the carl spain center

Experience a renewed “inward orientation.”

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About THE CENTER

History

The Carl Spain Center on Race Studies and Spiritual Action was founded in 2018 by Dr. Jerry Taylor, Associate Professor of Bible at Abilene Christian University (ACU). Dr. Taylor chose to name the new center after Carl Spain, a legendary figure at Abilene Christian College (ACC), presently known as Abilene Christian University (ACU). His prophetic voice was a catalyst for change on the campus in the mid 1900’s. Dr. Spain, an ACC Bible professor, used speech at the 1960 Abilene Christian College Lectures to challenge the school and other Christian colleges to open their doors to Black students. While he was greatly outnumbered in his sentiment and lost favor with many people, the school soon changed its whites-only policy and began admitting black students the following academic year.

 

The Carl Spain Center is a continuation of Dr. Jerry Taylor’s life work to foster racial unity within Churches of Christ, their affiliate institutions, and throughout the Kingdom of God. Prior to founding the Spain Center, Dr. Taylor convened numerous national and local events that brought Black and white Christians together to equip them to work toward racial unity. Such events have included two National Freedom in Christ Conferences (2011 and 2013); Racial Unity Leadership Summits in Nashville, TN (2014), Memphis, TN (2015), Abilene, TX, (2015), Los Angeles, CA (2015), and Fresno, CA (2016); and a Young Scholars Retreat (2015). Since the inception of the Spain Center in 2018, this work has been expanded with the Dallas Racial Unity Summit (2019) in honor of Botham Jean, a Black Church of Christ member from Saint Lucia who was slain by an off-duty white Dallas police officer; Racial Unity Prayer Retreats in Dallas, TX (2019), El Paso, TX (2020) in the wake of the racially motivated mass killings at a local Walmart, and Birmingham, AL (2020); and with the creation of numerous virtual Think Tanks across the nation to address racial unity. The Spain Center held the “Community Rally and Press Conference: A Call for National Unity” in June 2020 in response to the national unrest and call for police reform triggered by the death of George Floyd, an African American man killed in March of the same year by white Minneapolis police officers. The Spain Center conducted a virtual Racial Unity Leadership Summit and a virtual Conference on White Supremacy in October 2020. The list is not exhaustive.

 

Through the work of the Spain Center, lines of communication, previously non-existent, are being initiated between black and white church leaders and multiracial, localized alliances that include area ministers are beginning to form. Dr. Taylor has also delivered many sermons and other presentations on racial unity and has consulted individually with numerous churches and church leaders as they attempt to respond to the need for racial unity in their own unique contexts. The work continues…

Photo Credit: ACU University Marketing

mission / vision

The Carl Spain Center on Race Studies and Spiritual Action was created to honor the legacy of Carl Spain by conducting conduct research on the historical and contemporary role of race and racism in the church and its Christian institutions. The Center heavily emphasizes spiritual formation by utilizing prayer, solitude, biblical meditation, and silence as methods to address racism that is often “spiritualized” in the hearts of Christians. The Center seeks to equip churches, church leaders and lay members alike, to understand and respond to the call for racial unity by providing experiences, resources, and tools expand their understanding of the racism and to draw them closer to God and, in so doing, draw them closer to other Christ followers regardless of race.

The Carl Spain Center on Race Studies and Spiritual Action honors the courage and legacy of Carl Spain, an ACU professor who challenged the school to open its doors to Black students with his speech, “Modern Challenges to Christian Morals,” at the 1960 ACU Lectures (formerly ACC).

