Dr. Forrest E. Harris, Sr. is president of American Baptist College. With twenty-eight years in theological education and as director of Black Church Studies at Vanderbilt University Divinity School, Professor Forrest E. Harris has become nationally recognized as being one of the most progressive scholars, theological educators and visionary for prophetic Christianity in the Black Church tradition. Harris holds a B.A. from Knoxville College, Th.B. from American Baptist College, M. Div. and Doctor of Ministry degrees from Vanderbilt University Divinity School where he was a Benjamin E. Mays Fellow and received the Florence Conwell prize for preaching. Harris is accredited with the distinction of making a significant contribution to the academy and the church by bridging academic theology with the practical ministry needs of the church.
Since 1988, Professor Harris led the Divinity School’s Kelly Miller Smith Institute on Black Church Studies to national acclaim as the only such Institute with a $1.8 million-dollar endowment in the country. With grants from major foundations totaling over $4 million dollars, Harris coordinated a national ecumenical dialogue involving over 12,000 people, launched a Theology and Ministry Project for congregations and established Vanderbilt Divinity School as institutional host for the first online Lectionary for African American churches.
Prior to coming to Vanderbilt, Professor Harris was a Federal Compliance Officer with the Energy and Research Development Administration where as a compliance officer he received a Special Achievement Certificate Cash Award for negotiating a $1.2 million affected class remedy for minorities and females in the Southeast United States.
Dr. Harris has published three books: What Does It Mean To Be Black and Christian: The Pulpit, Pew and the Academy in Dialogue (Townsend Press); and Ministry for Social Crisis: Theology and Praxis in the Black Church Tradition (Mercer University Press), and What Does It Mean To Be Black and Christian: The Meaning of the African American Church.