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Strengthening Churches * Empowering Leaders * Transforming Communities


The Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, Inc. (SDPC) represents a cross section of progressive African American faith leaders and their congregations in the United States. Founded in 2003 as a 501(c)(3) organization, the SDPC was called into being to continue the rich legacy of the faith community’s engagement in issues of social justice.

The mission of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference (SDPC) is to nurture, sustain, and mobilize the African American faith community in collaboration with civic, corporate, and philanthropic leaders to address critical needs of human and social justice within local, national, and global communities. SDPC seeks to strengthen the individual and collective capacity of thought leaders and activists in the church, academy, and community through education, advocacy, and activism.

Through partnerships and collaborations with others from the academic, business, policy and not for profit communities, the skills, talents and resources of SDPC supporters are maximized by sharing information and models of successful outreach strategies.

SDPC focuses its work on education, advocacy and activism, promoting justice by resourcing and organizing partner churches, clergy and lay leaders to address the diverse concerns of communities.




The Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference (SDPC) was incorporated in September 17, 2003 with the hope and faith that the organization would focus on what was proclaimed in the fourth chapter of Luke, to set captives free and to give liberty to those who are oppressed. It is what was envisioned by the three founders and theological giants, Dr. Iva E. Carruthers, Dr. Frederick D. Haynes III and Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr. who met, prayed and talked about giving birth to a particular “something” that could speak to the needs of those who were thirsty for sound biblical knowledge and committed social advocacy. Four of their colleagues then joined the discussion. And that conversation, the spark of an idea, became what is now the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, a national network that serves thousands of pastors, lay leaders and the next generation of those working for social justice.

It is with this divine calling that the Samuel DeWitt Proctor entered the public square. And it is with prayerful dedication and purpose that we work to change the socio-political landscape for those in need as we continue our fervent quest and biblical directive to do justice. The Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference network, has been challenging communities and churches, hearts and minds of clergy and lay leaders, seminarians and thought leaders. From its inception, the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference adopted an organizational vision to affirm that there is no separation between the anointing of the Spirit of the Lord and the social justice aspects which that same spirit calls us to carry out day-by-day in the communities in which we live and serve.

Through the power of prophetic preaching, informed teaching and true social activism, clergy and lay work together, with, through and on behalf of those most vulnerable and marginalized in the world.

We are making a difference!.

Rev. Dr. Samuel DeWitt Proctor

27529_samuel_dewitt_proctor_1354154464Some pastors have given up on filling the shoes of Amos, Micah, Isaiah, or Jeremiah…God bless those pastors who stand tall and who, in love, tell the truth. They are the watchmen in the tower, the sentinels at the gate who can save us from total pollution. - Dr. Samuel DeWitt Proctor (1921-1997)

The late Rev. Dr. Samuel DeWitt Proctor was Pastor Emeritus of the Abyssinian Baptist Church of New York City and Professor Emeritus at Rutgers University.

Dr. Proctor was president of Virginia Union University, Richmond and North Carolina A&T State University. He held administrative positions with the Peace Corps in Nigeria and Washington, D.C. and the National Council of Churches.

Dr. Proctor also served on the governing boards of the United Negro College Fund, National Urban League, and the Overseer’s Visiting Committee for the Divinity School at Harvard University. He was Pastor-In-Residence for the Institute for Child Advocacy at Children’s Defense Fund/Haley Farm. He was awarded honorary Doctorate degrees from more than 50 colleges and universities around the world. Dr. Proctor was a prolific writer and preacher, authoring, We Have This Ministry, How Shall They Hear, and Sermons from the Black Pulpit, among many others.


Rev. Traci Blackmon
Christ the King United Church of Christ
Florissant, MO

Rev. Blackmon serves as Senior Pastor of Christ the King United Church of Christ, and is the founder of the Sista SOS Summit, an intergenerational symposium designed to assist women toward spiritual and sexual wholeness. Rev. Blackmon is also the co-founder of “When Women Gather...” a monthly ecumenical gathering committed to facilitating the spiritual growth and development of women by studying the Word of God through the unique lens that is womanhood. Rev. Traci currently serves as the Coordinator of Faith-Based Initiatives for BJC Healthcare, as a Senior Consultant with the Praxis Group, LLC and is a member of the Ferguson Commission, addressing the disparities in Ferguson, MO.

Rev. Dr. Valerie Bridgeman
WomanPreach, Inc.

