The Rev. Jeremiah Wright, 66, retired last month as pastor of Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ, whose motto is "unashamedly black...

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The Rev. Jeremiah Wright, 66, retired last month as pastor of Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ, whose motto is “unashamedly black and unapologetically Christian.”

He is a beloved figure in African-American Christian circles and a frequent guest in pulpits around the country. After arriving at Trinity in 1972, he built a 6,000-member congregation. His preaching melds detailed scriptural analysis, black power, Afrocentrism and an emphasis on social justice.

Wright’s most powerful influence, said several ministers and scholars who have followed his career, is black liberation theology, which interprets the Bible as a guide to combating oppression of African Americans.

He attracts audiences because of, not in spite of, his outspoken critiques of racism and inequality, Dwight Hopkins, a professor at University of Chicago Divinity School, said last year.

Wright’s defenders said the statements that have been playing this week are taken out of context, and he is not anti-white.

The United Church of Christ, the denomination of the Chicago church, is overwhelmingly white. And Wright is an equal-opportunity critic, often delivering scorching lectures about black society, telling audiences to improve their educations and work ethic.

“I can remember Jeremiah saying in probably half his sermons: Everyone who’s your color ain’t your kind,” Richard Sewell, a church member, said last year.

On Friday, the United Church of Christ (UCC) issued a 1,400-word statement defending Wright and his “flagship” congregation. It lauded Wright’s church for its community service and work to nurture young people and the pastor for speaking out against homophobia and sexism in the black community.

“It’s time for all of us to say no to these attacks and to declare that we will not allow anyone to undermine or destroy the ministries of any of our congregations in order to serve their own narrow political or ideological ends,” said John Thomas, UCC’s president.