|Life of Carol Weir celebrated in touching memorial service on Jan. 2|
Family and friends gathered on Sunday, Jan. 2, at 3 p.m. to celebrate the life of Carol Weir, the former Hewlett Professor of Evangelism and Mission at San Francisco Theological Seminary. Weir passed Dec. 14, the day before her 86th birthday.
Rev. Jack Shriver, interim pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Oakland, led the memorial service, which included reading from scripture, and mesmerizing music and hymns played on church’s immense pipe organ by Ron McKean, music director and organist.
Other leaders in the service included Ben and Carol’s son John Weir; Rev. Dr. Nuhad Tomeh, associate general secretary of the Middle East Council of Churches and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) regional liaison to Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and the Gulf; Carol Dolezal-Ng development associate for interpretation and support for the Near East School of Theology; and Rev. Max Lynn, (SFTS M.Div. 1994), a former student of the Weirs and current pastor of St. John’s Presbyterian Church in Berkeley.
The service prelude included Bach’s Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring and a flute solo by Lenora Mathias. Hymns included God of Grace and God of Glory; Here I Am, Lord; and For All The Saints.
Marilyn Reynolds sang two beautiful solos, He Shall Feed His Flock and Swing Low Sweet Chariot. Reynolds also shared that she was a graduate of the Near East School of Theology in Beirut, where the Weirs taught for over 30 years.
Numerous SFTS faculty, emeritus faculty, senior administrators and alumni/ae attended the service with hearts filled with gratitude for Carol’s faithful life and ministry.
Both Weir and her husband, Benjamin Weir, earned Master of Arts degrees from SFTS in 1970 and 1964, respectively. Before returning to SFTS where they shared the Hewlett Professor of Evangelism and Mission chair from 1987-95, the Weirs served as Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) missionaries in Lebanon for nearly 30 years.
While the Weirs were living in Lebanon, Ben Weir was kidnapped off the streets of Beirut in 1984 by the Islamic fundamentalist group, Islamic Jihad. He was held captive for 16 months before his release in exchange for U.S. anti-tank weapons as part of the Iran-Contra Affair.
The book Hostage Bound Hostage Free tells the story of Ben Weir’s captivity from his perspective as well as Carol’s. During the time her husband was held captive in Lebanon, Carol worked tirelessly for his release.
Shortly after he was freed, Ben Weir was elected moderator of the 1986 General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the highest elected office in the denomination. He remains one of the world’s most respected voices for peace and reconciliation in the Middle East for the past 20 years.
Carol Weir’s long experience as a Christian educator at American University of Beirut led her to develop a significant Christian education curriculum at SFTS. Along with Ben Weir, she was instrumental in establishing a global emphasis on Christian life and ministry at SFTS. Her hospitality to guests from around the world was legendary.
“Carol came to us as a real live heroine and never lost her lustre,” said Rev. Dr. Jana Childers, SFTS professor of homiletics and speech communications and former dean. “Her ability to persevere in discouraging circumstances and the intensity of her commitment made her an invaluable colleague and teacher. The women faculty, in particular, will miss her encouragement, realism and community spirit.”