Rev. Mitzi J. Smith, Ph.D.

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Dr. Smith is a teacher, preacher, biblical scholar, author, and founder/President of Living in Full Empowerment. She grew up in Columbus, Ohio with her three siblings and is next to the youngest born to Flora (1929-2009) and Fred Smith (?-1979). Smith earned a BA in Theology from Columbia Union College in Takoma Park, Maryland; a MA in Black Studies from The Ohio State University; an MDiv from Howard University School of Divinity; and a Ph.D. in Religion (New Testament and Early Christian Studies) from Harvard University in 2006. She is the first African American female to earn the Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard. See a recent interview with Dr. Smith at .


Dr. Smith answered her call to ministry in 1980 and has been preaching since 1982 in churches (and prisons) in Maryland, Washington, D.C., Ohio, Michigan, Oklahoma, Massachusetts, and Virginia. She moved to the Detroit area in March 2006 accepting a position as assistant professor of New Testament at Ashland Theological Seminary’s Detroit Center. She has since been promoted to Professor. At Ashland Dr. Smith teaches introductory courses in both testaments, theology of scripture in ministry, womanist/African American/postcolonial criticisms, Acts, Luke, and both biblical Hebrew and Greek languages, among other courses. Dr. Smith’s first book The Literary Construction of the Other in the Acts of the Apostles: Charismatics, The Jews, and Women was released January 2011 as part of the Princeton Theological Monograph Series/Pickwick Publications. She is co-editor of Teaching All Nations: Interrogating the Great Commission (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2014). Smith is currently working on two other book projects. One of Dr. Smith’s latest articles “‘Give Them What You Have’: A Womanist Reading of the Matthean Feeding Miracle,” Journal of Bible and Human Transformation 3 no. 1 (September 2013) is available for free online at She has published several articles, including “Slavery in the Early Church” and “Ephesians” in True to Our Native Land the first African American commentary on the New Testament; ““Unbossed and Unbought’: Zilpha Elaw and Old Elizabeth and a Political Discourse of Origins” in Black Theology: An International Journal (Dec 2011). She has written nine exegetical/preaching articles based on the lectionary readings for You can read some of Dr. Smith’s short essays, thoughts, and poetry on her blog page: Part 2 of her story of childhood sexual violence that she published on her blog was selected for publication on the global feminist blog: .

Dr. Smith was awarded the Association of Theological Schools’ Lilly Foundation Faculty Fellowship Grant (2009-2010) and Wabash Center for Theological Teaching summer research grant (2009), among other awards. She has served as Executive Minister at the Oak Grove AME Church in Detroit, as youth pastor at Faith Presbyterian Church in Southeast DC, and as an Elder in the Bladensburg and First SDA Churches in the Maryland/DC areas. Smith has volunteered in programs offering tutoring for homeless children; reading to elementary school children; and in Focus Hope’s writing lab.

Dr. Smith has traveled to Greece (Athens, Thessaloniki, Corinth, Thasos, Philippi, etc), Ecuador (Guayaquil and Quito), Napoli in Italy (Paestum, Capodimonte, Pompeii ruins, and Amalfi Coast), Barbados, Havana Cuba, Montego Bay Jamaica, Maui, Cancun and the Mayan ruins, and has stayed three weeks in the Incarnation Monastery in Berkeley, CA. Dr. Smith is available as a preacher, teacher, or workshop facilitator. She can be contacted through her website,