Rev. Dr. Valerie Bridgeman, a prophetic Womanist preacher, teacher and scholar, focuses on empowering female speakers of the Word to enrich their passion for God in their pulpits and in the academy. She is CEO and president of WomanPreach, Inc., an organization for female preachers, pastors and seminarians to discuss their faith and serving as a vehicle of theological resources. She is formerly an Associate Professor of the Hebrew Bible/ Preaching and Worship Scholar in Theology and the Arts at Lancaster Theological Seminary in Lancaster, Pa. She also has been a lecturer and conference speaker across the country and won the Charles L. King Preaching Excellence Award while a student in seminary and the 1995 Austin Book Award for her collection of poems, In Search of Warriors, Dark and Strong, and Other Poems.

Dr. Iva E. Carruthers, PhD

General Secretary, Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference
Chicago, Illinois

Dr. Carruthers personal and professional life is an active ministry centering on issues of justice and social policy. Before becoming founding CEO and a board member of the SDPC, she also served as executive director of the Black Theology Project and president of Urban Outreach Foundation. Dr. Carruthers holds a PhD from Northwestern University in sociology and did post doctoral studies at the University of Chicago and University of Illinois. She received a Masters in Theological Studies from Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary. Dr. Carruthers is Professor Emeritus and former chairperson of the Sociology Department at Northeastern Illinois University. She was founding president of Nexus Unlimited, an information technology firm and served on the Presidential Task Force on the Internet and instructional technology. She has authored and edited numerous publications. She is a lifetime trustee of the Chicago Theological Seminary.

Rev. Dr. Marcus Cosby
Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church
Houston, Texas

Rev. Dr. Marcus D. Cosby serves as the Senior Pastor of Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church. Dr. Cosby is an activist preacher who is sensitive to the spiritual needs of his parishioners and those who are hurting and are in need of a Word. He currently is on the board of the Samuel Dewitt Proctor Conference; the African American Pulpit; and the Home Mission Board of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. He has been on the Board of the Houston Area Urban League, Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston, the Texas Commission for Community Service and Volunteerism, and as an Advisory Board Member of the Gardner C. Taylor Preaching Archives and Listening Room in Atlanta, Georgia.  He is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, Inc., Sigma Pi Phi fraternity and the NAACP.  He received a Bachelor of Arts in Religion and English from Fisk University and a Master of Divinity Degree in Homiletics and Christian Education from the Morehouse School of Religion at the Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC) and Doctor of Ministry in Homiletics from Northern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Rev. Martin L. Espinosa
Ray of Hope Community Church
Nashville, Tennessee

Rev. Espinosa is executive pastor and founder of Ray of Hope Community Church, which was created to be a community church with a global reach. Rev. Espinosa’s personal ministry focuses on preaching and reaching those who need healing and have lost hope and faith. He has lectured, leads workshops and preaches with passion across the country about family dynamics, fatherhood, male sexuality, coping with childhood sexual abuse, the relationship and intersection between spirituality and male sexuality. He has gained national recognition for his work and his ability to delve with ease into topics many seek to avoid. Rev. Espinosa tries to live out the church’s motto, “Created with a Purpose: Called to Serve the Community.” He is a graduate of American Baptist College and received a Masters of Theological Studies from Vanderbilt University. He is married to the biblical scholar and powerful womanist preacher, the Rev Dr. Renita Weems.

Rev. Dr. James Alexander Forbes, Jr.
Healing of the Nations Foundation
New York, New York

Dr. Forbes is president and founder of Healing of the Nations Foundation and is Senior Minister Emeritus of the historic Riverside Church that was built by John D. Rockefeller in 1927. Dr. Forbes completed his leadership of the multicultural church after 18 years of service, to begin a national and global ministry for spiritual renewal and holistic health. In national and international religious circles, Dr. Forbes is known as the preacher’s preacher because of his extensive preaching career and his charismatic style. Based on the 1995 Baylor University Survey, Newsweek magazine’s March 4, 1996 issue recognized him as one of the 12 “most effective preachers” in the English-speaking world. He is also known for his insightful and unique command of the Gospel. Dr. Forbes has earned three degrees and has been awarded 13 honorary degrees. He earned a Doctor of Ministry Degree from Colgate-Rochester Divinity School in Rochester, NY, a Master of Divinity Degree from Union Theological Seminary; and a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from Howard University in Washington, D.C. He earned his Clinical Pastoral Education Certificate from the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond, VA.

