Dale P. Andrews, MA’97, PhD’98: ‘Culture of collegiality’

Andrews gives the keynote address at Elon University’s 2013 Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Program. Watch the address.
Andrews gives the keynote address at Elon University’s 2013 Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Program. Watch the address. (ELON UNIVERSITY)


Dale P. Andrews, a teacher, minister, social justice activist, and renowned scholar on the art of preaching, died June 23 in Nashville of cancer. He was 55.

Andrews was Distinguished Professor of Homiletics, Social Justice and Practical Theology and held a Cornelius Vanderbilt Chair at Vanderbilt Divinity School. He had joined the divinity faculty in 2010.

“Dale breathed a life of faith and love in his scholarship, his ministry, his relationships, his teaching,” says Emilie M. Townes, dean of the Divinity School and the E. Rhodes and Leona Carpenter Professor of Womanist Ethics and Society. “Known for his booming laugh, his ability to create community, and his deep love of fellowship and friendship, he helped shape a culture of collegiality and fierce academic excellence in the Divinity School and wider academic community.”

For the past year Andrews had been collaborating with an interdisciplinary group of faculty on developing a curriculum for training activists and scholars on how to address ongoing and emerging issues related to racial justice. The project was among the 2016 winners of Vanderbilt’s Trans-Institutional Programs (TIPs) funding initiative.

Andrews also was co-founder of a program funded by the Lilly Endowment to train coaches who help preachers improve and enrich their sermon preparation and communication skills.He and John McClure, the Charles G. Finney Professor of Preaching and Worship, launched the David G. Buttrick Certificate Program in Homiletics Peer Coaching in 2015.

Among other works, Andrews was author of Practical Theology for Black Churches: Bridging Black Theology and African American Folk Religion (2002, Westminster John Knox). At the time of his death, he was working on two books about the preaching tradition in the Black Church.

An ordained minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, Andrews had served AME Zion churches in Connecticut, New Jersey and Massachusetts. In addition to his Vanderbilt degrees, he earned a master of divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary and was a visiting research fellow at the University of Oxford.

He taught at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary and Boston University School of Theology before joining Vanderbilt’s faculty. He had served as president of the Academy of Homiletics and the Association of Practical Theology.