Under the program, seminaries will offer courses addressing issues such as AIDS and teen pregnancy and fellows will be involved in related research.
United Theological Seminary, a United Methodist-related school in Dayton, Ohio, will be the first to offer the program, beginning in January. Six clergy in the seminary's doctor of ministry program will be called "Reproductive Choice Fellows" and will work with the coalition for three years after receiving their degrees by giving lectures, taking part in workshops and promoting dialogue on sexuality issues in the black religious community.
"African-American and other seminaries often do not address sexuality issues such as teen pregnancy, sexuality education, HIV/AIDS prevention and education, and youth and sex," said the Rev. Carlton W. Veazey, president of the Washington-based coalition, in a statement.
"African-American churches also are often silent on these subjects. The Religious Coalition's Seminary Project will prepare clergy to deal with issues that are having a major impact in African-American communities."
The project is part of the coalition's Black Church Initiative, which was created in 1997 and has included national summits of African-American religious leaders addressing sexuality.
The Rev. Kendall McCabe, vice president for academic affairs at United Theological Seminary, welcomed his school's participation in the project.
"Reproductive health is one area where people need to make responsible choices, and they need training and support to do so," he said. "This is an issue not only for African-Americans, but for everyone in the 21st century."