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Teresa L. Smallwood

The James Franklin Kelly and Hope Eyster Kelly Associate Professor of Public Theology


B.A.  University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
M.Div.  Howard University
J.D.  North Carolina Central University
Ph.D.  Chicago Theological Seminary (in Theology, Ethics, and Human Sciences

Dr. Smallwood has served as Postdoctoral Fellow and Associate Director of the Public Theology and Racial Justice Collaborative at Vanderbilt Divinity School since 2017. She has taught at Lancaster Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania, Religious Freedom Center in Washington, D.C., Chicago Theological Seminary and Philander Smith College in Little Rock, AR. She began her legal career with Legal Services of the Southern Piedmont in Charlotte, NC, where she also worked as a staff attorney for the Children’s Law Center. In 1989, she served as an Assistant District Attorney until she commenced her private practice that spanned more than two decades.

Dr. Smallwood's Ph.D. dissertation was entitled, “The Leprosy Effect: A Queer Womanist Pastoral Care Model.  Her areas of specialty are Womanist and Feminist Theology and Ethics; Black Church Tradition; Race, Gender and Sexuality; Emmanuel Levinas; Africana Pastoral Theology; and 20th century Theology; Comprehensive Examinations: Womanist and Feminist Theology and Ethics; Black Church Tradition: Race, Gender and Sexuality; Emmanuel Levinas; Africana Pastoral Theology; 20th c. Theology, Ethnography, Spanish, French.”

Dr. Smallwood was licensed and ordained to public ministry while serving Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church in Lewiston, NC. She is a member at New Covenant Christian Church in Nashville, TN. She has published extensively, including book chapters “Race, Law, and Religious Freedom,” in African Americans and Religious Freedom: New Perspectives for Congregations and Communities, “Who Defines the Religious Narrative? The Old Guard Meets the Avant-garde in Nashville—The ‘It’ City,” in The Routledge Handbook of Religion and Cities, and is currently working on a book under review for publication, The Bully Pulpit: Queer and Black in Church. She has presented numerous papers and lectures and served as a panelist at Morgan State University, Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, Vanderbilt University, Children’s Defense Fund Proctor Conference, Chicago Theological Seminary and Oxford University, among others. 


African Americans and Religious Freedom - New Perspectives for Congregations and Communities

The Routledge Handbook of Religion and Cities (Routledge Handbooks in Religion)

Contributor, Wisdom Commentary: Proverbs, Alice Ogden Bellis, (Liturgical Press: MN 2018), 70-72.