Reverend Doctor Shively T. J. Smith has been actively working in the arenas of ministry and academia for over 17 years. She was called to the ministry in 1997 at the age of 16 at Mount Nebo Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky. under Rev. Benny Williams. A few years later, Smith was also licensed by Nebo Christian Ministries under Bishop Larry E. Williams in Baltimore, Md. Since then, she has worked with various church organizations and denominations from Baptist, to Pentecostal, non-denominational, and Methodist. In these spaces, she has worked in various areas of ministry such as: college ministry, women’s ministry, church education, couples ministry, evangelism, and preaching and prayer. Now, she is an ordained elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church where she is currently attending Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C.

In addition to church ministry, Dr. Smith has worked devotedly in the arena of higher education in religion for over 12 years. She has taught courses in New Testament, Biblical Greek, Black Religion, among others. She has taught at a variety of institutions such as Morehouse College and Candler School of Theology and served as faculty for special programs, such as the United Methodist Course of Study Program and the Certificate in Theological Studies Program at Arrendale State Prison for Women, which is supported by ATA-affiliated schools. She served as mentor and advisor for national fellowship programs such as the Institute for Recruitment of Teachers and the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Program.

Smith’s educational background includes a Bachelor of Arts in religious and philosophical studies from Fisk University where she graduated Summa Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa. She then went on to earn a Masters of Divinity from Candler School of Theology at Emory University and a second degree, a Masters of Theological studies, from Columbia Theological Seminary. Smith was also awarded an international fellowship to study theology at Oxford University in England as an English-Speaking Union Luard Scholar. In 2002-03, she was honored by Essence Magazine and named one of “The Ten Most Incredible College Students” in the USA.

Dr. Smith completed her Ph.D. in New Testament Studies at Emory University as the first African American woman to receive a doctorate in the New Testament Program. Her dissertation is called, “Live as Strangers in Your Own Land: The Letter of 1 Peter and Diaspora Discourse,” which is due for publication Fall 2016. Her work has been supported by organizations such as the Louisville Institute, the Ford Foundation, The Fund for Theological Education, the Mellon Mays Fellowship Program, Black Women in Church and Society Program, and the Social Science Research Council. Her research interests include: Studies on Peter and Peter’s Letters, Luke-Acts, Call Narratives, and biblical discourses on diaspora.

She has contributed to multiple writing projects and series, including the Feasting on the Gospels series, the Reading & Writing Theologically series, the Human Rights Campaign Online Lectionary, the Church Health Reader Magazine, and others . Smith is currently working on academic projects related to her dissertation and research interests. Smith also does a lot of independent writing and blogging about graduate work, applying for scholarships and fellowships, studying the bible as well as offering independent bible study podcasts through her website: She is a sought after preacher, teacher, and motivational speaker. Smith is Assistant Professor of New Testament at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C.

Posts By This Author

Can We Measure Christian Compassion in America?

by Shively Smith 06-12-2017

Image via Kim Wilson/

In essence, we have struggled to understand the work and responsibility of Christian compassion in issues of healthcare and policy. Should this responsibility be shared by all and secured by the government, or should it primarily be the domain of people of faith and those moved by a higher calling to mercy and healing? With the new GOP Health Care Bill, and the ongoing debates about healthcare in America, Christians across the aisle struggle to evaluate how well we are doing at caring for the disenfranchised and the sick.

This Advent, Listen to Those Who #SayHerName

by Shively Smith 11-28-2016

Image via Adam Cohn/Flickr

The intersection between present and future is a tense and frustrating space to live in. Yet, that space makes a demand on us. Faithful moral identity that is not wedded to moral social action misses the Gospel’s kingdom vision. 

Mary's Radical Hospitality

by Shively Smith 01-11-2016

Image via  /

The activities of the Christian community should be no less vigorous as we enter the mid-month point in January 2016 and the energy of the Christmas season has passed. In fact, it is on this second Sunday after Epiphany (the Christian feast day and season known as “manifestation”) that an honest evaluation of our situation locally, regionally, and abroad should be made.

Wars and Rumors of Wars on Veterans' Day

by Shively Smith 11-09-2015

Image via  /

It is so easy to read Mark and think of war as far off — especially if you are someone living in a neighborhood or region that has a semblance of peaceful times. For non-military families and organizations it is easy to miss that “wars and rumors of wars” means that families, perhaps right next door to us, are bracing for the possibility that parents or children may be leaving soon. 

The portion of our population in the military is staggering. According to 2013 reports, approximately 2,220,412 of our population were on active duty in the armed forces and reserves. Family members out-numbered military personnel 1.4 to 1. There were 689,344 spouses reported and more than 1.2 million dependent children living in active duty families.