The Board of Trustees, President, Faculty, Staff, and students regret to announce the death of The Reverend Dr. Henry H. Mitchell who departed this life on January 15, 2022. His contribution to the life of the seminary through his scholarship, teaching and service have shaped the foundation on which Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School rests. With gratitude and pride, Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School honors the life and legacy of The Rev. Dr. Henry H. Mitchell.
Dr. Henry H. Mitchell was the founding director of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Fellows Project in Black Church Studies (BCS) and the first Martin Luther King, Jr. Professor of Black Church Studies at Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School (CRCDS). Dr. Mitchell dedicated his ministry to preaching and teaching and the work of the Black Church. The Black Church Studies program, established in 1969, with the assistance of the Lilly and the Irwin-Sweeney-Miller Foundations, emerged out of the vision and courage of students, faculty, and members of the Rochester community. Designed to provide leaders for the Black Church in the context of the universal Christian mission, the Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School Black Church Studies Program was the first seminary program of its kind in the nation. The Black Church Studies program hosted a distinguished list of preachers, past and present to grace the pulpits of churches around the world, among them, Dr. H. Beecher Hicks Sr., Dr. James Forbes, the late Dr. Wyatt T. Walker, and the Late Dr. William Augustus Jones.
Dr. Mitchell received his B.A. degree from Lincoln University, his B.D. and M.Div. degrees from Union Theological Seminary, his Th.D. degree from Claremont School of Theology, and his M.A. in Linguistics from California State University. He served as Professor of Religion and Pan African Studies at California State University and Academic Dean and Professor of History and Homiletics at the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University. He was the founding director of the Ecumenical Center for Black Church Studies (Claremont, CA.), and former adjunct faculty at Claremont School of Theology, Fuller Theological Seminary, American Baptist Seminary of the West, and University of LaVerne.
Dr. Mitchell authored several books, including the African American Church, Black Church Beginnings: The Long-Hidden Realities of the First Years. He also contributed to numerous journal articles, book chapters, and quarterly curricula in Christian education. Dr. Mitchell co-authored Together for Good: Lessons from Fifty-Five Years of Marriage with his wife, The Reverend Dr. Ella Pearson Mitchell.
The legacy of The Reverend Dr. Henry H. Mitchell's leadership at Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School rests in the school's current Black Religious Thought and Life Program. Building on the foundation he established, the program emphasizes public and personal dimensions of Black religious experience for emancipatory learning, living, and community service.