April 9, 2019— Dr. Love Sechrest, Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty at Columbia Theological Seminary announced that Dr. Mitzi Smith was appointed by the Board as the new J. Davison Philips Professor of New Testament, effective July 1, 2019. The position was previously held by Dr. E. Elizabeth “Beth” Johnson until her retirement last December. Dr. Smith currently serves as the Professor of New Testament and Early Christian Studies at Ashland Theological Seminary in Detroit, MI.
“Dr. Mitzi Smith is a distinguished scholar of New Testament engaged in some of the most important discussions about womanist and African American biblical interpretation happening today,” said Dr. Sechrest. “She has already made significant contributions to scholarship, and will serve as an effective mentor for our students.”
“I have long appreciated the reputation of Columbia Theological Seminary and its faculty,” said Dr. Smith. “I am honored and eager to join this new diverse and welcoming community under the leadership of President Van Dyk and Dean Sechrest as we journey together in God’s calling for us.”
Dr. Smith earned her B.A. in Theology from Columbia Union College in Takoma Park, MD; her M.A. in Black Studies from The Ohio State University; her M.Div. from Howard University School of Divinity; and her Ph.D. in Religion (New Testament and Early Christian Studies) from Harvard University in 2006. She is the first African American female to earn a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard.
Dr. Smith answered her call to ministry in 1980. 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 where she was promoted to associate professor and finally to tenured full professor.
Dr. Smith’s first book The Literary Construction of the Other in the Acts of the Apostles: Charismatics, The Jews, and Women (2011) was released as part of the Princeton Theological Monograph Series/Pickwick Publications. She is co-editor of Teaching All Nations: Interrogating the Great Commission (2014) and editor of I Found God in Me: A Womanist Biblical Hermeneutics Reader (2015). Her most recent books are Womanist Sass and Talk Back: Social (In)Justice, Intersectionality and Biblical Interpretation (2018) and Toward Decentering the New Testament: A Reintroduction (2018) was co-authored with Dr. Yung Suk Kim from Virginia Union University. She also serves as co-editor with Dr. Gay Byron of the seminal academic publication series “Womanist Readings of Scripture” by Rowman & Littlefield. Dr. Smith participated in the recent review of the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) Bible by the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL).
Dr. Smith was awarded the Association of Theological Schools’ Lilly Foundation Faculty Fellowship Grant (2009-2010) and the 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 and DC areas. Dr. Smith has volunteered in programs offering tutoring for homeless children; reading to elementary school children; and in Detroit’s Focus Hope’s writing lab. She also enjoys Detroit ballroom dancing, bike riding, yoga, learning new languages, traveling and experiencing various cultures.
Columbia Theological Seminary “exists to educate and nurture faithful, imaginative, and effective leaders for the sake of the Church and the world.” As an educational institution of the Presbyterian Church (USA), Columbia Seminary is a community of theological inquiry and formation for ministry in the service of the Church of Jesus Christ. Columbia Seminary offers six graduate degree programs and dozens of courses and events as a resource for church professionals and lay people through the Center for Lifelong Learning. For more information, please visit www.CTSnet.edu.