 “The spirit of racism can only be put to rest when people of all races join together in experiencing a renewed “inward orientation.” Genuine social integration is impossible in the absence of a pre-established “spiritual” integration involving the hearts, minds, and souls of the interactive participants.” – Dr. Jerry Taylor, Founder and Director

staff

Dr. Jerry Taylor, Founding Director of the Carl Spain Center

Dr. Jerry Andrew Taylor, Founding Director of the Carl Spain Center, is Associate Professor of Bible, Missions and Ministry at Abilene Christian University. In 1984 he received a Bachelor of Arts in Bible from Southwestern Christian College in Terrell, Texas. In 1988 Dr. Taylor received a Master of Divinity degree from Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University and went on to complete his doctorate in ministry at Perkins School of Theology in 1995. Prior to moving to Abilene Dr. Taylor and his family served in the Bankhead area of the inner city of Atlanta, Georgia. On top of serving as the Director of the Carl Spain Center, Dr. Taylor travels extensively speaking on college campuses, conferences, and retreats. He is the author of “Courageous Compassion. He has began many initiatives such as the New Wineskins Retreat, the National Freedom in Christ Conference, the Young Scholars Retreat, and most recently the Racial Unity Leadership Summit (RULS) and RULS Spiritual Retreat. He is married to Patricia (Bowden) Taylor formerly of Houston, Texas. They have been married for 26 years and have two children, Alisha (25) and Jeremiah (19). The Taylor family lives in Abilene, Texas.

Phone: (325) 674-3760
Email: carlspaincenter@gmail.com

Kip Kiplagat, Executive Assistant of the Carl Spain Center

Kip Kiplagat, Executive Assistant for the Carl Spain Center, Abilene Christian University (’16, ’20) In May 2016, he completed his Bachelor of Arts in Bible and Ministry with a focus in Missions. In August 2020, he completed his Master of Arts in Global Service from Abilene Christian University. Kip’s hope is that his work with the Carl Spain Center and throughout his career will assist the collective body of Christ in taking its place at the forefront of the pursuit of racial unity and justice in the world today.

Phone: (737) 217-1150
Email: carlspaincenter@gmail.com

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    Spiritual Formation

    The Carl Spain Center on Race Studies and Spiritual Action is committed to the spiritual formation of persons who desire to join God’s ministry of racial healing. By spiritual formation, we mean the “spiritual, intellectual, social, and emotional development” of human beings endowed with the Creator’s image through spiritual practices, scholarly research, and diverse community. Our primary foundation for practices, research, and community is God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

    Spiritual Practices

    Spiritual practices or spiritual disciplines are activities or exercises that aim to direct one’s entire mind, body, and soul towards deep engagement with God and interactive sharing of life with others. These practices engage people at both the individual and community levels. By taking part in these practices, we will not only foster substantial social camaraderie with one another, but will also heighten our own intimacy with God that renders us open to the Spirit’s transforming power across the lines of racial distinctions.

    Scholarly Research

    Critical inquiry into the subject of race through sound theological lenses requires a deep commitment to intellectual qualities like, humility, open-mindedness, and attentiveness. In this sense, the spiritual life and the life of the mind are not independent of one another but are to be viewed as a unified whole. The Center aims to share its scholarly research by providing materials, educational opportunities, and other relevant resources to any who have a desire to deepen their understanding on race and its function in the church and broader society.

    Diverse Community

    Community is an essential dimension for proper spiritual formation. While some spiritual practices require our individual attention, not all are to be practiced in total isolation. Similarly, critical inquiry and dialogue on subjects like race almost guarantee productive argument. However, as we find value in robust conversation, we also value and prioritize a commitment to one another as fellow human beings created in the image of the same God. The Center will thus provide events that not only foster meaningful dialogue but also serve as a catalyst for deepening the bonds of friendship between people across lines of race.

    Racial Unity Leadership Events

    The Carl Spain Center on Race Studies & Spiritual Action hosts annual Racial Unity Leadership events across the country to enhance individuals and develop their leadership. The goal of our Racial Unity Leadership events is to provide spiritual formation and an educational learning experience in order for us to have a deep impact on communities of faith through the exercise of spiritual disciplines. We accomplish this goal by gathering each May for what we call our Racial Unity Leadership Summit and each December for our National Racial Unity Leadership Prayer Retreat. We hope you can join us! Visit our events page for more details on upcoming Racial Unity Leadership events.

    Racial Unity Leadership Summit (RULS)

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