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Freda G. Sampson

Three nationally-known preachers, scholars and social justice activists headline a day-long symposium organized by the Frederick G. Sampson Foundation and hosted by the Ecumenical Theological Seminary (ETS) in Detroit.

The symposium, “I Think I Said Something…Prophetic Proclamation & Social Activism,” will be held on Saturday, May 19 at ETS, 2930 Woodward Avenue. It is open to the public and costs $50. Register here.

The day will feature two plenaries, a keynote address and three breakout sessions.

The three featured speakers are:

  • Rev. Dr. Frank A. Thomas – The Nettie Sweeney and Hugh Th. Miller Professor of Homiletics and Director of the Academy of Preaching and Celebration at Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis
  • Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright, Jr. – Pastor Emeritus of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago and a world-renowned preacher, theologian and teacher
  • Rev. Dr. Frederick D. Haynes III – Senior Pastor of Friendship-West Baptist Church in Dallas for 31 years, leading the ministry and membership from less than 100 members in 1983 to more than 12,000 now

All three speakers were friends of Rev. Sampson, who was pastor at Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church for 30 years and a nationally-known preacher, teacher and a leader in civil rights and social activism.

“These three men have been a blessing in my life and I’m grateful that they’re giving their time and their prophetic voice to this symposium,” said Freda Sampson, daughter of Rev. Sampson and president of the FGS Foundation.

The symposium begins with a continental breakfast and opening prayer and meditation at 7 a.m. followed by Rev. Thomas delivering the opening plenary. This will be followed by a breakout session with three options – “Poor Peoples Campaign: Prophesy on the Streets;” Jailbreak: Prison, Power & Patriarchy;” and, “Popular or Prophetic.”

Rev. Wright will then deliver a mid-day keynote address. After lunch, there will be a panel discussion on “Ecumenical Dialogue on Race & Activism in the 21st Century.” The event will close with Rev. Haynes.

Sampson said the foundation is busy with its mission of theological education, social activism and securing the legacy of Dr. Sampson and it is for this reason she wanted to partner with ETS on a symposium.

“Shortly before my dad’s death I became more conscious of his support of ETS,” said Sampson, who recently joined the ETS board. “So, I knew he had an appreciation for the institution.”

Rev. Sampson was born in Mansura, Louisiana and raised in Port Arthur, Texas. Initially interested in the sciences and medicine, his calling to ministry led him on a journey throughout the country and eventually led him to the Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church in Detroit in 1971.

He earned two doctorate degrees, several other degrees, including many honorary ones. He lectured at colleges across the country, conducted yearly revivals and broadcast regularly on the radio. His work included conducting conferences on African American male spirituality, planning the 1965 voting rights march with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and serving as president of the Detroit branch of the NAACP. He was twice named one of the 15 Greatest Black Preachers in America by Ebony Magazine.

He passed away in 2001, and his daughter started the foundation that same year with the goals of offering international teaching and training courses through the Sampson Institute for the purpose of theological discourse and to publish the collection of works of Rev. Sampson. The foundation was granted nonprofit status in 2003.

Sampson said rarely does a day go by that someone doesn’t share with her a story about how her father influenced them. And while he traveled around the world he was a very present and attentive father.

She said it was “a remarkable gift and a blessing to be selected as his daughter.” Sampson will also release her book on her father titled, “I Think I Said Something” on the day of the symposium.

“My father was my pastor, my friend and my biggest supporter,” Sampson said. “But more than that, he was the most amazing and loving father, and the kindest human being I have ever known.”