(Houston, TX) – Longtime theological educator and public theologian Rev. Dr. Fred D. Smith Jr. is named as Fletcher Seminary’s Houston Regional Director. Under Rev. Dr. Smith’s leadership, Fletcher Seminary will develop innovative partnerships in the Houston metro region, and serve as the local face of Fletcher Seminary to churches and prospective students.
When asked about what this new hire means for the seminary, Fletcher President Dr. Don Williford states “Dr. Smith’s stature and caliber as a pastor, educator, and theologian will prove invaluable for Fletcher Seminary as we build new and creative partnerships in Houston and beyond. Dr. Smith’s experience in education and work around health and faith will also expose Fletcher students to the kind of real-life training that is at the core of our approach to theological education.”
Rev. Dr. Smith, has over 30 years of training and experience as an educator, strategist, facilitator, and innovator in public theology, especially in the field of faith and health. Previously, he helped launch and establish the Center for Leadership in Public Theology at Houston Graduate School of Theology. As Faith and Health Consultant and Senior Scholar for Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare System, Dr. Smith participated in the development of the Memphis Model. As Educational Consultant to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center FaithHealth Division, he consulted on the development of FaithHealthNC and developed the FaithHealth Fellows program for the state of North Carolina.
In partnership with The Carter Center, Dr. Smith was principle lead on a number of crucial initiatives including Not Even One, which answered a question posed by the Carnegie Corporation about youth gun violence and handgun death. Smith was the visionary with moral clarity who named the program and then also the one on the ground who helped teams implement the strategy. Dr. Smith traveled in the name of President Carter to nearly two dozen cities in a discovery tour that galvanized the national reach of the program and planted the seeds of relationships that continue to thrive nearly 30 years later.
Other leadership roles with The Carter Center included Associate Director of the Interfaith Health Program where he participated in the development of such programs as the Whole Communities Collaborative; Faith and Health Consortium; and The Institute for Faith and Public Health Collaboration.
Smith retired as Professor of Urban Ministry and Associate Director of the Practice of Ministry and Mission at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC where he developed and taught masters and doctoral level courses in Urban Ministry, Faith andHealth, Black Church Studies, Practical Theology, and Children and Poverty. Dr. Smith is also a retired United Methodist Elder from the Western Pennsylvania Conference where he was pastor of Fellowship United Methodist Church.
A native of Oakland, California he earned a BA in Economics from Harvard University, a MDiv from Perkins School of Theology at SMU, and a Ph.D. in Practical Theology from Emory University. Publications include Black Religious Experience: Conversations on Double Consciousness and the Work of Grant Shockley (Abingdon, 2004 – co-authored with Charles R. Foster); “A Prophetic Religious Education for the Twenty-First Century: Black Boys Shall See Visions,” in Theological Literacy for the Twenty-First Century (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2002); and “Africentric Christian Education: A Historical Perspective” in Africentric Approaches to Christian Ministry (UPA, 2006).
Founded in 2022 by the leaders of the prior San Antonio-based Logsdon Seminary, Fletcher Seminary connects remote learners with a rigorous, cost-effective theological education integrated with real-life training, equipping its students for transformational ministry. Fletcher is a multidenominational and inclusive seminary, committed to diversity in its faculty and student body.