Building Beloved Communities

The Life and Work of Rev. Dr. Paul Smith

Title Details

Pages: 296

Illustrations: 20 b&w images

Trim size: 6.000in x 9.000in



Pub Date: 08/01/2021

ISBN: 9-780-8203-5961-8

List Price: $32.95

Building Beloved Communities

The Life and Work of Rev. Dr. Paul Smith

The first biography of a pathbreaking pastor and civil rights advocate

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Building Beloved Communities traces the life of Rev. Dr. Paul Smith (b. 1935), an iconoclastic black minister who has channeled his civil rights work into establishing multi-racial churches in four cities-Buffalo, NY; Atlanta, GA; St. Louis, MO; Brooklyn, NY-over a six-decade career. Following the lead of his mentor, Dr. Howard Thurman (who was also a key influence on Martin Luther King Jr.), Smith has concentrated on building thriving multicultural congregations to create the sorts of communities envisioned by King and others.
In 1979, he became the first black minister of all-white Hillside Presbyterian Church in Decatur, Georgia, making him a unique leader among the 4,000 Presbyterian congregations in the United States. In 1986, he was elected the first African American pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Brooklyn Heights, New York. Throughout his ministry in various churches, he has consciously moved his congregations toward being explicitly multi-cultural and multi-racial, as well as more politically active and welcoming of LGBTQ communities.

Hendrickson examines his pastoral care and his increased work with corporations, colleges, and charitable foundations. Building Beloved Communities details the complicated life of a man dedicated to serving as a bridge between Christianity, community activism, public health institutions, and the business world.
Based on archival research, historical analysis, and original interviews with Smith and his colleagues, Hildi Hendrickson offers a critical biography of the preacher and his work from the 1960s to the present.

Building Beloved Communities reveals the in-the-trenches kind of political work that activists of Smith's generation were doing to implement the civil rights movement and the kinds of strategies and compromises that entailed.

—Julia Rabig, coauthor of The Business of Black Power: Community Development, Capitalism, and Corporate Responsibility in Postwar America

Building Beloved Communities brings Smith to life, revealing an impressive, accessible individual whose story illuminates important trends over the past eighty years and whose approach to his ministry, social justice, and life offers much to ponder for those seeking to lead more meaningful and
consequential lives.

—James Ralph, author of Northern Protest: Martin Luther King, Jr., Chicago, and the Civil Rights Movement

About the Author/Editor

HILDI HENDRICKSON is a recently-retired associate professor of anthropology at Long Island University. She is the editor of Clothing and Difference: Embodied Identities in Colonial and Post-Colonial Africa.