LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A Louisville pastor who has been active in the city’s racial justice efforts has been named associate director of Baptist Seminary of Kentucky’s Institute for Black Church Studies.
Erica Whitaker, pastor of Buechel Park Baptist Church since 2016, will assume her duties at BSK next month. She will be working alongside Lewis Brogdon, who became the institute’s first director earlier this year.
The Louisville-based institute provides continuing education for Black church leaders and will soon be offering a graduate certificate in Black church studies. It also serves predominately white congregations by providing resources on racial justice education.
The institute is housed at Simmons College of Kentucky, a historically Black institution, and received initial funding through a grant from the Eula Mae and John Baugh Foundation. BSK offers the Master of Divinity degree at Simmons College and at Georgetown College in Central Kentucky.
Simmons College and Louisville’s predominately Black West End where Simmons is located are familiar places to Whitaker. She is part of a coalition of Black and White pastors who formed Empower West, a group dedicated to empowering western Louisville through education and economic development.
“I believe God led her to us,” Brogdon said. “Her experience and gifts are a natural fit for the institute. I am especially excited about the leadership she brings to the racial justice work we do in the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship churches locally and across the nation.
“We are well underway in building an institute that will serve BSK students, the National Baptist Convention of America, CBF church leaders and the nation for years to come.” BSK is affiliated with both the CBF and the NBCA, one of the nation’s largest predominately Black denominations.
Whitaker came to Louisville from Dallas, where she was a pastoral resident at Wilshire Baptist Church. She also has been a student minister, a minister of outreach and a chaplain. She is a member of Baptist News Global’s Board of Directors and serves on Kentucky Baptist Women in Ministry’s Advisory Council.
A Texas native, Whitaker holds an undergraduate degree from the University of North Texas and a Master of Divinity degree from Baylor University’s George W. Truett Seminary. She is writing a dissertation for a Doctor of Philosophy degree at International Baptist Theological Study Centre in Amsterdam.
“This new position is the Holy Spirit’s imagination at work for BSK and my calling,” Whitaker said. ‘It grieves my heart to leave my beloved Buechel Park congregation, but I am thrilled for the opportunity to bring together my years of experience with congregational work on racism alongside the groundbreaking, innovative work of the Institute for Black Church Studies at BSK.”
BSK President David Cassady said Whitaker brings a “commitment to racial justice and a love for the church” to her new position. “Her energy, insight, and generativity will help the Institute for Black Church Studies make a real difference in the months and years ahead,” he noted.