Grant Shockley

Grant Shockley


ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



No one has made a greater contribution to Christian education in the black religious

experience than Grant Shockley. This book is an important interpretation of his intellectual

legacy . . . Grant Shockley challenged me to do theology out of the black religious experience.



Black Religious Experience

Conversations on Double Consciousness

 and the Work of Grant Shockley

By Charles R. Foster & Fred Smith


In 1903, W.E.B. Du Bois coined the term “double consciousness” to refer to the fact that African Americans always view the world through two lenses. first, they see it from their own perspectives as members of an oppressed community, living out the consequences of a particular history. Second, they perceive life from the point of view of a dominant culture that seeks to impose on African Americans its own false understanding of their status and worth.

Christian education working in the African American community have often drawn on this idea as they seek to apply the gospel to the spiritual formation of members of that community. The heart of the work of Grant Shockley, the preeminent African American religious educator of the twentieth century, was combating the negative attitudes and perspectives that the larger society would dictate to African Americans, while providing positive and powerful images of their self worth drawn from the Christian story.

No one has made a greater contribution to Christian education in the black religious experience than Grant Shockley. This book is an important interpretation of his intellectual legacy. As one of my teachers at Garrett Theological Seminary, Grant Shockley challenged me to do theology out of the black religious experience. Without his challenge and encouragement, I do not know whether I would have developed the intellectual courage and self-confidence to articulate my perspective in black theology. I strongly recommend this book as an introduction to Grant Shockley’s life and thought. The black church and black theology are in his debt.–James H. Cone, Brigg Distinguished Professor of Theology, Union Theological Seminary


This book is a treasure. At long last, we now have access to one of the church’s greatest practical theologians of Christian education in the African American community. This will be an invaluable resource for educators, seminarians, pastors, and all who wish to nurture faithful and healthy children and youth. Foster and Smith are to be commended for this labor of love and genius.–Robert Michael Franklin, Presidential Distinguished professor of Social Ethics, Emory University


This is an extraordinarily important book for the future of Christian religious education and for true partnership among churches. The book faithfully recovers and represents the work of one of the most important Christian educators of the twentieth century, Grant Shockley. Grant Shockley embodied faithfulness and hope as he challenged the church to create the “beloved community.” he was a leader in grounding Christian education in context while, at the same time, proclaiming that God is indeed a God of hope, justice, and community. Furthermore, Fred smith and Chuck Foster have extended the discussion of these seminal pieces of scholarship into the present. They offer us concrete directions for a prophetic and engaged pedagogy leading God’s liberating church.–Jack L. Seymour,  Academic Dean at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary


Charles R. Foster and Fred Smith have given us a valuable gift in their interpretation of the life and writings of Grant Shockley. An inspiring teacher, accomplished writer, and consummate scholar, Grant was prevented from sharing his work only by his untimely death in 1996. It is important that this collected work be preserved, especially for his former students and other scholars in religious education. And here, informed as it is by the incisive lens of double consciousness, it reflects a rich and layered texture that makes for provocative thought and reading.–Bishop James S. Thomas, Retired


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Grant S. Shockley’s Curriculum

Vita Education

     A.B. degree, 1942, Lincoln University, Lincoln University, PA

     M.Div degree, 1945, Drew University, Madison, NJ

     M.A. degree, 1946, Columbia University, New York, NY

     Ed.D. degree 1952, Columbia University/Union Theological Seminary, new York, NY

Professional Experience


     Assistant Minister, St. Mark’s United Methodist Church, New York, NY, 1942-46

     Minister, Whatcoat Memorial United Methodist Church, Dover, DE, 1951-53

     Minster, Janes Memorial United Methodist Church, Brooklyn, NY, 1953-59


     Instructor, Bible, Religion, and Philosophy, Clark College, Atlanta, GA, 1946-49

     Professor, Religious Education, Gammon Theological Seminary, Atlanta, GA, 1949-51

     Lecturer, Religious Education, New York University, new York, NY, 1957-59

     Professor, Religious Education, Garrett Theological Seminary, Evanston, IL, 1959-60

     Lecturer, Religion, College of Liberal Arts, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, 1960-63

     Professor of Christian Education, Candler School of Theology, Emory University Atlanta, GA, 


     Lecturer, Religion, College of Liberal Arts, Emory University, Atlanta, GA, 1970-75

     Professor, Christian Education, The divinity School, Duke University, Durham, NC 1983-89

Visiting Professorships

     Centro Evangelico Unido, Mexico, D.F., Fall 1966

     Union Theological Seminary, New York, NY, Summer 1967

     Drew Theological Seminary, Madison, NJ, Spring 1968

     Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, TX, Summer 1970

     Iliff School of theology, Denver, CO, Summer 1971

     University of Zimbawe, Harare, Zimbawe, Summer 1985

     Candler School of Theology, Emory University, 1989-91

     Clark Atlanta University, 1991-95


Executive Secretary, Interboard Committee on Christian Education, World division, Board of Global Ministries, The United Methodist Church, New York, NY (educational consultation in countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America) 1966-70

President, The Interdenominational Theological Center, Atlanta, GA 1975-79

President, Philander Smith College, Little Rock, AR, 1979-83

Charles R. Foster is Emeritus Professor of Religion and Education, Candler School of Theology, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, and Senior Scholar at The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching in Palo Alto, California. He has authored Educating Congregations, Embracing Diversity, Ministry of the Volunteer Teacher, co-edited Working with Black Youth, and co-authored The Church in the Education of the Public.

Fred Douglas Smith Jr. is Associate Professor of Urban Ministry and Associate Director of Practice Ministry and Mission, Wesley Theological Seminary; Senior Scholar Interfaith Health program of Rollins School of Public health, Emory University; Senior Pastor of Fellowship United Methodist Church, Ambridge, Pennsylvania; and Consultant to The United Methodist Council of Bishops’ Task Force on Children and Poverty.

Source: Black Religious Experience Conversations on Double Consciousness and the Work of Grant Shockley by Charles R. Foster & Fred Smith. Abingdon Press, 2004.

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update 14 December 2011




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