Ralph Watkins is the assistant dean of the African American Church Studies Program and associate professor of society, religion, and Africana studies in the School of Theology. His work focuses on building bridges between young adults and the church in order to develop future leaders for the African American church.
With over 20 years of pastoral, teaching, and administrative experience, Watkins is an active teaching scholar with over 250 publications and conference presentations to his credit. He is the author of Leading Your African American Church Through Pastoral Transition
(2010), From Jay-Z to Jesus: Reaching and Teaching Young Adults in the Black Church
(co-authored with Benjamin Stephens) (2008), The Gospel Remix: Reaching the Hip Hop Generation
(2007), and I Ain’t Afraid to Speak My Mind
(2003), and he contributed the chapter “Rap, Religion, and New Realities: The Emergence of a Religious Discourse in Rap Music” to Noise and Spirit: The Religious Sensibilities of Rap Music
(2003), which is considered an outstanding treatment of hip-hop and theology. His next book project, Hip-Hop Redemption: Finding God in the Music and the Message
, is to be released in 2011.
In recent years, Watkins has received a Governor’s Teaching Fellowship, Lilly Teaching Fellowship, Fulbright Hayes Fellowship for a study in Ghana, a Wabash Teaching Fellowship, and various awards and grants to study the African roots of African American theology in Kenya, Tanzania, Egypt, Ethiopia and Ghana. He is ordained in the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) denomination and serves as the executive pastor of First African Methodist Episcopal Church in Los Angeles under Rev. Dr. John J. Hunter.
Areas of Expertise, Research, Writing, and Teaching:
African-American studies, Africana theology/Black theology, hip-hop culture, and urban evangelism