Honorable Rev. Wendell L. Griffen
New Millennium Church, Little Rock, Arkansas
Circuit Judge, Sixth Judicial District, Fifth Division, State of Arkansas

Wendell Griffen has served as Pastor of New Millennium Church since its inception in May 2009. New Millennium Church defines itself as "inclusive, progressive and welcoming followers of Jesus Christ," based on the belief that social justice is at the heart of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He is also Circuit Judge of the Fifth Division, Sixth Judicial District, for the State of Arkansas, a position he has held since January 1, 2011. He is admitted to practice law in Arkansas before state and federal courts and before the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. For more than three decades, Wendell Griffen has served as an Arkansas lawyer, jurist, legal educator, religious leader, and public speaker.  Judge Griffen delivered presentations concerning criminal justice and mass incarceration in 2008 and 2011 during the New Baptist Covenant, developed a seminar titled “Cultural Competency, Inclusion and Law” as Visiting Professor of Law at the William H. Bowen School of Law at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and was a plenary speaker during the 2012 Baptist Conference on Sexuality and Covenant. Judge Griffen is married to Dr. Patricia Griffen, a clinical psychologist in private practice, and they are parents of two adult sons.

Dr. Forrest E. Harris, Sr.
American Baptist College
Nashville, Tennessee

Dr. Forrest E. Harris, Sr. is president of the American Baptist College in Nashville, Tenn. and is the director of the Kelly Miller Smith Institute on Black Church Studies at Vanderbilt University, as well as holding a faculty position in the School of Divinity. The Kelly Miller Smith Institute has a $1.2 million endowment for the continuing pursuit of the liberating elements of the African American church and to assist in defining a future for oppressed peoples, shaped by the prophetic vision of God's justice on earth. The Institute is a vehicle for generating scholarship, sharing research through conferences and workshops, and enriching opportunities through dialogue with lay and clergy leaders in America's African American churches. Dr. Harris holds degrees from Knoxville College, American Baptist College and a Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry from Vanderbilt University Divinity School. Dr. Harris has published three widely distributed books.

Rev. Dr. Frederick D. Haynes, III

Senior Pastor, Friendship-West Baptist Church
Dallas, Texas

Dr. Frederick D. Haynes III just celebrated his 30th anniversary as senior pastor of the Friendship-West Baptist Church. He has led the congregation with a transformative commitment to Christ and a passion for people and yearning for community change. The church has grown to 12,000 during his tenure. Dr. Haynes has a Bachelor’s degree from Bishop College, a Master of Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from the Graduate Theological Foundation, which included study at the University of Oxford. He is also an author and a radio show host. Dr. Haynes marries theology with current sociological issues. In all he does, his work echoes that of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He is a founding trustee and chair of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference. He is the author of several publications and serves in various leadership capacities for social justice organizations throughout the nation.

Bishop Gregory G. M. Ingram
Presiding Prelate
First Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church

Bishop Ingram was appointed to his current position on July 4, 2012, during the 49th Quadrennial Session of the denomination’s General Conference. He presides over seven annual conferences including Delaware, New England, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and the British Overseas Territory of Bermuda 
Bishop Ingram was elected and consecrated the 118th Bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in 2000. He developed a widely adopted 10-Point Partnership Plan, a strategy for improving every aspect of life for the people of faith. Prior to his election to the Episcopacy, Bishop Ingram served as the Senior Minister of Oak Grove African Methodist Episcopal Church in Detroit, Mich. During his 13-year pastorate, the church prospered both numerically and financially. He has authored a number of publications heralded throughout African Methodism. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Wilberforce University, a Master of Arts degree in Teaching from Antioch College, a Master of Divinity degree from Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry degree from United Theological Seminary.

Ms. Tyra A. Mariani
Deputy Chief Of Staff, US Department Of Education
Washington, D.C.

Ms. Tyra Mariani was appointed in May 2011 as deputy chief of staff in the Office of the Secretary. She advises offices throughout the Department on proposed, new, or revised policies, regulations, or legislation, spanning early childhood through adult education. She also manages large scale projects, special assignments, and provides counsel to the Secretary of Education and the Chief of Staff that further the Secretary’s and the Administration’s goals. Before joining the department, Mariani was the executive director of the Greater New Orleans program and responsible for the development and execution to drive academic gains in schools led by New Leaders in New Orleans. She also served as Budget Director for Chicago Public Schools, the third largest school district in the country. Mariani received a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Howard University and a master’s in business from Stanford University.

