Black History Month honors the faithful leaders who came before, but it also reminds us that contemporary generations of Black leaders are still blazing trails, breaking ground, and scaling mountains through their creativity, scholarship, and service.

On February 28, CT and Seminary Now joined together to host a roundtable discussion featuring Black evangelical leaders from a variety of vocational ministry settings. Their conversation explored the blessings and challenges of being a Black leader in today’s divided and often volatile ministry environment. Their journeys in the church, academia, and the arts offered practical lessons for creating, serving, and leading in a variety of contexts. Featured panelists for the online conversation included Chicago-based pastor Marshall Hatch Sr. on church leadership, author and poet Rachel Marie Kang on creativity and the arts, Baylor University seminary professor Daniel Lee Hill on theology and higher education, and CT’s own chief impact officer Nicole Martin on women and ministry leadership.

Inspired in part by a June 2020 blog post from webinar moderator Carmen Joy Imes, the discussion featured multiple entry points, ranging from historical to sociological to devotional. Imes, an Old Testament scholar at Biola University, spoke frankly about her relatively recent awakening to the importance of seeing the world—and reading the Bible—through cultural lenses that are different from her own.

“I’m honored to have the opportunity to help the Christian community experience Black History Month in a fresh way by interviewing these four outstanding leaders,” she said prior to the event. “Over the past decade it’s become increasingly apparent to me how important it is for me to learn from those who come from different social locations and how much I’m missing out on when I don’t. It’s been a wonderful journey meeting Christian leaders from a variety of backgrounds and hearing their perspectives on the world.”

Imes has been energized by new friendships and connections across cultural lines. That 2020 blog post, a review of Esau McCaulley’s Reading While Black written at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, was indicative of the trajectory of change in her relationships, ministry, and even her reading diet.

“My childhood was very monochromatic, and I’m so thankful to be in a different space now, with a wide and growing set of friendships and teachers from around the world,” she said. “I believe we’re stronger together, working side by side for human flourishing.”

Imes and the webinar panelists presented an hour of insight, testimony, and practical wisdom for addressing the challenges facing today’s Christian leaders. Watch the full-length replay of the webinar in the video above.

About the Panelists

Rachel Marie Kang is a New York native, born and raised just outside New York City. A mixed woman of African American, Native American (Ramapough Lenape Nation), Irish, and Dutch descent, she holds a degree in English with creative writing. She is the founder of The Fallow House and author of Let There Be Art and The Matter of Little Losses: Finding Grace to Grieve the Big (and Small) Things.

Rev. Dr. Nicole Massie Martin is the chief impact officer at Christianity Today. She is the founder of Soulfire International Ministries and author of Made to Lead: Empowering Women for Ministry and Leaning In, Letting Go: A Lenten Devotional . She and her husband reside in Maryland with their two daughters.

Rev. Dr. Marshall Elijah Hatch, Sr. has been the senior pastor of New Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church of West Garfield since 1993. Born in Chicago, his spiritual development began at Shiloh Baptist Church under the pastorate of his father, the late Reverend Elijah J. Hatch. In 1985 he was ordained and appointed as the pastor of Commonwealth Baptist Church of North Lawndale. In the summer of 1998, he was awarded the Charles E. Merrill Fellowship of Harvard Divinity School. He is professor of ministry at Northern Seminary.

Dr. Daniel Lee Hill (PhD, Wheaton College) is an assistant professor of Christian theology at George W. Truett Theological Seminary at Baylor University. He is the author of Gathered on the Road to Zion and is currently working on a manuscript, Gospel Freedom , that retrieves the insights of 19th-century abolitionists in order to construct an evangelical account of public life.

Moderator: Dr. Carmen Joy Imes is associate professor of Old Testament at Talbot School of Theology at Biola University in Southern California. A graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and Wheaton College Graduate School, her books include Bearing God’s Name: Why Sinai Still Matters and Being God’s Image: Why Creation Still Matters.