2021 Commencement Week Spotlight: Dr. Christopher Williams

The entertainment industry boasts about the celebrities who have reached EGOT status—as winners of Emmy-Grammy-Oscar-Tony Awards. Alliance Theological Seminary and Nyack College applauds one of our own who has completed an impressive list of academic acronyms.

Alumnus Christopher Williams began his steady rise to the ATS Doctor of Ministry (2021) by graduating with an Associate of Science in music (2014); a Bachelor of Arts in music (2016); a Master of Arts in biblical studies (2017). The life-long learner also completed a post-graduate certificate program in leadership at John Jay College in 2019. His higher education studies covered the full spectrum of Nyack/ATS programs from associate’s degree to doctorate and he points out another distinctive.

“Although I was registered as an online student, I attended both online and in-person classes, which gave me the flexibility to serve in ministry full-time, work, and be a full-time student,” he explains. “One of the advantages of pursuing the Master of Arts in Biblical Studies online was the weekly task of communicating with my classmates. Almost every class had a discussion post assignment which encouraged students to work collaboratively. This particular element enhanced the learning outcomes through shared insights from each student and group development.”

The ordained Baptist minister progressed from College to Seminary in a welcoming academic community where diversity goes beyond ethnicity, age or denomination.

“I applied to the D.Min. program at ATS because of the experience I had in the master’s degree program. Not only was I impacted academically, but I also experienced life change through the application of my new knowledge of God’s Word. I saw the growth that Seminary afforded me and knew that the D.Min. program would enhance my ability to lead others in the same direction. I knew it was a calling.”

The call that Dr. Williams has responded to could not have been answered at a better time, considering the social and racial climate in our nation.

“One of the most significant highlights of my dissertation is the implication and the power of influence that pastoral care has on law enforcement officers. The research revealed that spiritually healthy officers are less impacted by work-related stressors, and therefore, better serve their communities.”

His plan is to use his dissertation research in ministry to law enforcement officers and outreach to law enforcement agencies by sharing the information as a contribution to policing reform and enhancing the effectiveness of pastoral care.

At Greater Zion Hill Baptist Church in Harlem, he is a candidate for the office of senior pastor. While the ATS D.Min. program gave him the flexibility to carry out his role on the ministerial staff, the full gamut of his responsibilities has not been for the faint of heart.

“While sitting as a candidate, I maintain the duties of the pastoral office by administering the ordinances, teaching, conducting funerals, weddings and worship services. The COVID-19 pandemic has stretched me and required that I also carry out my duties as a missionary by feeding the hungry, visiting the sick, distributing personal protection equipment (mask, gloves, sanitizer), maintaining weekly prayer and organizing virtual events. These recent efforts have been in collaboration with my church and local government agencies. I have worked closely with the Mayor’s office and the Governor’s office to maintain safety in and around my church during the pandemic.”

The pandemic has taken its toll—physically, emotionally, and spiritually—on literally millions. The D.Min. degree has uniquely prepared Christopher Williams for ministry outreach. He names one part of the ATS program in particular that has equipped him for healthy leadership.

“The course on Soul Care provided me with practical approaches to holistically minister to persons in both the marketplace and the Church.” The Soul Care course is based on the internationally acclaimed book of the same name written by ATS Associate Professor of Pastoral Theology, Dr. Rob Reimer.

As a bi-vocational minister who worked a full-time job with full-time ministry duties—all while being a full-time student, Christopher Williams leaves Nyack/ATS as Dr. Christopher Williams. He shares these parting words of wisdom for prospective Nyack/ATS students: “I believe that education is a calling. If you have been called, the Bible affirms, “He which hath begun a good work in you, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). Whatever God has called you to, He will carry you through.”