This conference looks at the history and contemporary expansion of Pentecostalism among people of African descent. The first two panels offer an engaging, scholarly approach to this topic, while the final panel presents a lively discussion among leading clerics about the future of Pentecostalism. The keynote address for the conference challenges the audience to consider the responsibility of Pentecostals (those within and without traditional denominations) for pursuing justice and humanity in the world. Co-sponsored by the Department of African and African American Studies, Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research, Harvard University and Harvard Divinity School.

+ BIO: Frank Madison Reid III

The Rev. Dr. Frank Madison Reid, III is an internationally known leader, a pre-eminent power speaker, cutting edge thinker, as well as a motivator who encourages and equips people to rebuild their broken lives and communities. Born on June 29, 1951, in Chicago, Illinois, to the late Bishop Frank M. Reid, Jr, and Adrenis Carter Reid, he was the first born son of four children. The family moved to St. Louis, Missouri, in 1956 where Dr. Reid was raised and attended public schools. He graduated from high school in 1969. A brilliant but late blooming student, Dr. Reid took a year, 1969-70, to attend the acclaimed Yale Transitional Year Program (TYP). In that program, he began to fulfill his academic and leadership potential and was later admitted to some of the top colleges in the nation. Dr. Reid graduated from Yale in 1974 with a B.A. in History and African American Studies. While at Yale, he served as the moderator and president of the Black Student Alliance (BSA) and had the opportunity to meet some of the top leaders of the world. During his college years, Dr. Reid answered his call to ministry and preached his trial sermon in August of 1971 at Metropolitan A.M.E. Church in Washington, D.C. When he received his license to preach, he became the 5th generation of his family to become a minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Under Dr. Reid’s leadership, “The Bethel Outreach of Love” Broadcast was the first African Methodist Episcopal Church to have an international TV broadcast. For over 10 years, the broadcast was on Black Entertainment Television (BET). The broadcast has also been on the Armed Forces Network, and is now seen internationally in Europe on Revelation TV and UC-TV, nationally on The Word Network, and regionally on WB-TV. As a best-selling author who has written important books and articles, Dr. Reid is a much sought out author, teacher, preacher, and motivational speaker. Dr. Reid is married to Marlaa Hall Reid, a talented woman in her own right; they have been married for over 24 years. They have two daughters, Franshon and Faith, and one son, Shane.

+ BIO: Carlton D. Pearson

Carlton Pearson is the Presiding Bishop of more than 500 churches and ministries through the AZUSA Interdenominational Fellowship of Christian Churches and Ministries and pastored Higher Dimensions Family Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for more than 20 years.

+ BIO: Rev. Dr. Yvette Flunder

Rev. Dr. Yvette Flunder, a San Francisco native, has served her call through prophetic action and ministry for justice for over thirty years. This call to “blend proclamation, worship, service and advocacy on behalf of those most marginalized in church and in society” led to the founding of the City of Refuge United Church of Christ in 1991. In 2003, Rev. Dr. Flunder was consecrated Presiding Bishop of The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries, a multi-denominational coalition of over 100 primarily African American Christian leaders and laity.

Rev. Dr. Flunder is on the Board of Starr King School for the Ministry and DEMOS and has taught at many theological schools. She is a graduate of the Certificate of Ministry and Master of Arts programs at PSR, and received her Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary. She is also an award-winning gospel music artist and author of Where the Edge Gathers: A Theology of Homiletic and Radical Inclusion.

+ BIO: Andy C. Lewter Jr.

