Dr. James Deotis Roberts

By The Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference

The Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, Inc. (SDPC) joins the academic community in expressing sorrow at the passing of one of its giants, Dr. James Deotis Roberts.

Dr. Roberts made his transition to be with the ancestors Tuesday, July 26, 2022.

Dr. Roberts, the fourth president of the Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC) from 1980 to 1983, was a 2014 recipient of SDPC’s “Beautiful Are Their Feet” award, given annually to those who have demonstrated extraordinary work in social justice.

Born in Spindale, North Carolina, July 12, 1927, Dr. Roberts was a renowned scholar who earned his PhD in Philosophical Theology and a Doctor of Letters degree from the University of Edinburgh, as well as earned degrees from Shaw University, Howard University, and Hartford Theological Seminary.

Dr. Roberts was a pioneer in the field of Black Theology and known for his critique of James Cone’s Black Theology and Black Power. He was author of several books including The Prophethood of Black Believers: An African American Theology for Ministry, Black Theology in Dialogue, Black Religion, Black Theology, and Africentric Christianity: A Theological Appraisal for Ministry.

SDPC General Secretary, Rev. Dr. Iva E. Carruthers, shared, “We know that death is a part of life, and surely, Dr. Roberts lived a full and productive life with work that will impact students of ministry forever. It is still hard, though, to see them transition. Dr. Roberts was a force to contend with, and we will all miss him.”

“We will make sure that the young people who are coming along know about Dr. Roberts and study his work,” she said. “He was instrumental in our work to build bridges between the church and the academy, and we can do no less than continue that legacy.”

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