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Robert and Carol Dokes

Robert and Carol Dokes

The Dokes Ministry Scholars program honors the legacy of Robert ’30 and Carol ’30 (Crews) Dokes—two Gordon theology graduates who dedicated their lives to Christian ministry and service, even in times of war and when met with great prejudice. 

Ten years after graduation in 1940, Robert and Carol Dokes founded Second Baptist Church in Paterson, NJ, which provided a safe, communal space for fellow African Americans to share their testimonies and life experiences. This was a community they led and nurtured for 44 years together. 

Shortly after founding Second Baptist Church, Robert joined the United States Army during World War II and served as the chaplain, first lieutenant and, later, captain from 1941–1946 for several segregated, all-black military units, including the famous Harlem Hellfighters. During the war, Carol poured much of her energy and time into sustaining the church and its community, while also working for the National Council of Churches and other Christian organizations across the U.S. 

Throughout their lifetime, Carol and Robert were passionate civil rights activists—continuing the work of Robert’s grandfather, who had escaped from his Kentucky slaveholders and fought in the Civil War for his freedom. To expose racial injustices and involve the Church in the work of racial equality, the Dokes taught multicultural enrichment workshops at church conventions and attended predominantly white Christian camps. 

Their sphere of influence was far-reaching. Carol had a heart for young people and mentored them in the ways of Christ through the countless vacation Bible schools she established and Christian leadership training programs she helped organize. The Dokes served beyond Christian circles, teaching in the public-school system. Robert also held several civil service positions in state and federal government.

The Dokes’ lives illustrate just how rich and multi-faceted full-time ministry can be and how that call to ministry may look very different in another setting and season of life. This is why we’ve named this accelerated pastoral degree program after them. They truly embodied Gordon’s mission from start to finish, as a man and woman who were “distinguished by intellectual maturity and Christian character, committed to lives of service and prepared for leadership worldwide.”

Interested in the Dokes Ministry Scholars program?
For more information, contact:

Andrew Breton
Director of Accelerated Pastoral Degree Program
E andrew.breton@gordon.edu 

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