Polity, Politics & the Pastor: Prophetic Work of Succession Planning in the Black Baptist Church

Itang Hope Young Essien, Fordham University


Current bodies of knowledge highlighting succession planning in the Black Baptist church is deficient. The literature that does exist is primarily focused on Black Baptist church succession planning in a specific geographic region of the United States. With many Black Baptist church pastors facing imminent retirement, it is crucial that ecclesiastical succession planning be explored. Utilizing a phenomenological framework, this research inquiry explored succession strategies used by Black Baptist church pastors across the United States as they developed emerging leaders and prepared for future pastoral transitions. To better understand this phenomenon and address the research questions, data were collected via semi-structured interviews with 14 Black Baptist pastors, a focus group, and document analysis. The data revealed four major research themes: leadership, leadership development, succession planning, and organizational culture and governance. The related sub-themes included: perceptions of leadership; mentoring, education and training; development of women leaders; lack of succession planning; succession planning as a spiritual function; sustainability; polity; ecclesiastical politics; and pastoral motivation.

Subject Area

Religious education|Educational leadership|Black studies

Recommended Citation

Young Essien, Itang Hope, "Polity, Politics & the Pastor: Prophetic Work of Succession Planning in the Black Baptist Church" (2022). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI29208806.