Get To Know Doctor J.Alfred Smith, Sr.


Rev. Dr. J. Alfred Smith, Senior, is a visionary and the illustrious Pastor Emeritus of the historic Allen Temple Baptist Church in Oakland, California, where his son, the Dr. Rev. J. Alfred Smith Jr. is currently the senior pastor.

 Dr. Smith Sr. is presently married to Rev. Bernestine Smith, Pastor of Allen Temple Arms I and II.

Pastor Emeritus Smith also a giant of a man in intellect, wisdom and fecundity of the mind. An erudite sage, blessed by God with a plethora of knowledge and immense sagacity, Dr. Smith Sr. serves as “Distinguished Professor of Christian Ministry and Preaching at the American Baptist Seminary of the West and the Graduate Theological Seminary in Berkeley, California. He is also currently a Visiting Professor at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. 

He has served as an Acting Dean of the American Baptist Seminary of the West and as Area Representative for the American Baptist Churches of the Ministers’ and Missionaries Benefit Board. Dr. Smith Sr. is a past national president of the Progressive National Baptist Convention (PNBC), and a past president of the American Baptist Churches of the West (ABCW).

On April 17-19, 2007, Dr. J. Alfred Smith lectured from the topic of (Successful Steps in Sermon Presentation)and preached in Cambridge, England at St. Andrews Baptist Church for The 5th Annual International Conference on Preaching from the topic: “A Changeless Christ in a Changing World”, Hebrews 13:8.

On October 3-5, 2005, Dr. Smith Sr. was the keynote speaker at the 2nd Annual Conference on Black Preaching at Baylor University, Dallas, Texas. On August 13-20, 2004, he was one of the featured eminent guest lecturers and intellectuals at the Oxford University Roundtable Conference in Oxford, England.

For two years consecutively, Dr. Smith was one of Ebony Magazine’s Most Influential Black Americans, and was among the magazine’s Top 15 Greatest Black Preachers of 1993. In 2001, Dr. Smith Sr. was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Greenlining Institute, the Humanitarian of the Year Award by the East Bay Area Agency For Children, and in 2002, the Agape Award from the Women’s Ministry of the Shiloh Baptist Church, Washington, D.C., and the Gandhi Ikeda Award from Morehouse College, Atlanta, Georgia.

Dr. Smith Sr. is a man filled with “milk of human kindness and compassion”, who champions the causes of the poor, the down-trodden, the left-outs and the left-behinds. He is a voice for the disliked, the disaffected, the displaced, the disdained, the left-outs and the left behinds. He uses the pulpit to uplift the poor in spirit, the broken-hearted and the afflicted. He also challenges and afflicts the rich and comfortable to get up and get out of “their lazy chairs of religion”. He is a “fish of many waters” and a “bridge builder” who feels comfortable and at home with ordinary “every day” people as well as the movers and shakers of the society.

A vocal opponent of the Apartheid Government of South Africa, Dr. Smith Sr. testified before the United Nations in New York City on April 14, 1989 in an effort to end Apartheid in South Africa. He is a prophet and a leader who inspires and challenges the people to dare to be what God wants them to be. Dr. Smith Sr. is also a teacher who instills not just intellectual knowledge, understanding and character by “making it plain”, but also a “can do” attitude to the people. He is a man who not only preaches the Gospel, but also lives the Gospel. He is a man of God and faith who is crazy about God to believe God’s Words and act on his promises. 

A renowned scholar, an acclaimed preacher and an accomplished author of more than sixteen books and a prolific writer, Dr. Smith Sr. has a voracious appetite for reading. His most recent book “Speak Until Justice Wakes: Prophetic Reflections from J. Alfred Smith, Sr. was released in 2006. In May 2004, “On The Jericho Road” was released and this book is a biography of his life in the ministry. Dr. Smith Sr. has several publications, which include: Giving to a Giving God, Basic Bible Sermons, his prayer in 9.11.01: African American Leaders Respond To An American Crisis, his sermon “Facing the Insufficiency of National Security With the Sufficiency of Faith”, Living Pulpit-Special Supplement, November 2001,, and his essay, entitled “Lamentations In The City”, in the April 2002 edition of The Living Pulpit. His work also appears in The Encyclopedia of African-American Christian Heritage, by Dr. Marvin McMickle, and Power In The Pulpit: How America’s Most Effective Black Preachers Prepare Their Sermons, by Dr. Cleophus LaRue.

Dr. Smith is a “drum major” for justice, peace and righteousness. On August 12, 2007 Mrs. Joanna Goodwin Smith, who had been married to Pastor Smith went home to be with the Lord. Dr. Smith is the epitome of God’s love in action. Dr. Smith Sr. is the father of three sons, two daughters, fourteen grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. One of his sons, the Rev. Dr. J. Alfred Smith Junior, is the illustrious senior pastor of the historic Antioch Baptist Church in San Jose, California and he is also a professor and lecturer at San Francisco State University, San Francisco, California and the San Francisco Theological Seminary in San Anselmo, California. A distinguished winner of numerous awards and commendations for his leadership in ministry, making significant contributions to affordable senior housing, scholarship and meritorious activities, in May 2007 Dr. Smith was the recipient of the American Baptist Homes of the West Affordable Housing Award.