Bishop Lewter’s ministerial career began in 1973 while still a student at Oberlin College majoring in communications and religion. While on campus, Bishop Lewter directed the Oberlin Black Ensemble, served as chairman of Abusua and president of African-Heritage House. He also helped to find the Oberlin Voices of Christ. After graduating with a BA with honors in 1976, he entered Harvard University in pursuit of a master’s of divinity degree. Bishop Lewter holds an earned doctorate of ministry degree from the United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio. In Boston he served at the Union Baptist Church with Pastor Melvin G. Brown as an assistant pastor in charge of communications and drama, directing James Baldwin’s “Amen Corner.” In 1979 he graduated from Harvard Divinity School and spent additional time in a post-graduate study program at Oxford University. In 1985, Bishop Lewter responded to an invitation by the Oakley Baptist Church to come and assume the pastorate. His tenure is marked by the development of a live TV ministry, growth of the membership, and a church newspaper. In 1991, Bishop Lewter made history by leading the New Life Fellowship of Churches in the purchase of WO8BV TV8, Ohio’s only African-American religious television station. The station has the participation of approximately 40 churches ranging from Columbus, New York, Chicago, and Atlanta. In February 1993, Bishop Lewter led the African American Religious Connection in the acquisition of their first radio station, WLGO 1170 AM, reaching 16 counties in central South Carolina.

+ BIO: Eugene F. Rivers III

Youth activist Reverend Eugene Franklin Rivers, III was born on April 9, 1950 in Boston, Massachusetts. Rivers spent his early years in Chicago where his parents, Mildred Bell Rivers and Eugene F. Rivers, Jr. were members of the Nation of Islam. His father, as Eugene 3X, designed the masthead for Muhammad Speaks. Mentored by Reverend Benjamin Smith of Philadelphia’s Deliverance Evangelistic Temple, Rivers graduated from Dobbins Vocational High School in 1968. He studied painting at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, while becoming active in street level organizing and black church politics. In 1970, Rivers was a part of the Black Economic Development Conference working with Muhammad Kenyatta. He joined Lucius Walker and James Forman in the Reparations Movement. He attended Yale as an unregistered activist from 1973 to 1976. Officially admitted to Harvard University in 1976, Rivers was mentored by Dr. Martin Kilson. Recognized as one of the most effective crusaders against gang violence, Rivers founded Azusa Christian Community in 1984 in the Four Corners section of Boston’s inner city Dorchester neighborhood. As President of the National Ten Point Leadership Foundation, he is working to build new grassroots leadership in forty of the worst inner city neighborhoods in inner city America. Rivers has appeared on CNN’s Hardball, NBC’s Meet the Press, PBS’s Charlie Rose, BET’s Lead Story, and National Public Radio, among other programs. He has been featured or provided commentary for publications such as Newsweek, The New Yorker, The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Boston Herald, and the Boston Globe, as well as periodicals such as the Boston Review, Sojourners, Christianity Today, and Books and Culture.

+ BIO: Cheryl J. Sanders

Cheryl J. Sanders, Th.D., is professor of Christian Ethics at the Howard University School of Divinity where she teaches courses in Christian ethics, pastoral ethics and African American spirituality. Her key areas of research and writing are African American religious studies, bioethics, pastoral leadership and womanist studies. Dr. Sanders has lectured at colleges, universities and seminaries all over the United States, including the 2005 C. Eric Lincoln Lectureship at Clark Atlanta University and the Staley Distinguished Christian Scholar Lectureship. She has held visiting professorships at Harvard Divinity School and High Point University, and taught as an exchange professor at Wesley Theological Seminary and the Lutheran Seminary at Gettysburg. Dr. Sanders has been Senior Pastor of the Third Street Church of God in Washington, D.C. since 1997. She has ministered nationally and internationally for more than 30 years as a preacher for church services, camp meetings, conventions, conferences and revivals. In 2005, she was honored as one of the elders in the fall issue of The African American Pulpit: Those Preaching Women. She is an author of more than 100 articles and several books, including Ministry at the Margins (1997); Saints in Exile: The Holiness-Pentecostal Experience in African American Religion and Culture (1996); and Empowerment Ethics for a Liberated People (1995). She holds a bachelors degree in mathematics from Swarthmore College and two graduate degrees from Harvard Divinity School: Master of Divinity, cum laude and Doctor of Theology in the field of applied theology. In 2002, she was awarded the honorary Doctor of Divinity degree by Asbury College in Wilmore, Kentucky.

Harvard Du Bois Institute
African American Culture Series
God In America Series