As most of you know, one of the great blessings we have had as a congregation is the service of Cindy Simmons and Steve Simmons as “Parish Associates.”

In the Presbyterian Church (USA), ordained Ministers of Word Rev JC Austinand Sacrament are not members of congregations; they are members of the Presbytery. The position of Parish Associate was created so that Ministers of Word and Sacrament who are not serving a pastorate can still affiliate with and contribute to a local congregation.

Cindy and Steve have contributed here at First Pres in an astonishing number of ways, from preaching and worship leadership to teaching in children and adult education ministries to providing pastoral care to singing in the choir! The beauty of a Parish Associate position is that it is extremely flexible, and can be tailored to the particular gifts and calling of the Minister in question.

I am delighted to announce that we have two new Parish Associates, in addition to Cindy and Steve, as of this summer! Ginny Smith and Richard Smith are both ordained, retired ministers living at Kirkland, and they were approved as Parish Associates by the Session last spring. In fact, Ginny preached just last week! They are a wonderful addition to our congregation and to our ministry together, and I am grateful for the gifts and enthusiasm that they bring.

Let’s meet them here:

The Reverend Dr. Virginia B. “Ginny” Smith is retired Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) clergy, having retired from her work as Associate Executive Presbyter for Ministry in Chicago Presbytery in 2011. She received her Master of Divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton, NJ, and her Doctor of Ministry degree from McCormick Theological Seminary, Chicago, IL.

In addition, during her 41 years of ordained ministry, she served as associate pastor at the First Presbyterian Church, Red Bank, NJ; pastor of the Onondaga Valley Presbyterian Church, Syracuse, NY; associate pastor/head of staff at First Presbyterian Church in the City of New York; and pastor/head of staff at Hopewell Presbyterian Church, Hopewell, NJ.  From 1996-1999, she served on the faculty at McCormick Seminary as Mohr Professor of Ministry. In 2012 she received Professional Certification in Spiritual Gerontology from the Johnson Institute, St. Louis, Missouri. She served on the staff at the Spiritual Renewal Center, Syracuse, NY, as a spiritual director and workshop leader from 2012 until moving to Kirkland Village in 2022.

Since her baptism at the Hillside Avenue Presbyterian Church, Orange, NJ, on October 1, 1944, she has not known a day when she was not a part of a Presbyterian congregation. A local church community has always been at the center of her life. As retired PCUSA clergy, she has found it essential to her spiritual well-being and her relationship with the God she knows in Jesus Christ to find a congregation where she can use the gifts God has given her for the good of Christ’s Church and the well-being of others. She has found such a community at First Presbyterian Church, Bethlehem.

Since Ministers of the Word and Sacrament are members of the Presbytery, serving as Parish Associate in a local church is how she can be “officially” connected to a congregation and continue to volunteer in whatever ways are helpful to the Pastors, the congregation, and the community at large. She has truly found a church home at FPCB and believe that the gifts God has given her, as well as her education and experience can be of benefit as we journey together.

The Rev. Dr. Richard W. Smith was raised in an American Baptist Church in Brockton, MA, 20 miles south of Boston. After graduation from Eastern Baptist Seminary in Philadelphia in 1973, he served his first church in Vermont and was Ordained in 1974 by the Vermont Baptists Association. In 1979 he received the Doctor of Ministry degree in Pastoral Care and Counseling from Andover Newton Theological School. He also served churches in Connecticut, Erie, PA, and Syracuse, NY.

Richard was received into the PC (USA) in 1995 by the Presbytery of New York City. Since then, he has served churches in Brooklyn, four churches in Chicago, and a Church in New Jersey. He had training in Interim Ministry and most of his Ministry as a Presbyterian has been in Interim situations.

As an Honorable Retired Pastor, since 2012, he likes to use the gifts he has been given (while he is still able) which is why he looks forward to serving as a Parish Associate.  Richard likes to visit, teach (he has certification in Spiritual Direction), preach on occasion, and help where needed.

He is an avid photographer, and combines that with Spirituality in a course he has taught called “Contemplative Photography.” He enjoys photographing birds, seashores (Cape Cod), landscapes, and an on occasion, portraits. 

Ginny and Richard have three adult children and eight grandchildren. We welcome them to First Pres!

Grace & Peace,