The Seymour Institute was incorporated June 2014, but was incipient in several earlier organizations: The William J. Seymour Society at Harvard University in 1980-1987, the Seymour Institute for Advanced Church Studies (SIACS), a wing of the Azusa Christian Community from 1990-2005, and finally as the the Seymour Institute for Black Church and Policy Studies under the auspices of the Witherspoon Institute.
At Harvard the Seymour Society was run by black undergraduates who conducted peer-lead study groups, sponsored lectures by distinguished scholars of black life and inequality, and operated programs to benefit the black poor and published the Bulletin of The Seymour Society at Harvard University. SIACS sponsored the 21st Century Group, a study and networking group for young blacks interested in using their intellectual gifts in service of the black community. SIACS also published a prescient monograph on the biblical meaning of family in light of the black experience: God's Gift.
The Seymour Institute for Black Church and Policy Studies launched a series of seminars for church and lay leaders at Princeton Theological Seminary in 2014 with presentations on religious liberty by leading scholars such as John J. DiIulio, Jr. (University of Pennsylvania), David D. Daniels (McCormick Theological Institute), Cheryl J. Sanders (Howard School of Divinity) and Robert George (Princeton University).
Current projects focus on expanding the seminar series, launching the Black Church Commission on Bioethics, Human Life and Marriage, and playing a key role in an international symposium on marriage and the family hosted by the Vatican. One important topic being explored by the Seymour Institute is the effect of technological change on the participation of blacks in the labor market.
The William J. Seymour Institute for Black Church and Policy Studies will educate and train black church leaders (including clergy, seminarians, seminarians and lay men and women) as well as the interested public, regarding a proper christian philosophic and theological understanding of comples questions confronting the black church at this period in our history. An uncompromising commitment to the poor insies the Seymour Institute's mission because of the greater vulnerability of economically disadvantaged populations to the harms that arise from improper societal action in the areas of concern.
THE FOUNDING DIRECTOR
Eugene F. Rivers, III is the founder and director of the Seymour Institute for Black Church and Policy Studies and is a widely published writer and community activist who has lectured internationally.
THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Dr. Jacqueline C. Rivers is the Executive Director and Senior Fellow for Social Science and Policy of the Seymour Institute for Black Church and Policy Studies.