p.m.            Lunch (on your own) and Departure



The Black Pastoral Leadership School (BPLS) Registration Cost:

  • Friend/Participant ($350)
  • Alumni ($250)
  • Faculty/Staff ($250)
  • Student ($150)

Please register before May 5, 2020.

Contact Deborah A. Williams, project coordinator with the Office of Black Church Studies, with questions or for more information.

Directions & Lodging


Recommended accommodations provided by the Hilton Garden Inn Durham/University Medical Center, 2102 West Main Street, Durham, North Carolina 27705.

Use promotional code BPLS to ensure the conference rate. When calling to make reservations, please use the following information below:

  • Group Name: Black Pastoral Leadership School
  • Group Code: BPLS

Check-in: May 12, 2020

Check Out: May 14, 2020

Make Online Reservations


On Tuesday, May 12, 2020, starting at 6 p.m., join the Office of Black Church Studies for the Black Pastoral Leadership School opening dinner and fellowship, which is included in the registration fee. All other meals are the responsibility of the participant.


Air Transportation

The nearest airport is the Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU), a 20-minute drive to Duke University. Super Shuttle Service runs from RDU airport to Duke University and the surrounding area. You can make a reservation online before your arrival to Duke (using a credit card). Taxis and car services are available outside each terminal of the airport.

Rail Transportation

The Durham Train Station offers Amtrak service to and from Charlotte, N.C., Raleigh, N.C., Washington, D.C, New York City, and points in between. Make reservations in advance online or by phone.

Ground Transportation

Directions to Duke University


Parking is available in the Bryan Center Parking Deck for $2/hour or $12/day. Parking fees are the responsibility of BPLS  participants. If you are staying at the Hilton Garden Inn Durham/University Medical Center, it provides complimentary shuttle service daily, from 6:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., to any location within five miles of the hotel.

Local transportation will be arranged for participants for any off-campus events sponsored by BPLS.