Our Story

In 2012 a three-year national research project was launched at the Howard University School of Divinity under the leadership of our former dean, Dr. Alton B. Pollard, III, a sociologist of religion who served as principal investigator. “Equipping the Saints: Promising Practices in Black Congregational Life” was designed to identify, document, and showcase some of the effective practices that contribute to the holistic health and well-being of congregants and communities.

Dr. Pollard and his team of faculty collaborators focused our research on five site-specific topics: The Preached Word in Atlanta, GA (Dr. Kenyatta R. Gilbert); Youth and Family Services in Detroit, MI (Dr. Harold Dean Trulear); Gentrification in Washington, DC (Dr. Cheryl J. Sanders); Economics and Health in Macon County, AL, and Openness and Inclusion (Dr. Pollard).

Major funding was provided by the Lilly Endowment, Inc. and the Arthur Vining Davis Foundation. Dean Pollard left Howard in 2017 to assume another leadership position in theological education. In recent months the remaining team of faculty collaborators launched the second phase of this project with Dr. Gilbert in the role of principal investigator. Our purpose is to continue to “equip the saints” by convening conversations, compiling data, conducting analyses, and constructing narratives about promising practices in Black church contexts.

Meet the Team

Get to know the members behind the Black Congregations initiative.

Dr. Kenyatta R. Gilbert


Principal Investigator

Dr. Cheryl J. Sanders

Faculty Research Collaborator

Dr. Harold Dean Trulear

Faculty Research Collaborator

Mrs. Sabrena Johnson

Project Coordinator

Graduate Student

Mrs. Leah J. Burgess

Research Assistant

Graduate Student