Rev. Dr. Earl B. Mason
Bible-Based Fellowship Church of Temple Terrace, Inc.
Tampa, Florida

Rev. Dr. Earl B. Mason is founding and senior pastor of the Bible-Based Fellowship Church of Temple Terrace, Inc. in Tampa, Florida. His congregation and ministry extend abroad through involvement as co-sponsor of African Relief Burkina Faso, West Africa, and most recently, a joint relief effort in the Gambia with the Hillsborough County Center of Excellence. He is an avid reader and a life long learner who sees himself as a Bible student, expository scholar, gospel singer, gospel songwriter, pastor, preacher, teacher and an evangelist. His spiritual acumen has led to dynamic Kingdom building. He is President of EBM Ministries, Kingdom Furniture, Child Care Center, Inc., and Cribbers Crawlers and Toddlers, Inc. of Bible-Based Fellowship Church, Inc., Tampa, Fla. Rev. Mason is active in community service and participates in several organizations, including the Temple Terrace Chamber of Commerce.

Rev. Dr. Michael Louis Pfleger
The Community of Saint Sabina
Chicago, Illinois

Father Michael Pfleger is the impassioned leader who guides the faithful of the Community of Saint Sabina, in Chicago, Ill. He is dedicated to justice, civic engagement and empowering the poor. Father Pfleger has been nationally recognized for his service, sacrifice and fight against alcohol and tobacco billboards, guns, drugs and systemic racism in People, Time, Ebony, Newsweek and Jet magazines; The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, U.S.A., Today, The Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Chicago Reader and numerous other papers and journals. He has also been profiled on the following television shows: "Day One" ABC; "60 Minutes" (CBS); BBC in Great Britain, the Larry King Show and Nightline. Rev. Dr. Michael Louis Pfleger received his B.A. in Theology from Loyola University, his Master of Divinity from the University of St. Mary of the Lake and an honorary Doctor of Divinity from North Park Theological Seminary. He has also completed post-graduate studies at Mundelein College and the Catholic Theological Union.

Rev. Dr. Joe Samuel Ratliff
Brentwood Baptist Church
Houston, Texas

Dr. Joe Ratliff has served as Pastor of Brentwood Baptist Church of Houston Texas since he was installed in February 1980. A native of Lumberton, North Carolina, he holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Morehouse College and both Master’s and Doctor of Divinity degrees from the Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC) in Atlanta. Dr. Ratliff is the first African-American pastor to lead the Union Baptist Association, the largest urban southern Baptist organization in the United States. He was inducted into the Martin Luther King Jr. Board of Preachers at Morehouse College, Atlanta in 1998 and was the keynote speaker for the 2002 Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C. Dr. Ratliff is founder of the Brentwood Community Foundation which has awarded over $900,000.00 in grants and scholarships to deserving youth since its inception. He is the founding president of the National African-American Fellowship of the Southern Baptist Convention, chairman of the Board of Trustees of Morehouse School of Religion, former chairman of the Board of Trustees of the ITC and member of the Board of Directors for The Houston Graduate School of Theology. Dr. Ratliff is married to the former Doris Ernestine Gardner.

Rev. Dr. William Marcus Small
New Calvary Baptist Church
Norfolk, Virginia

Rev. Dr. William Marcus Small, fifth senior pastor of the New Calvary Baptist Church, Norfolk, Va., has been guided throughout his ministry by a focused passion for learning and education. With a B.A. in philosophy and religion and Master of Divinity from Virginia Union University ‘s Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology, Small later pursued a doctorate from Palmer Seminary, concentrating on Marriage and Family Counseling. Dr. Small also completed Drew University’s Masters of Sacred Theology program. At New Calvary, Dr. Small has worked diligently to provide spiritual guidance to those in the surrounding Hampton Roads area in the context of the African American worship experience. He is a gifted teacher, lecturer and preacher who is dedicated to the liberating ministry of Jesus Christ and has an unquenchable thirst to help heal God’s people through a deeper understanding of God’s Word. Dr. Small is a member of a number of civic, social and national religious and community-based organizations.

Rev. Dr. Gina M. Stewart
Christ Missionary Baptist Church
Memphis, Tennessee

Dr. Gina Marcia Stewart serves as pastor of Christ Missionary Baptist Church in Memphis, Tenn., the same church where she was baptized. She is the first African American female to serve a Baptist congregation in Shelby County. She earned a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Memphis and a Master of Education from Trevecca Nazarene College in Nashville and a Master of Divinity from Memphis Theological Seminary. She received her Doctor of Ministry degree from ITC-Interdenominational Theological Center- (ITC)- Atlanta, Ga. Dr. Stewart has received numerous honors and awards for her outstanding service to the church and community. Dr. Stewart currently serves as a team leader for the Pastoral Excellence Program for the Lott Carey International, a global development, mission and advocacy organization.

