The new director for the Black Church Studies program at Brite Divinity School stood out among the other candidates because of her strong academic background, the dean of Brite Divinity School said.
Nancy Ramsay, executive vice president and dean of Brite Divinity School, said that Keri Day, the new director, also showed confidence in the fields of Black Church Studies, literature and theological ethics.
“Day was active all her life in the Black Church,” Ramsay said. “She brings an appreciation for life in the church and came strongly recommended by every scholar we approached.”
Day, a member of the Church of God, is currently a Ph.D student and is finishing her dissertation at Vanderbilt University, said Rodney Thomas Jr., an office assistant for the Black Church Studies program.
Day said that she will assume the director position in time for the start of the fall 2009 semester.
She said she studied political science and economics as an undergraduate at Tennessee State University and received a master’s in religion and ethics at Yale University .
Day said she was drawn to religion and ethics because she had always been interested in religious community participation in political discourse and economic justice for the poor.
Thomas said that the basic mission of the Black Church Studies program is to provide educational history about the practices of the Christian church in the black community.
The Black Studies program also provides academic studies in Black Church studies, Thomas said.
The previous position of director was held by Stacey Floyd-Thomas.
Rodney Thomas said that Floyd-Thomas left TCU for a position at Vanderbilt Divinity School.
Ramsay said that the commitment of Brite Divinity School is strong with the Black Church Studies program and it was built on a good foundation set by Floyd-Thomas.
Day said that she has two key things she wants to accomplish during her first year as director.
The first is to reflect and listen to the needs of the students, faculty and community and to think about a way to move the program forward, Day said. The second is to emphasize the importance of poverty and public policy and how it relates to religion and other pressing sociological issues, she said.
Day said she had previously worked as an adjunct professor of philosophy at Tennessee State University and was a teaching fellow at Vanderbilt University, where she focused on the area of ethics.
Interacting with students is one of her greatest rewards because she enjoys helping students achieve intellectual growth, clarity and purpose by working with the ministry, she said.
“It’s important to push students to think critically about different ideas, people and situations to engage them to open up.”
Ramsay said she expects Day to pick up where the program left off and to develop and strengthen it.
Day said she has never lived in Texas but thinks the transition will not be a hard one because of the hospitality she feels when she comes here.
Day will be on campus for the Black Church Studies Summit on April 3 at a lunch meeting at the Brown-Lupton University Union. The meeting will be open to the public.