The Rev. Velma Love, author and program director of the Howard University School of Divinity’s “Equipping the Saints Project,” is this year’s Nannie Helen Burroughs lecturer. The lecture will be held 5:30 p.m., April 1, in the Howard Thurman Chapel at the School of Divinity.

Rev. Love, author of the 2012 book Divining the Self: A Study in Yoruba Myth and Human Consciousness, is overseeing the School of Divinity’s $1 million, three-year research grant from the Lilly Endowment to study African-American churches in three cities and one rural location and document the best practices in those communities that lead to the spiritual, physical, social and mental health of Black congregations.

Under her guidance, divinity school faculty, doctoral students and other researchers are working in Atlanta, Detroit, Tuskegee and Washington, D.C. where they will explore a broad range of subjects that affect or are affected by Black spiritual worship and practice.

They will be looking at everything from youth, economic development and the worship experience to mental health, HIV/AIDS and the formerly incarcerated.
The lecture is named after Nannie Helen Burroughs (1879-1961), an educator, orator, religious leader and businesswoman. She gained national recognition for her 1900 speech, “How the Sisters Are Hindered from Helping,” at the National Baptist Convention. She founded the National Training School for Women and Girls at 601 50th St., NE., Washington, in 1909. The school has since been named after her and provides elementary education.

The lecture was begun in 1985 as the Feminine in Religious Traditions Lecture by the Rev. Lawrence N. Jones, dean of the School of Divinity from 1975 to 1991. Jones said he wanted the lecture to “represent the Divinity School’s commitment to raise the level of dialogue about women in ministry to the highest level of scholarship and research.” The name was changed in 2009.

Prior to joining the School of Divinity, Love was an associate professor of Religious Studies at Florida A&M University and former assistant director of the Institute for Signifying Scriptures at Claremont Graduate University, where she also received her doctorate degree. She previously served as project assistant/research associate for the African Americans and the Bible Multi-Disciplinary Project at Union Theological Seminary, where she also received her master’s in divinity.