I applaud this outstanding work. The overarching and monumental significance of its contribution is that the African American church will not allow one of its princes to be defined by sound-bite media and cable news narratives. We love and respect the ministry and lifelong contribution of Wright. Let the truth be told! – Frank Thomas, Nettie Sweeney and Hugh Th. Miller Professor of Homiletics, Christian Theological Seminary, Indianapolis, Indiana
Smith has brought witness, honor and gratitude to Wright, her mentor. He is among the most misunderstood people in our time. Today’s persistent covert racism warms us of that which seems never to go away, even with our best efforts. Read this book and weep, swear if you must, and then get going. We have work to do. – Richard A. Wigh, Senior Minister, First Community Church, Columbus, Ohio
Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr. will forever be linked to the historical 2008 presidential campaign of then Senator Barack Obama. Although unwillingly thrust into the spotlight, the media attention could never overshadow Wright’s prophetic teachings, nor does it define his life and ministry. The Book of Jeremiah: The Life and Ministry of Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr. examines the man, an African American, a patriot who served his country, a scholar, a prophet, and a pastor. The relevance of his ministry extends far beyond his pastorate at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, reaching a global stage with a message of liberation and justice.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rev. Dr. Susan K Smith, formerly the senior pastor of Advent United Church of Christ in Columbus, Ohio, is a 1986 graduate of Yale Divinity School, where she earned her M.Div.
She received her BA in English Literature from Occidental College and her D. Min. from United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio.
A former reporter, Rev. Smith worked for newspapers in Baltimore and Texas before entering seminary. She also served as an associate producer for WJZ News, as an on-air news reporter for WEAA, the radio station affiliated with Morgan State University in Baltimore, and as a talk show host for “Columbus Today,” a locally heard radio program in Columbus, and as an on-air political commentator for a news magazine television program, also produced in Columbus.
Following graduation from Yale Divinity School, where she served as the first woman to be president of the student body, Dr. Smith served as associate minister at Trinity United Church of Christ, studying under the Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A Wright, Jr. She served at Trinity for three years before accepting the call to be pastor at Advent UCC.
While pastor of Advent United Church of Christ, the church’s membership increased from five members to about 300. In addition to outreach ministries to the city’s poor, Rev. Smith’s ministry concentrated on empowering urban youth through an annual summer arts program, which uses the arts to instill confidence in those youth who participate. Through arts immersion and concentration as well on reading, writing and math, the camp was successful in helping participating youth to perform better academically during the school year.
Rev. Smith also served as minister of music at her church for 20 years, as she also served as pastor, producing what some have called a “professional choir” which, in addition to singing in Africa, has sung for professional productions including a promotional performance of “The Lion King,” “The Chocolate Nutcracker,” and with country singer Lyle Lovett.
Rev. Smith is a past co-president of BREAD, (Building Responsibility, Equity and Dignity), a multi-racial, multi-ethnic social justice organization comprised of over 50 different religious denominations in the city of Columbus. Under her leadership, that organization was recently instrumental in getting the Ohio Legislature to sign into law a measure which prevents pay day lenders from charging its clients exorbitant interest rates.
She was recently invited to be a participant in the Oxford Roundtable, an event held at Oxford University in England, where she presented a paper on the tension in America between the United States Constitution and the Holy Bible.
She is a past member of the Board of Directors of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, Inc., a social justice ministry which seeks to empower churches and ministers in urban settings to deal with the problems they face through training, resource development and acquisition, and changing of public policy. When the SDPC held hearings after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in Washington, D.C., Houston and New Orleans, Rev. Smith served as lead commissioner. Those hearings resulted in a published report entitled, “The Breach,” which was presented to the Congressional Black Caucus. She recently completed a report for SDPC on the phenomenon of mass incarceration in the United States, recording the testimony of people and families affected by it in selected cities in different regions of the country.
Most recently, she named the first Gordon G. Cosby Seasoned Voices Fellow by the SpiritHouse Project, an organization which has been on the forefront for social justice for decades. She and the founder/director of SpiritHouse, Ruby Sales, are working on a project to expose the extrajudicial murders of black people in the United States for the purpose of sensitizing people on the pervasiveness of the problem and also to encourage citizens to challenge the controversial “stand your ground” laws and police policies which allow these suspicious deaths to go unchallenged.
Rev. Smith is has formed a private non-profit organization, “Crazy Faith Ministries,
which aims to empower youth and women all over the United States through programs that will enable them to thrive in American society – against obstacles including racism, sexism, homophobia, and financial illiteracy.
She is the author of five books, “Carla and Annie,” “From Calvary to Victory,” “Forgive WHO?” and, “Crazy Faith: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives,” which is currently in its second printing. Her newest book, recently published by the Pilgrim Press, The Book of Jeremiah: The Life and Ministry of Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr., examines the work and ministry of Jeremiah Wright. Her work has also appeared weekly on The Washington Post, as a member of a panel of theologians, scholars and writers on a panel for that newspaper which comments on issues pertinent to religion. She also has her own blog, “Candid Observations,” which concentrates on the intersection of race, politics and religion.
She is the mother of two children, Caroline, a recent graduate of Spelman College and the University of Dayton, and who is now working as a certified music therapist in Indiana, and a son, Charles, who is writing and performing music in New York.