Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

R. Drew Smith

Professor of Urban Ministry
Year Started at PTS: 2013


Contact Info



  • Ph.D., Yale University / Political Science
  • M.A./M.Phil., Yale University / Political Science
  • M.Div.., Yale University Divinity School Christian Ethics
  • B.S., Indiana University / Secondary Education; English


The Rev. Dr. R. Drew Smith earned his undergraduate degree from Indiana University, and earned his Master of Divinity, Master of Arts, and Ph.D. from Yale University. Both a political scientist and a clergyman, he has initiated and directed a number of projects related to religion and public life which have collected research data on political involvements, community development activities, and outreach ministries of churches, especially African-American churches. He has also conducted similar research in South Africa, including while serving in 2005 as a Fulbright professor at the University of Pretoria. His overseas involvements also include serving in 2009 as a Fulbright senior specialist at Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Cameroon, and lecturing in many international venues including as part of the U.S. State Department’s Speakers Bureau. He has served since 2010 as co-convener of the Transatlantic Roundtable on Religion and Race, an initiative that convenes scholars, religious leaders, and community activists from across the transatlantic region for purposes of advancing progressive approaches to persistent racial problems in various contexts. In addition, as a Baptist clergyman, he has ministered in a number of parish, prison, and campus ministry contexts.

Before coming to Pittsburgh Theological Seminary where he serves as professor of urban ministry and as chair of the Metro-Urban Institute Council, he was scholar-in-residence and director of Religion and Public Life Projects at the Leadership Center at Morehouse College. He has also served as director of the Center for Church and the Black Experience at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary.

He has published widely on religion and public life, having written numerous articles and chapters, and edited or co-edited seven books: New Day Begun: African American Churches and Civic Culture in Post-Civil Rights America (2003); Long March Ahead: African American Churches and Public Policy in Post-Civil Rights America (2004); Black Churches and Local Politics (2005); Freedom’s Distant Shores: American Protestants and Post-Colonial Alliances with Africa (2006); From Every Mountainside: Black Churches and the Broad Terrain of Civil Rights (2013); Churches, Blackness, and Contested Multiculturalism: Europe, Africa, and North America (2014), and Contesting Post-Racialism: Conflicted Churches in the U.S. and South Africa (2015). He is currently writing a book on contemporary black clergy activism under contract with Columbia University Press. He has received many honors and awards for his academic leadership, including selection in 2002 as an Emerging Leaders Fellow by a Duke University/University of Cape Town program on Leadership and Public Values, and selection in 2008 for an Indiana Governor’s Black Expo Leadership award. He is married, with one teenage daughter.

Church Associations

Ordination: Independent Baptist

Professional Competencies

Areas of Specialty

  • Religion and public life
  • Sociology of urban religion
  • Christianity, race, and class
  • Churches and demographic change
  • Religion and social movements
  • Christianity and U.S. foreign policy

Professional Societies

  • Society for the Study of Black Religion
  • Society for the Scientific Study of Religion


  • 2011-2012: Fellow and Visiting Professor, James Weldon Johnson Institute, Emory University
  • 2010-2013: Research Fellow, Department of Philosophy and Systematic Theology, University of South Africa, Pretoria
  • 2010: Virginia Foundation for the Humanities Fellow/Visiting Faculty, University of Virginia, Charlottesville
  • 2009: Fulbright Senior Specialist, Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Kumba, Cameroon
  • 2007: Faculty-in-Residence and Fellow in the SAGES Program, Case Western Reserve University
  • 2005: Fulbright Professor, School of Theology, University of Pretoria, South Africa

Selected Academic Grants/Awards

  • 2012: Grant for focus groups on urban ministry innovators; Louisville Institute, 2012
  • 2011: Grant to conduct survey of churches and social responses to migrants and immigrants in Pretoria South Africa; Society for the Scientific Study of Religion
  • 2006: Grant to study Civic Service in Lesotho; Center for Social Development, Washington University-St Louis
  • 2001: Grant to study Interactions Between Faith Communities and the Urban Poor; Annie E. Casey Foundation
  • 2001: Grant for U.S. Study Tour for South African Youth Leaders and Youth Workers on Faith-Based Social Leadership Development; Ford Foundation
  • 1998: Grant for Public Influences of African-American Churches Project; The Pew Charitable Trusts

Additional Resources

Complete CV 
High res image
Website: Transatlantic Roundtable on Religion and Race*


Chapel Audio 1
Chapel Audio 2

* This material expresses the research and opinion of Smith and is not necessarily the opinion of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary faculty, staff, or Board of Directors.