Fortress Press

The Imposing Preacher: Samuel DeWitt Proctor and Black Public Faith

The Imposing Preacher

Samuel DeWitt Proctor and Black Public Faith

Adam L. Bond (Author)


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As a distinguished Baptist pastor, educator, and public servant, Samuel DeWitt Proctor made it his mission to serve American life by fighting against racism. In The Imposing Preacher, Adam Bond shows how Proctor, as the product of a prophetic black church tradition, a social gospel-laced liberal Protestantism, and a black middle-class integrationist ethos, envisioned a type of pulpit activism through which the United States could realize a civil society and genuine community, and was able to anticipate and contest some of the themes articulated in the black religious movements of the late twentieth century.

Bond shows Proctor to be a public theologian committed to developing an inclusive and racially pluralistic global society that confronts racism as the social crisis of its time. Proctor did not respond to segregation through marches and visible protests. Instead he saw the classroom and the pulpit as the sacred spaces for dialogue about race in America. In this way, he presents an alternative model of religious and social leadership and for studies of African American religion in the twentieth century.
  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • Format Paperback
  • ISBN 9780800699727
  • eBook ISBN 9781451452242
  • Dimensions 6 x 9
  • Pages 264
  • Publication Date June 1, 2013


Racism and the Post-Segregation Witness of Black Public Faith
On the Making of a Public Theologian: Proctor’s Cultural Roots
On the Making of a Public Faith
Everybody Is God’s Somebody: A Defense of Black Humanity
Preparing Public Theologians: Black Preachers and Racial Uplift
Creating a Genuine Community: A Black Christian Vision for Transforming American Public Space


The Imposing Preacher is a rich biography—bringing the master preacher and public theologian Samuel DeWitt Proctor to life for current and future generations. Bond points us to the genius of Proctor's preaching being forged in the powerful matrix of social Christianity and a Black social gospel. Proctor's faith was not personal as he tackled in the thorn of racial inequality as a vexing theological problem that the church must work to eradicate. Bond gives us a marvelous blend of homiletical insights and social witness. A must read for those who care deeply about the craft of preaching in troubling times.”
—Emilie M. Townes
Vanderbilt Divinity School

"The Imposing Preacher by Adam L. Bond is an insightful examination of the social gospel theology of Samuel DeWitt Proctor and a major contribution to the study of American/African American Religion, black church history, and social ethics. In an appreciative, analytical, well-researched, clearly written manner, Dr. Bond brings much-deserved attention to this major American minister and thinker whose sermons and other activities reflect a social Christianity combatting racism and injustice."
Sandy Dwayne Martin
University of Georgia