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Dr. Ralph Watkins will join Columbia Theological Seminary faculty



Decatur, GA. The Board of Trustees of Columbia Theological Seminary has approved the appointment of Ralph C. Basui Watkins as associate professor of evangelism and church growth. He will join the Columbia faculty in the summer of 2011 and begin teaching during the fall term.

Currently Dr. Watkins is assistant dean of the African American Church Studies Program and associate professor of society, religion, and Africana studies at Fuller Theological Seminary, in California. He is also executive pastor of the 15,000-member First African Methodist Episcopal Church, in Los Angeles. Concerned with the development of future leaders for the church, Dr. Watkins has focused his academic work and ministry on building bridges between youth and young adults and the church. 

He received the Ph.D. in sociology of religion from the University of Pittsburgh. Previously he had earned degrees from two theological institutions of the Presbyterian Church (USA): the Master of Arts in religion at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary, and the Doctor of Ministry at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. He received a B.A. in political science from California State University at Sacramento.

Dr. Watkins began his academic career in Georgia, serving for seven years on the faculty of Augusta State University before going to Fuller in 2005. He has also held teaching and administrative positions at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, the University of Pittsburgh, Clarion University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Dubuque.

Prior to and throughout his academic career, he has been actively engaged in ministry. He is ordained in the African Methodist Episcopal denomination and has served in senior positions at African Methodist Episcopal and Baptist congregations in Georgia, California, and Pennsylvania. 

Dr. Watkins's scholarship includes more than 250 publications and conference presentations. He is the author of five books: Leading Your African American Church Through Pastoral Transition (2010); From Jay-Z to Jesus: Reaching and Teaching Young Adults in the Black Church (2008), co-authored with Benjamin Stephens; The Gospel Remix: Reaching the Hip Hop Generation (2007); I Ain't Afraid to Speak My Mind (2003); and Hip-Hop Redemption: Finding God in the Music and the Message, which will be released this summer. 

In recent years, Dr. Watkins has been the recipient of a Governor's Teaching Fellowship, Lilly Teaching Fellowship, Fulbright Hayes Fellowship for a study in Ghana, a Wabash Teaching Fellowship, and various awards and grants to study the African roots of African American theology in Kenya, Tanzania, Egypt, Ethiopia and Ghana. 
Announcing the appointment of Dr. Watkins, Columbia's president, Steve Hayner, said, "I am excited about this appointment. Ralph will bring his deep commitment to Christ, his enthusiastic love for the church, his passion for evangelism, and his amazing energy as a teacher to this new role. We are looking forward to having him as a colleague in our great faculty."

In recommending Dr. Watkins's appointment to the Columbia faculty, members of the search committee cited not only his scholarship and service to the church, but also his enthusiasm and the rapport he developed with students during his visit to campus for interviews. "Ralph Watkins has a unique blend of charisma and scholarly acumen that will excite our students about evangelism and the mission of the Church," said William P. Brown, professor of Old Testament and chair of the search committee. "A sociologist by training, Ralph has a pastor's heart and an evangelical spirit." 

Rev. Elizabeth Goodrich, a Columbia graduate and member of the Board of Trustees who served on the search committee, said, "Ralph's enthusiasm for God and God's church is contagious. Spending time with him, I found my own faith stretched and renewed . . . He will be both an evangelist for Jesus Christ and an evangelist for the field of evangelism at Columbia." 

Columbia Theological Seminary, located in Decatur, GA, was established in 1828 and is one of 10 theological institutions of the Presbyterian Church (USA). The seminary offers seven graduate degree programs: Master of Divinity, Master of Arts (Theological Studies), Master of Arts in Practical Theology, Master of Theology, Doctor of Ministry, Doctor of Educational Ministry, and Doctor of Theology in Pastoral Counseling. Currently 421 students are enrolled, representing 30 denominations, 34 states, and 10 countries. For more information, visit

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