Union Theological Seminary Student Life


James A. Forbes, Jr., '62

James Forbes

Harry Emerson Fosdick Distinguished Professor


3041 Broadway, RM 522
New York, NY 10027


Special Assistant to Professor James A. Forbes, Jr.

Kali Wilder


The Rev. Dr. James Alexander Forbes, Jr., Harry Emerson Fosdick Distinguished Professor, is founder and president of the Healing of the Nations Foundation. In 2007 he was the host of “The Time is Now” on Air America Radio.

In national and international religious circles, Dr. Forbes is known as the preacher’s preacher because of his extensive preaching career and his charismatic style.  In its March 4, 1996 issue Newsweek Magazine recognized Forbes as one of the 12 “most effective preachers” in the English-speaking world.  This pastor, educator, administrator, community activist and interfaith leader was twice designated as one of America’s greatest Black preachers by Ebony Magazine.

Dr. Forbes has earned three degrees and has been awarded 14 honorary degrees.  He earned a doctor of ministry degree from Colgate-Rochester Divinity School in Rochester, NY; a master of divinity degree from Union Theological Seminary in New York City, NY; and a bachelor of science in chemistry from Howard University in Washington, D.C.  He earned his clinical pastoral education certificate from the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond, VA.

His Alma Mater, Union Theological Seminary, presented him its Unitas Distinguished Alumnus Award and Teacher’s College of Columbia University award him its Distinguished Service Medal in 2003.  Howard University awarded him their Distinguished Service Award in Ministry.  His honorary doctorates included degrees from the following colleges and universities:  Princeton, DePauw, Colgate, Fairleigh Dickenson, Lehigh and the University of Richmond.

From 1992 to 2007, Dr. Forbes was co-chair of A Partnership of Faith, an interfaith organization of clergy among New York’s Protestant, Catholic, Jewish and Muslim communities.  He is on the board of Manhattanville College, the Interfaith Alliance, Children’s Defense Fund, Mailman School of Public Health of Columbia University, and the United Way.  He is a past president of The Martin Luther King Fellows.

Two of Dr. Forbes’ songs have been published in the Silver Burdett Songbooks for schools: “We Shall Overcome” and “Our Families Together.”  Dr. Forbes has performed the narration for several large musical productions, including Mendelssohn’s “Elijah” with the Riverside choir.

Born in 1935 in Burgaw, North Carolina, Dr. Forbes is married to Bettye Franks Forbes, formerly of San Antonio, TX.  They are the proud parents of one son, James A. Forbes, III.

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