Date of Award

Spring 2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Joshua D. Henson

Second Advisor

Dr. Bethany Peters

Third Advisor

Dr. Carlo Serrano


The study of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is complex and multilayered. Similarly, the study of DEI within an ecclesiastical and ecumenical Christian movement like the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) has its challenges. Challenges and tensions surrounding the SBC, relating to women's leadership issues, the infiltration of partisanship and politics in the pulpits, racial injustice flashpoint moments, and the lack of ethnic diversity in a crucial leadership position have impacted the overall lived experience of African American pastors and leaders. This phenomenological study explored the Southern Baptist Convention's perception of diversity, equity, and inclusion compared to African American pastors’ and leaders' actual lived experiences. The purpose of this research was to study DEI from three perspectives: women in leadership from a faith-based perspective, racial injustice within ecclesiastical and denominational settings, and the SBC’s inner workings and its perceptions of women in leadership and perception of racial injustice on the national, state, and local level. The findings confirmed that African American pastors and leaders not only have concerns about the current direction of the SBC but acknowledge some differences in the lived experiences based on the level within the convention that one serves. The research findings also revealed growth opportunities and some positive perspectives. Keywords: diversity, equity, inclusion, Southern Baptist Convention, African American, pastors, women, racial injustice