Joseph Smittick, son of Wendy and Joe Smittick, has been speaking in public since the age of 8 and preached his first sermon at 10 years old. Through the combination of both grandfathers being pastors, coming from a Christian home and attending Adventist schools, he was taught to use his talents for God.

After many years of competing in orations, Joseph has perfected his craft of public speaking and recently won first place in the Honorable Barry C. Black Oratorical Contest, as well as first place in the Temperance Contest. Both events were held at the United Youth Congress in Virginia Beach on April 16. Joseph presented Barack Obama’s 2004 Illinois state senate speech and a speech on the topic of recreational marijuana titled “He Ain’t Died for This.”

As enthusiasts of Christian education, The Pine Forge Academy Foundation, Black Adventist Youth Directors Association, representatives from Oakwood Academy, Greater Atlanta Adventist Academy, and Chaplain Barry Black came together to support and sponsor this scholarship-based inaugural event.

The event is named after the internationally acclaimed orator and author, The Honorable Chaplain Rear Admiral Barry C. Black, USN (Ret.). This man, who once preached to pots in the café in preparation for an oratorical contest while a student at Pine Forge Academy, is recognized in the upper echelon of orators in all of Adventism and throughout the world. The first place prize was $1,000. The Chaplain Black Foundation committed an additional $2,500 scholarship prize. In addition, the first place prize for the Temperance Contest was $1,200. Joseph will formally present the oratorical contest traveling trophy to the next winner of this prestigious award.

“Barry Black is a very inspirational figure for the Adventist community, and I hope to follow in his footsteps as an orator and as a man of God,” says Joseph. “I am truly blessed to receive this honor. I am still in awe of the ways God has been working in my life. When people hear me preach they tend to think I have some deep, profound understanding of God and the Bible, but in reality I’m just like everyone else. There are many days when I struggle with my faith, or waiver from God’s plan for my life. Even though I’ve been preaching for almost 10 years now, I still get nervous when I get up front to talk. I often feel like I don’t have the right words or that people won’t relate to what I have to say. In Rev 12:11 it says ‘And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony.’ So essentially we are all called to testify. It doesn’t matter who phrases things the best or has the most interesting stories or tells the best jokes, it’s about telling your story and letting God use it to help others.”

Not only will Joseph graduate from Mile High Academy this year ranked number one in his class, but he holds the distinction of being the first African American male class president of this 100-year-old school. He is excited about pursuing a degree in Biomedical Science at Oakwood University this fall.