Can you offer a more comprehensive definition of the Presbyterian denomination?
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), with denominational offices in Louisville, Kentucky, has approximately two million members, more than 10,000 congregations, and 21,000 plus ordained and active ministers. Presbyterians trace their history to the 16th century and the Protestant Reformation. Its heritage, and much of its doctrine began with John Calvin (1509-1564), whose writings crystallized much of the Reformed thinking that preceded him. Presbyterians in the USA also trace their roots to Scotland, whose main export throughout the years, some claim, is education, and they pride themselves on the 64 Colleges in America that are PCUSA affiliated.
What role do you play within your faith? What kind of guidance can you offer students?
I am a graduate of Hamilton College and Princeton Theological Seminary with earned doctorate (an STD) from San Francisco Theological Seminary. I have pastored congregations in suburban Philadelphia PA., Phoenix AZ., San Francisco CA, and Athens OH., and served two elected terms on our national General Assembly Council and 11 years as a member of our National Committee on the Self development of People. I serve now, in retirement, as Adjunct Religious Advisor at Amherst College and Member of the U. of Mass., Amherst Religious Affairs Committee as well as Community Religious Advisor at Smith, and as occasional preacher at area churches. For many, I suppose at this point, I am a sort of grandfather figure.
My wife and I have two children and four grandchildren, one of whom is a graduate of the University of Chicago (with honors!), two of whom began their lives in Ethiopia, and the last is currently a high school student in Lexington, MA.
I think of myself as a good listener (I am not out to convert anyone to Presbyterianism, or Christianity, for that matter). My wife and I (we met at Princeton Theological Seminary) are pleased to meet with students in Northampton, and/or to welcome students to our home in Amherst. Our daughter, incidentally, is a 1981 graduate of Smith, and my wife and I worship most Sunday mornings with a UCC congregation in South Amherst that is pastored by a member of the Smith Class of 1979.
How long have you been involved with the Smith College Community? How has the College's spirituality changed over time?
My wife and I moved to Amherst in 1999, and I have been involved, as religious advisor at Smith, since then; but our involvement with Smith really began in 1977 when our daughter became a student there. I regret the passing of weekly college worship services (at which I preached on occasion), but salute the movement from Christian ecumenism to interfaith understanding and appreciate the apparent need to accommodate to a significantly changing religious scene.
What have you learned from your time at Smith College?
What a fine group of students Smith continues to attract.
My wife and I have come to know both how difficult growing up in America can be these days, and how amazing the opportunities and possibilities there are for significant contact with people of vastly different perspectives and backgrounds both on campus, in the area, and abroad.