Anointed, gifted, leader, teacher, virtuoso, maestro, scholar, theologian, professor, revivalist, activist, entrepreneur, counselor, friend, and pastor are just a few of the words that describe the Rev. Dr. Ozzie E. Smith, Jr. Dr. Smith, a native of Memphis, Tennessee, is a well respected and loved pastor and musician. Known for his phenomenal and heart-provoking saxophone playing, Rev. Smith is an equally gifted preacher who is sought out for revivals across the country. His unique ability to combine his music and his invigorating interpretation of the gospel message has brought hope and encouragement to God's people everywhere.
Dr. Smith received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Langston University and a Master of Education degree in Music from the University of Memphis. As a music scholar and teacher, Smith served as instructor of instrumental music for the Memphis City Schools for 13 years, adjunct professor of music for LeMoyne Owen College (Memphis), and part-time lecturer for the Music Department of Chicago State University (Chicago). His talents as a saxophonist, bass guitarist, and percussionist caused him to be sought after by world-renowned groups like the Temptations, the Dells, and Rufus Thomas, yet when he heard the spirit of God calling him to preach the gospel he not only accepted the call, but poured himself as whole-heartedly into the ministry as he did his music. Leaving his career and business behind, Smith left Memphis and moved to Chicago to pursue his call to the ministry under the tutelage of Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright, Jr.
Rev. Smith received his Master of Divinity degree from McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago. He was named the Samuel Dewit Proctor Fellow recipient and received his Doctorate of Ministry degree from United Theological Seminary in Dayton, OH. Ordained by the United Church of Christ in 1994 he served as Associate Pastor/Music Staff Supervisor at Trinity United Church of Christ for six years. At Trinity his responsibilities included preaching, teaching at the TUCC Center for African Biblical Studies, ministerial liaison for various ministries, as well as staff musician.
In 1996 he accepted God's call to organize Covenant United Church of Christ, a new church start in South Holland, IL. The church began on Easter Sunday in 1996 in a small sanctuary that had previously been abandoned. Proving that God is able to redeem what we thrust aside, after Smith's first sermon 24 people joined. Since that first Sunday Covenant has grown by leaps and bounds now standing as the fastest growing and one of the largest churches in the United Church of Christ with over 2500 members. Under Smith's leadership, Covenant has grown from that tiny building to a large sanctuary with office and classroom space, and a youth church facility. Not only has the church grown, but ministry has as well. Pastor Smith has guided the congregation in heading Jesus mandate to serve at least of these. The church now has 37 active ministries including a weekly food pantry, prison ministry, singles and single parent ministries, youth and adult bible study institutes, a very active seniors ministry, sports, housing, education, healthcare, legal counsel, life recovery, women's and men's fellowship, married couples and numerous children, youth, and music ministries. By following Rev. Smith's vision the church is now in the process of building its new family life center which will allow the congregation to further its mission to be a people of Afro-sensitive Christian faith empowered by Christ to embrace community through shared ministry (1 Cor 12:4-7).
In addition to being an extraordinary pastor, Dr. Smith serves as an adjunct professor of ministry at McCormick Theological Seminary. He has also served or is serving the community in the following capacities: South Holland Ministerial Association; Board of Directors, Advocate Health Systems; member of Spiritual Care Committee Advocate Health Systems; Chair, Governing Council Advocate, Trinity Hospital; Board of Directors of Alliance for Christian Media/Board of Directors of CUE/UCC Seminaries and member of the Community Renewal Society. More important than all of these Dr. Smith was a loving husband to his devoted late wife and partner in ministry Barbara Westbrooks-Smith, and the father of three children Lauran, Dr. Ozzie, III, and Brian.