Kelly Brown Douglas ’82, ’88

Dean of Episcopal Divinity School at Union and Bill and Judith Moyers Chair in Theology, Union Theological Seminary


3041 Broadway, AD 136
New York, NY 10027


B.S. Denison University
M.Div. Union Theological Seminary, 1982
Ph.D. Union Theological Seminary, 1988


The Very Reverend Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas was named Dean of the Episcopal Divinity School at Union Theological Seminary and Professor of Theology at Union in September 2017.  She was named the Bill and Judith Moyers Chair in Theology in November 2019.  She also serves as the Canon Theologian at the Washington National Cathedral and Theologian in Residence at Trinity Church Wall Street.

Prior to Union, Dean Douglas served as Professor of Religion at Goucher College where she held the Susan D. Morgan Professorship of Religion and is now Professor Emeritus.  Before Goucher, she was Associate Professor of Theology at Howard University School of Divinity (1987-2001) and Assistant Professor of Religion at Edward Waters College (1986-1987).

Dean Douglas is widely published in national and international journals and other publications.  Her groundbreaking and widely taught book Sexuality and the Black Church: A Womanist Perspective (1999) was the first to address the issue of homophobia within the black church community.  Her latest book, Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God (2015), examines the challenges of a “Stand Your Ground” culture for the black church.

Douglas’ other books include The Black Christ (1994, 25th Anniversary edition 2019), What’s Faith Got to Do with It?: Black Bodies/Christian Souls (2005) and Black Bodies and the Black Church: A Blues Slant (2012), which seeks to move the black church beyond its oppressive views toward LGBTQ bodies and sexuality in general.

In addition, Dean Douglas is the co-editor of Sexuality and the Sacred: Sources for Theological Reflection (2010).  She has been a pioneering and highly sought-after voice in regard to addressing sexual issues in relation to the black religious community.  She has been very active in advocating equal rights for LGBTQ persons.

Dean Douglas is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Denison University where she earned a bachelor of science summa cum laude in psychology.  She went on to earn a master of divinity and a doctoral degree in systematic theology from Union Theological Seminary under James Cone, Ph.D., the premier black theologian.  While at Union, she received The Hudnut Award for demonstrated preaching excellence and the Julius Hanson Award as the outstanding theological student.

A native of Dayton, Ohio, Dean Douglas was ordained at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in 1983 — the first black woman to be ordained an Episcopal priest in the Southern Ohio Diocese, and one of only five nationwide at the time.  She also was the first to receive the Anna Julia Cooper Award by the Union of Black Episcopalians (July 2012) for “her literary boldness and leadership in the development of a womanist theology and discussing the complexities of Christian faith in African-American contexts.”

Dean Douglas was an Associate Priest at Holy Comforter Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C. for over 20 years.

She is a member of the American Academy of Religion, The Society for the Study of Black Religion, The Ecumenical Association for Third World Theologians and on The Board of Scholars for Ms. Magazine.

Recent Courses

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