Started UPSem 2018: Jason Smith

  1. Started UPSem 2002: Rev. Lori Raible (MDiv 2006)
  2. Started UPSem 2003: Rev. Dr. Ophelia Garmon-Brown (MDiv 2008)
  3. Started UPSem 2004: Rev. Nadine Ellsworth-Moran (MDiv / MACE 2011)
  4. Started UPSem 2005: Rev. Noe Juarez-Loayza (MDiv 2010)
  5. Started UPSem 2006: Rev. Lorenzo Small (MDiv 2013)
  6. Started UPSem 2007: Rev. Ken Fuquay (MACE 2011 / MDiv 2015)
  7. Started UPSem 2008: Rev. Jonathan Davis (MDiv 2014) 
  8. Started UPSem 2009: Rev. British Hyrams (MDiv/MACE 2016)
  9. Started UPSem 2010: Rev. Charmaine Smith (MDiv 2017)
  10. Started UPSem 2011: Rev. Vikki Brogdon (MDiv 2016)
  11. Started UPSem 2012: Rev. Dr. Doug Harr (MDiv 2018)
  12. Started UPSem 2013: Martin Pruitt (MDiv 2018 / MACE 2019)
  13. Started UPSem 2014: Rev. William Joseph “Joey” Haynes III (MDiv 2019)
  14. Started UPSem 2015: Rev. Gail Henderson-Belsito (MDiv 2020)
  15. Started UPSem 2016: Rev. Eric Tang (MDiv 2021)
  16. Started UPSem 2017: Rev. Marina Luckhoo (pursuing MDiv)
  17. Started UPSem 2018: Jason Smith
  18. Started UPSem 2019: Ryan Atkinson
  19. Started UPSem 2020: Sedae Slaughter (pursuing MACE)
  20. Started UPSem 2021: Matt Wiedle (pursuing MDiv and MACE)

The following is part of a series of 20 profiles that represent each year that Charlotte has been enrolling students. 

Pursuing MDiv
Local Pastor
Piney Grove UMC and Shady Grove UMC
Staff Attorney
Clyde, North Carolina

Born and reared in the mountains and foothills of the Carolinas, Jason Smith now calls Clyde, North Carolina, home. Before landing in Clyde, Smith attended Clemson University and the University of Tennessee College of Law, working as both a criminal defense attorney and an Assistant District Attorney for the State of North Carolina. Eventually, Smith served as a prosecutor in the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in Tribal Court and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina. In more recent years, he has served with companies working with local law enforcement agencies. After nearly two decades practicing law, Smith added to his calling a second vocation and became licensed as a Local Pastor with The United Methodist Church.

Feeling a pull toward ordained ministry following participation in a Walk to Emmaus retreat, he was pleased by the call but not the educational path it implied. Smith remarks, “I immediately dismissed it because I’d had enough of school during my legal training. However, like my Emmaus encounter, the thought of entering seminary also proved unignorable. Once I acquiesced to the call to enter seminary, I experienced an indescribable peace.”

As a United Methodist, Smith found that not all seminaries are approved for those seeking ordination in The United Methodist Church. Union Presbyterian Seminary is. This made Smith’s decision easier. However, what truly sold him on enrolling in UPSem Charlotte was the design of the program. “I found UPSem’s Charlotte program to be unique. I was drawn to the opportunity for a traditional cohort experience, despite the nontraditional part-time schedule that I would require as a second-career aspiring pastor who could not neglect familial responsibilities for a full-time residential seminary experience.” The class schedule, warmth of the campus staff and faculty, and supportive cohort have only confirmed his choice. “UPSem is a family,” he concludes. “I think that is what I was most struck by when I visited and ultimately enrolled. Granted, we meet only once a week during our three semesters each year, but I feel confident that I could call on any member of the student body or faculty/staff in times of need. I would receive prayers, support, attention, and love. The compassion is genuine and abundant. For a non-residential campus comprised of part-time (mostly second-career) students, that is not something that you will find in many other seminaries. The nature of a part-time distance program defies the ability to easily create a community that feels like a family. However, UPSem has done that and has done it exceptionally well.”

Now bi-vocational, Smith serves two small churches in Haywood County where he lives with his wife, their two boys, a beagle, a turtle, and a fish.