Ecumenical Center for Black Church Studies

Ecumenical Center for Black Church Studies

With more than 40 years of history in the greater Los Angeles area, the Ecumenical Center for Black Church Studies (“ECBCS”) at the University of La Verne is at the heart of a theological tradition built for our contemporary age. In addition to granting a bachelor’s degree in religion, ECBCS draws upon the rich legacy of liberation theology as seen through the African-American religious tradition to craft a truly unique contextualized investigation into religious life in the 21st century.

ECBCS is offered to students in the fall and spring terms at Christ Our Redeemer Church in Irvine. Partnering with key churches and their leadership, the program provides unique educational opportunities for theologically-based community engagement throughout Southern California.

A Storied History

Such efforts are woven into the history of Los Angeles itself. In November of 1973, Dr. Horace Mays of the Los Angeles Council of Churches convened an ecumenical workshop on “Education and Ministry in the Black Church and Community.” It was there that ECBCS developed, supported in part by bishops from the African Methodist Episcopal, African Methodist Episcopal Zion, and Christian Methodist Episcopal churches.

A permanent steering committee selected Dr. Henry H. Mitchell as the first Director of ECBCS. The SHARE Program of the Church of the Brethren, in coordination with the University, offered funding for a half time program administrator; Fuller Seminary and the School of Theology later joined the team. Classes opened in the fall of 1974.

In 1988, a partnership with the American Baptist Theological Center was established to provide accredited degrees for students of the American Baptist Church serving Latino communities.

Through this unique partnership with faith-based organizations, the University of La Verne educates moral leaders of the community by continuing a legacy established by the institution’s founders. ECBCS encapsulates the University’s Mission Statement in the best possible ways. Learn more about the faculty of ECBCS here.


Courses within the ECBCS are offered in the evenings and on weekends at: Christ Our Redeemer Church, 45 Tesla, Irvine, CA 92618. Click here to download the admission application.