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Dwight Radcliff Named Assistant Professor of Mission, Theology, and Culture and Director of the William E. Pannell Center for African American Church Studies

Fuller Theological Seminary is excited to announce the appointment of Dwight Radcliff Jr. as director of the William E. Pannell Center for African American Church Studies and assistant professor of mission, theology, and culture, effective July 1, 2019. Dr. Radcliff will work alongside Assistant Provost Clifton Clarke in Southern California and in collaboration with Vince Bantu, assistant professor of church history and Black church studies, in Texas in the work of the Pannell Center advancing Black church scholarship, nurturing connections with local churches, and providing mentorship and advocacy for African American students.

“Dr. Dwight Radcliff is an exciting addition to the Pannell Center team,” said Dr. Clarke. “As a former student of Fuller, Dr. Radcliff is the ideal person to support the formation of students and the promotion of Black church studies at Fuller. As a pastor and scholar, he brings tremendous ministry experience and insight with regard to the opportunities and challenges facing the Black church in America in the 21st century.” Regarding his new position, Radcliff said he hopes to “contribute significantly to the current work and legacy of the Pannell Center” as he joins Fuller leadership in an historic season of change.

In addition to his mentored teaching opportunities at Fuller as an MDiv and then PhD student, Radcliff has extensive teaching experience at Vanguard University, Azusa Pacific University, and the Southern California School of Ministry. He also has over 20 years experience in pastoral ministry, and currently serves as senior pastor of The Message Center in Gardena, California, where he leads with his wife, DeShun Jones-Radcliff, who serves as the church’s director of administration.

While completing his MDiv in Fuller’s School of Theology, Radcliff was recognized with several awards and scholarships, including the prestigious Parish Pulpit Fellowship graduation prize and the Hooper/Keefe Preaching Award. He earned his PhD in Fuller’s School of Intercultural Studies; in that time he received both a Pannell Fellowship and a King Fellowship. While a student, Radcliff served Fuller as an admissions department ambassador and as a member and officer of the Africana Student Association. He completed post-master’s studies at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas and the University of Oxford.

His dissertation, “The Message: A Hip Hop Hermeneutic as a Missiological Model,” is summarized by Johnny Ramírez-Johnson, professor of anthropology and dissertation chair, as “a missiology of hip-hop that offers an untapped and unexpected way of using the despair experienced by youth in the same way Jesus used the elements of agricultural society for communicating the gospel.” Portions of his doctoral research have already been published in a peer-reviewed article in The Journal of Hip Hop Studies and presented in multiple professional, ministry, educational, and popular contexts.

As President Mark Labberton noted, “Dwight Radcliff’s appointment to our faculty and to the work of the Pannell Center is a very important opportunity for us at Fuller. He understands Fuller––both our strengths and our weaknesses––and his clear, prophetic, pastoral voice and leadership will bring change to faculty and students, to the Pannell Center, and to the seminary.”

Remarking on the historic and long overdue appointment of the first African American faculty person to the School of Intercultural Studies, current Dean of the School of Intercultural Studies Peter Lim said, “Dr. Dwight Radcliff understands the importance of promoting unity without compromising diversity. We are so blessed to witness this historic moment of his hiring.”

Incoming Dean of the School of Theology and of the School of Intercultural Studies Amos Yong remembered, “When I first began directing the PhD in Intercultural Studies five years ago, MDiv graduate Dwight Radcliff was at the top of our list to recruit to the program. He started in the summer of 2015 and worked impressively and efficiently with his research triangulating across three fields—homiletics, contemporary cultural studies, and hip-hop studies—to develop a robust theological and transnational framework for preaching and participation in the global missio Dei. He finished his PhD in Intercultural Studies in near record time (under four years!) and I am now elated that we get to welcome Dr. Radcliff as faculty colleague and director of the Pannell Center.”  

Please join us in welcoming Dr. Radcliff to his new role at Fuller.