Henry L. Hillman Professor of Urban Ministry
Year Started at PTS: 2013
The Rev. Dr. R. Drew Smith earned his undergraduate degree from Indiana University, and his master of divinity and a master of arts and Ph.D. in political science from Yale University. 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 and East Africa, including while serving in 2005 as a Fulbright professor at the University of Pretoria. His research over the years has been funded by sources such as Pew Charitable Trusts, Annie E. Casey Foundation, Luce Foundation, Ford Foundation, and Templeton Foundation, and has totaled almost $2.5 million in grant monies.
His overseas involvements additionally 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 the Henry L. Hillman Professor of Urban Ministry, he was scholar-in-residence and director of Religion and Public Life Projects at the Leadership Center at Morehouse College. He has also served on the faculties of Indiana University and Butler University; as a visiting faculty member at Emory University and Case Western Reserve University; and as director at Garrett-Evangelical Seminary of the Center for the Church and Black Experience.
He has published widely on religion and public life, having edited or co-edited 10 books: Racialized Health, COVID-19, and Religious Responses: Black Atlantic Contexts and Perspectives (2022), Urban Ministry Reconsidered: Contexts and Approaches (2018), Religion, Culture, and Spirituality in Africa and the African Diaspora (2017), Contesting Post-Racialism: Conflicted Churches in the U.S. and South Africa (2015), Churches, Blackness, and Contested Multiculturalism: Europe, Africa, and North America (2014), From Every Mountainside: Black Churches and the Broad Terrain of Civil Rights (2013), Freedom’s Distant Shores: American Protestants and Post-Colonial Alliances with Africa (2006), Black Churches and Local Politics (2005), Long March Ahead: African American Churches and Public Policy in Post-Civil Rights America (2004), and New Day Begun: African American Churches and Civic Culture in Post-Civil Rights America (2003). He has recently completed writing a book on contemporary Black clergy activism under contract with Columbia University Press and is currently writing a book on urban imaginaries and sacredness of place. He has also published more than 80 articles, chapters, essays, and reports.
Honors and awards for his academic leadership include selection in 2002 as an Emerging Leaders Fellow by a Duke University/University of Cape Town program on Leadership and Public Values, selection in 2008 for an Indiana Governor’s Black Expo Leadership Award, and participation in 2022 in the invite-only Renaissance Weekend retreat for leaders. He is married with one adult daughter.
Racialized Health, COVID-19, and Religious Responses: Black Atlantic Contexts and Perspectives, (lead editor, Routledge Press, 2022)
“The Diminished Public, and Black Christian Promotion of American Civic Ideals,” Religions, 12, no. 7: 505. 2021, https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12070505
“Religious Innovation and Competition Amidst Urban Social Change: Pretoria Case Study,” (Co-author)), Journal of Contemporary African Studies, 5/1, August 2019: 104-121
“South Sudan’s Costly Conflict and the Urgent Role of the Religious Sector,” (Co-author), Review of Faith and International Affairs, June 2019
Urban Ministry Reconsidered: Contexts and Approaches (lead editor; Westminster John Knox Press, 2018)
Religion, Culture, and Spirituality in Africa and the African Diaspora (co-editor; Routledge, 2017)
“Trans-Disciplinary Research on Religious Formations in Urban Africa: Toward Liberative Methodological Approaches,” (Co-author), HTS Theological Studies, 73 (3), 2017
“Puritan Chauvinism and the Roots of White Racial Nationalism in the US,” International Journal of Africana Studies, Fall 2016: 64-86
“Urban Marginality, Religious Liminality, and the Black Poor,” HTS Theological Studies, 71/3, 2015
Contesting Post Racialism: Conflicted Churches in the United States and South Africa (lead editor; University Press of Mississippi, 2015)
Churches, Blackness, and Contested Multiculturalism: Europe, North America, and Africa (lead editor; Palgrave Macmillan, 2014)
From Every Mountainside: Black Churches and Civil Rights Beyond the Southern Movement (editor; SUNY, 2013)
Freedom’s Distant Shores: American Protestants and Post-Colonial Alliances with Africa (editor; Baylor University Press, 2006)
Black Churches and Local Politics: Clergy Influence, Organizational Partnerships, and Civic Empowerment (lead editor; Rowman & Littlefield, 2005)
Long March Ahead: African American Churches and Public Policy in Post-Civil Rights America (editor; Duke, 2004)
New Day Begun: African American Churches and Civic Culture in Post-Civil Rights America (editor; Duke, 2003)
Ordination: Independent Baptist
* 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.