Peter Rhea and Ellen Jones New Testament Lectures

2019 New Testament Lectures

The Jones Lectures in New Testament Studies were established in 2008 in order to enable theology students to hear the finest New Testament scholars in the world in the course of their studies at McAfee. The lecture series was made possible by a gift from the Rev. Peter Rhea Jones and his wife, Ellen. Jones is professor of New Testament and preaching at McAfee.  He served as pastor of First Baptist Church in Decatur for 21 years before joining the McAfee faculty. 

"An African American Interpretation of Scripture"

March 18-19, 2019

Mercer University, Atlanta Campus
3001 Mercer University Drive 
Atlanta, Georgia 30341

All events located in the Atlanta Administration and Conference Center
Atlanta Campus Map

The lectures are free to seminary students.


If you are with a congregation and interested in bringing a group with you, please contact Nikki Hardeman at

Hotel Suggestion

Hampton Inn at Northlake 
3400 Northlake Parkway NE
Atlanta, Georgia 30341
(Ask for the Mercer Univeristy Rate!)




1:00 p.m. 

2:00 p.m.
After Thurman:  Strides toward a New Identity
Thomas B. Slater, Ph.D.
Professor of New Testament Language & Literature at McAfee School of Theology

3:30 p.m. – Break

4:00 p.m.
Surviving Rome: Womanist Interpretation as Prophetic Language of Resistance 
Mitzi J. Smith, Ph.D.
Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Ashland Theological Seminary

5:30 p.m. – Dinner Break

7:00 p.m.
No Longer Invisible: Afrocentric Biblical Interpretation
Kenneth L. Waters, Sr., Ph.D.
Associate Dean for the School of Theology at Azusa Pacific University


11:00 a.m. -12:30 p.m.
Panel Discussion with all Lecturers.



Tom Slater's headshot

Thomas B. Slater, PhD is Professor of New Testament Language & Literature at Mercer's, McAfee School of Theology in Atlanta, Georgia,  He received his bachelor's degree from Arkansas Tech University (in journalism with honors) and the Master of Theology (MTh=M.Div.) and the Doctor of Ministry (DMin. [Christian Education]) degrees, respectively, from Perkins School of Theology, and Southern Methodist University. Before coming to McAfee, Slater worked at Jackson Theological Seminary in N. Little Rock, Arkansas, Birkbeck College in London and the University of Georgia. Dr. Slater has published and continues to publish in scholarly journals and venues around the world (e.g, Journal of Biblical Literature, New Testament Studies, Biblica) and currently serves on the editorial board of Review & Expositor.  Dr. Slater has written two books and edited a third: Christ and Community (Bloombury T&T Clark), a commentary on the book of Ephesians in the Smyth & Helwys Commentary Series, and Afrocentric Interpretations of Jesus and the Gospel Tradition (Edwin Mellen) which is a collection of ten essays by African American New Testament scholars using several different perspectives and working from different social locations. 

An ordained elder in full connection in the Georgia North Region of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, Dr. Slater has pastored five congregations in Arkansas, Virginia and Georgia and been an associate pastor in four other congregations.  He currently serves as chair of the Georgia North Committee on Ministerial Examinations & Conference Relations and is a member of his denomination's Task Force for the Revision of the Articles of Religion. Dr. Slater is the first African American to receive a Ph.D in biblical studies in the United Kingdom.

Mitzi Smith's headshot

Mitzi J. Smith, PhD is professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Ashland Theological Seminary in Ashland, Ohio. Dr. Smith earned a PhD in Religion from Harvard University, a Master of Divinity from Howard University School of Divinity, a Master of Arts in Black Studies from Ohio State University, and a Bachelor degree from Columbia Union College. Her compassion and creative leadership combine to produce a classroom environment filled with laughter, inspiration, and challenging academics.

One of the most pivotal points in Dr. Smith's life was when she decided to pursue the call to ministry, even as those around her were convinced that women don't belong in Christian leadership. At the risk of losing others' approval, Dr. Smith began the journey, realizing that her call was from God, rather than a specific denomination or school of thought. She stepped out in faith, knowing that God transcends denominations and institutions.

Whenever she can squeeze a trip into her schedule, Dr. Smith loves to see the world. The list of destinations to which she's traveled is large and continually growing. She's explored such interesting places as Greece, Ecuador, Jamaica, Maui, Cancun, Italy and many more! Her desire is to visit more natural wonders within the United States over the next few years. When she's not hopping from continent to continent, Dr. Smith enjoys urban ballroom dancing, exercise, and a wide range of music, from opera to country to rap.

Kenneth Water's Headshot

Kenneth L. Waters Sr., Ph.D., is the Associate Dean for the School of Theology at Azusa Pacific University. He is also a licensed and ordained minister in the Missionary Baptist Church and has served as a pastor in the Methodist Church for 28 years. His expertise is in the New Testament and early Christian literature, the book of Revelation and other apocalyptic literature, Second Temple Judaism and the Greco-Roman world, biblical and Christian ethics, the personalities of Jesus and Paul, and African American religious thought and history.