N. Gordon CosbyN. Gordon Cosby Seasoned Voices Fellowship

In Fall 2013, SpiritHouse created the N. Gordon Cosby Seasoned Voices Fellowship in honor of the late N. Gordon Cosby, the founder and spiritual director of the Church of the Saviour community in Washington, D.C. Cosby, who worked into his 90’s, taught that we can be lifelong sojourners who break with violent culture and use our wisdom and voices to build up a better world. His voice grew richer and more prophetic as he grew in age.

Ruby Sales was deeply moved and influenced by the theology and the work of Gordon Cosby. During her time in Washington, D.C., Ruby attended the Church of the Saviour, taught at the Servant Leadership School, and preached at the Potter’s House. This Fellowship is the way that SpiritHouse honors his legacy and continues his work.

Learn more about Gordon Cosby:

SpiritHouse Project operates from the deep understanding that seasoned voices are essential to a holistic and sound movement for social change. Without their voices, movement building is hampered from the lack of hindsight, insight, and foresight. Because of their life experiences, knowledge, and roles as observers and participants in history, they play a vital role in sustaining movement, as well as giving young social justice workers the perspective, guidance, and cautionary note of “hope, reason, and courage” to break with an oppressive culture and to begin a life-long journey as change agents. By Seasoned Voices, SpiritHouse Project means artists, ministers, activists, intellectuals, practitioners, and ordinary people between the ages of 50 to 80 years. Not only does SpiritHouse Project give seasoned voices an opportunity to grow the movement, but it also provides the care, study, and activities that enhance their continued growth through reflection, fieldwork, the arts, and study. Each Seasoned Voice Fellow is expected to fully engage with the work of SpiritHouse Project.

Susan K. SmithRev. Dr. Susan K. Smith Named First Seasoned Voice Fellow

Bio of Rev. Dr. Susan K. Smith:

Rev. Dr. Susan K. Smith is a seasoned voice of 58 years, who served more than 22 years as a pastor of a UCC church in Columbus, Ohio. She has written for the Washington Post’s “On Faith” section, served as a co-president of a multi-racial, multi-denominational social justice organization in Ohio, served on the Board of Trustees of the Samuel Dewitt Proctor Conference, and has written five books, including a recently-released book on the life and ministry of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Rev. Dr. Smith received a BA in English Literature from Occidental College, her M.Div. from Yale Divinity School, and her D.Min from United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio.

Goals of the Fellowship:

In this first year of the Seasoned Voices Fellowship, Rev. Dr. Smith supports the work of the SpiritHouse Project on exposing the extrajudicial murders of African-American people. She simultaneously provides spiritual guidance and direction to the families who, in the midst of their grief, are seeking justice. This is achieved by:

  • Documenting these murders, while contextualizing them within a crazy faith model that underscores and reaffirms the endurance, faith, resilience, and struggle of parents, grandparents, and community who experience the loss of loved ones through the brutal process of systemic violence.
  • Working closely with Ruby Sales, founder and director or the SpiritHouse Project, in areas of outreach, development, and publicity.
  • Serving as an essential spiritual guide for SpiritHouse Project and black communities in the south, seeking justice for family members who have been murdered by police and vigilantes, as well as by bringing the nation to a new level of understanding and compassion concerning the growing menace that systemic violence is to democracy.
  • Organizing churches and spiritual communities to be educated about the prison industrial complex, Stand Your Ground laws, and other issues that ferment an environment that fertilizes extrajudicial murders.
  • Using her individual gifts and talents in community building, where Black people draw on their long tradition of music to tell our stories and to develop a series of meditations for the families who grieve for their slain loved ones.

As part of the fellowship, Rev. Dr. Smith will study the life of N. Gordon Cosby, write about it, and incorporate what she has learned into expanding and fertilizing Crazy Faith Ministries, which she founded.

Samples of Work as a Seasoned Voices Fellow:

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