From the Witherspoon president
|The President's Corner
Ken Smith, President of the
From the Summer 2004 issue of Network News.
Posted here on 9-4-04.
Let's get acquainted
by Ken Smith
The Witherspoon Society is an interesting organization. Although most
readers of this issue know that I am the new President of Witherspoon,
unless you regularly attend General Assembly you probably know very little
else about me. My purpose in this initial column is to fill in that gap so
that you will know the context out of which my leadership will be coming.
I was born and raised in Kansas City, MO. I grew up in the
Congregational Church, which became part of the United Church of Christ
while I was in college. I graduated from Carleton College in 1961 and
enrolled in Chicago Theological Seminary. However, like our GA Moderator, I
am a seminary dropout. I married Barbara Dreyer in 1962. We have two adult
sons, one of whom is bisexual, and six grandchildren. We settled in Chicago
and I began my pursuit of an actuarial career. This pursuit took us from
Chicago to Cleveland and finally to Detroit, where we have lived since 1982.
I took early retirement in 1991, but my work for social justice didn't wait
until I retired. Early involvements included marching with Dr. Martin Luther
King in Selma in 1965 and being part of a congregation working on racial
reconciliation in the Presbytery of the Western Reserve.
After I retired I became active at both presbytery and
national levels. In the Presbytery of Detroit, I chaired both the Social
Justice and Peacemaking and the Racial Ethnic Concerns Committees. I was
part of a group that worked to create the Presbytery's Anti-Racism team,
served as one of the initial co-chairs and continue as a member of the team
today. I was elected as a Commissioner to the 1996 GA in Albuquerque. I was
the Moderator of the Detroit Presbytery in 2003, which meant I was also a
commissioner to the Denver GA that year.
My first involvement at the national level of the PC(USA)
was using my actuarial skills to work on the issue of health care reform,
working through the Interreligious Health Care Access Campaign and the
Presbyterian Health Network, which I later moderated. This initial
involvement got me to the 1993 GA in Orlando and suddenly the scope of my
involvement dramatically broadened. I even got my picture in The Layman
during a floor demonstration following the vote to make the 1978 Definitive
Guidance an Authoritative Interpretation. I have attended every GA since,
with the exception of 1995. I have served as the Moderator of Semper
Reformanda and helped negotiate the merger of Semper and Witherspoon in
2001. I'm also a regular at the School of the Americas demonstration each
I hope this background information has been helpful. I'd
love to hear from any of you (contact information on the back of Network
News) who have thoughts about where we should be going as an
organization. I'll end with a phrase that greets me as I shave each morning:
justice and compassion for all.
Some blogs worth visiting
Mitch Trigger, PVJ's
Secretary/Communicator, has created a Facebook page where
Witherspoon members and others can gather to exchange news and
views. Mitch and a few others have posted bits of news, both
personal and organizational. But there’s room for more!
You can post your own news and views,
or initiate a conversation about a topic of interest to you.
for Life" website
Long-time and stimulating blogger John Shuck,
a Presbyterian minister currently
serving as pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Elizabethton,
Tenn., writes about spirituality, culture, religion (both organized
and disorganized), life, evolution, literature, Jesus, and
Click here for his blog posts.
Click here for podcasts of his radio program, which "explores
the intersection of religion, social justice and public life."
John Harris’ Summit to
Theological and philosophical
reflections on everything between summit to shore, including
kayaking, climbing, religion, spirituality, philosophy, theology,
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), New York City and the Queens
neighborhood of Ridgewood -- by a progressive New York City
Presbyterian Pastor. John is a former member of the Witherspoon
board, and is designated pastor of North Presbyterian Church in
Voices of Sophia blog
Heather Reichgott, who has created
this new blog for Voices of Sophia, introduces it:
After fifteen years of scholarship
and activism, Voices of Sophia presents a blog. Here, we present the
voices of feminist theologians of all stripes: scholars, clergy,
students, exiles, missionaries, workers, thinkers, artists, lovers
and devotees, from many parts of the world, all children of the God
in whose image women are made. .... This blog seeks to glorify God
through prayer, work, art, and intellectual reflection. Through
articles and ensuing discussion we hope to become an active and
Got more blogs to recommend?
send a note, and we'll see what we can do!