“To Serve this Present Age”
Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr. was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He completed his elementary education in that city and then went to Virginia Union University. After three and a half years at Virginia Union, Pastor Wright left school and entered the United States Marine Corps. He transferred from the USMC into the United States Navy where he served as a cardiopulmonary technician.
After six years in the military, Pastor Wright transferred to Howard University where he completed his undergraduate studies and received his first master’s degree. His second master’s degree was from the University of Chicago Divinity School. His doctorate was received from the United Theological Seminary under Dr. Samuel DeWitt Proctor. In addition to Dr. Wright’s four earned degrees, he has been the recipient of nine honorary doctorates.
Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr. became Pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ on March 1, 1972. Within a matter of months he demonstrated an understanding and deep commitment to help Trinity UCC achieve its motto and vision. The motto, “Unashamedly Black and Unapologetically Christian,” was a phrase coined by his predecessor, the Reverend Dr. Reuben Sheares, and was officially adopted by the congregation shortly after Pastor Wright began his ministry.
A student of Black Sacred Music, ethnomusicology and African Diaspora studies, Dr. Wright is an historian of religions. The foundational strengths gained from these studies shaped Dr. Wright’s vision for prophetic ministry. As senior pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, IL, where he served 36 years, Dr. Wright combined his studies of West African music and Judeo-Christian thought to create over 70 ministries to address the needs of the community and to enrich the lives and faith of his congregants by moving ministry, as stated in his own words, “from theory to praxis.”
Dr. Wright said in a recent article: “I have tried to bring those two different worlds together [the academy and the pew] in the context of pastoral ministry in an effort to move an ignored people from hurt to healing and from hate to hope. My mission at Trinity has been to bring those worlds together by using the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the life of Christ as a model for what is possible, of what might be, and of what our faith really is—’the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.’”
Since 1972, under Dr. Wright’s leadership, the membership of Trinity United Church of Christ grew from 87 members, and currently exceeds 6,000! The membership continues to grow numerically and spiritually with large numbers of members tithing, studying in Bible classes, and serving in over 70 ministries offered to enhance the Christian journey.
Dr. Wright has lectured at seminaries and universities across the United States and has represented Trinity UCC and The United Church of Christ around the world. He is recognized as a leading theologian and pastor and has authored numerous articles for academic journals. Dr. Wright has published four books of sermons widely used in seminaries: What Makes You So Strong?, Good News: Sermons of Hope For Today’s Families, Africans Who Shaped Our Faith and When Black Men Stand Up For God. His newly released (February 25, 2010) book A Sankofa Moment: The History of Trinity United Church of Christ is his first written work!
At the end of May 2008, Dr. Wright retired as senior pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ. He became Pastor Emeritus and now spends his time preaching, teaching, leading study tours to Africa, Brazil and the Caribbean.
Dr. Wright shares his life and his ministry with his wife, Rev. Ramah Reed Wright, and is the father of four daughters: Janet Marie Moore, Jeri Lynne Wright, Nikol D. Reed and Jamila Nandi Wright; and one son, Nathan D. Reed. He is also the grandfather of three grandchildren; Jeremiah Antonio Haynes, Jazmin Lynne Hall and Steven L. Moore, Jr.
For more information about Rev. Wright, visit http://jeremiahwright.com/.
*Unfortunately, Jeremiah Wright will be unable to attend the conference. But his spirit and voice will be with us through a video presentation filmed exclusively for CYNKC.