Rev. Anthony L. Trufant
Emmanuel Baptist Church
Brooklyn, NY

Rev. Trufant has served as Pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Brooklyn, New York, since 1990 and has overseen its exponential growth in membership and programming into a multi-racial, 4,000-member congregation. Pastor Trufant’s Bible-based worldview and Christ-centered activism have been shaped, in part, by his Chicago boyhood and by spending the balance of his youth in San Francisco, where he interned under his uncle, the Rev. Dr. Amos C. Brown, at the community-changing Third Baptist Church. Receiving his Bachelor of Arts from Morehouse College and his Master of Divinity from Colgate Rochester, Rev. Trufant received a diploma in Pastoral Counseling from Post Graduate Center for Mental Health. Rev. Trufant is a certified Conflict Resolution Mediator, former Adjunct Professor at New York Theological and Auburn Theological Seminaries and is the recipient of numerous civic and religious awards. He was inducted into the Morehouse College of Ministers, was profiled in the book, The Messengers, by David Ritz, and had his sermon, “Worship that Pleases God” published in Oxford Sermons, Vol. 3 . He has been active in the Dallas-based, nationally-focused Leadership Network, and is a representative of the Urban Ministry Advantage, a web-based resource for pastors and churches and is a board member of Faith Partnerships, a progressive and prophetic advocacy organization. Rev. Trufant is married to Muriel Lynette Goode Trufant, Esq. (eldest daughter of former Philadelphia Mayor W. Wilson Goode, Sr. and Velma Goode) and they parent two young adult daughters.

Ms. Robin Williams
United Food and Commercial Workers International union (UFCW)
Washington, D.C.

Ms. Robin Williams is the Associate Director of the Civil Rights and Community Action Department for the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW). She brings years of experience to her role of coordinating with unions, civil rights, community organizations and religious leaders to mobilize support for campaigns and programs that give voice to working families. Ms. Williams is an Executive Board Member of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, the A. Philip Randolph Institute and a Trustee for the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference.

Rev. Starsky D. Wilson
Saint John’s Church (The Beloved Community)
St. Louis, MO

Reverend Starsky D. Wilson is a pastor, philanthropist and activist pursuing God's vision of community marked by justice, peace and love. He is president & CEO of Deaconess Foundation, pastor of Saint John's Church (The Beloved Community) and co-chair of the Ferguson Commission. Through Saint John's, Wilson has led congregational activism on myriad issues, including youth violence prevention, Medicaid expansion, public school accreditation, voter mobilization, capping payday lending and raising the minimum wage. In 2014, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon appointed Rev. Wilson co-chair of the Ferguson Commission, a group of sixteen citizens empowered to study the underlying conditions and make public policy recommendations to help the region progress through issues exposed by the tragic death of Michael Brown, Jr. On September 14, 2015 they released the ground-breaking 'Forward Through Ferguson: A Path Toward Racial Equity" Report, calling for sweeping changes in policing, the courts, child well-being and economic mobility. Starsky earned a bachelor of arts in political science from Xavier University of Louisiana, master of divinity from Eden Theological Seminary and is currently pursuing the doctor of ministry degree from Duke University’s Divinity School.

Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr.

Pastor Emeritus
Trinity United Church of Christ
Chicago, Illinois

Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr. is a man of great faith, a theological scholar and master homiletician. His ministry spans well over the half-century mark and is a
blueprint for making the Social Gospel relevant. His commitment to those who live on life’s margins is uncontested. His preaching style has been described as prophetic and it has been said that, “the weight of the Holy is upon his words.” Dr. Wright retired from Trinity United Church of Christ after 36 years, and remains a highly sought speaker throughout the world. He has four earned degrees: a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in English from Howard University, a Master of Arts in The History of Religions from the University of Chicago Divinity School and a Doctor of Ministry from the United Theological Seminary. Dr. Wright has taught hundreds of young seminarians the art of preaching and how to examine the Gospel and make it relevant to the listener and he is the author of many books and publications. He is a founding trustee of the SDPC and serves on the Board of Trustees of Virginia Union University.


The statue of the Haitian unnamed maroon memorializes the sacrifices, lives and the faith of an African people. It is this symbol of faith and liberation – a call to action with the Word of God – that has been adopted as the logo of Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, Inc.