Rawlings School of Divinity


Doctor of Ministry (DMin)


Rodney Phillips


Succession, Pastors, Ministry, Black Church, Successor


Christianity | Religion | Religious Thought, Theology and Philosophy of Religion


This study addressed the relevance of assessing the attitudes and expectations of African American congregants regarding the succession and transition of their senior pastor. The study focused on a local church in Baltimore, Maryland. The research assumed that including laity within the succession planning of their senior pastor would produce a healthy transition and future of the church. It further examined how the lack of succession planning within the Black church has caused challenges that could be prevented. The literature and biblical text suggest that the people’s role in the success of their leader was critical to the operation of the ministry. The surveys administered to the church’s congregation revealed that 82% of respondents believed that two to four years was a sufficient timeframe for the founding pastor to transition the church to his successor and for the church to get acclimated. This information would not have been known without this study. After interviewing the church's founding pastor in question, he advised that assessing the congregants was relevant and needed. This study and research revealed that including congregants in succession planning can yield positive results.