Campus preacher Brother Jed dies at 79


Cameron Krasucki

Brother Jed visits the University’s campus with Sister Cindy on Sept 8. The preacher died on Monday at the age of 79.

By Vivian La, Assistant News Editor

George Smock, better known as Brother Jed to campus communities, died on Monday. He was 79, according to a funeral home in Indiana.

Born on Jan. 4, 1943 in Brookings, S.D., Smock was a preacher who directed his messages to students on college campuses across the country. He was well-known for his confrontational style that cautioned students against what he believed were sinful acts.

Smock preached for the last time on May 17 at the University of Missouri.

He grew up in Terre Haute, Ind., and attended Indiana State University. Smock studied history and received a master’s degree from the school in the 1960s. 

After converting to Christianity in 1972 during a trip to Morocco, Smock decided to focus on reaching college students. He said he formed Campus Ministry USA in 1984 because he believed “universities control the mind of America.”

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Traveling to different campuses with his wife, Cindy Smock or Sister Cindy, clips of their messages were often captured on social media with crowds of students surrounding them.

On Monday, Sister Cindy posted a tribute video to her husband on TikTok, writing that “Brother Jed, my beloved husband, faithful soldier of the cross, is with the Lord now.”

Smock’s confrontational style of preaching drew large crowds. Some would come to argue with his rhetoric, which was described to The Daily Illini in 2012 as sexist and homophobic. Others came for entertainment, finding Smock and his entourage funny, as told to The Daily Illini in 2021.

In 2013, Smock moved his ministry group from Columbia, Miss. to Terre Haute, Ind. with the intention of reaching larger midwest schools, including the University.

Smock often preached in public spaces, preventing any legal action despite student concern. Some have started petitions in an attempt to ban all campus preachers, such as a student at Purdue University in 2015.

Smock claimed on his website that he has been pied, mobbed, egged and physically abused. 

At Indiana University in 2019, Smock was issued a trespass warning after allegedly pushing a man outside a school building. 

Funeral services for Smock will be held at the end of the month in his hometown of Terre Haute, Ind. Smock is survived by his wife, brother, five children and ten grandchildren.


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