San Francisco Theological Seminary extends its sympathy to the family and colleagues of Dr. Laird J. Stuart, who peacefully passed away today, December 19, 2018. Dr. Stuart served as Interim President and Professor of Pastoral Theology at SFTS from 2010-2011, and was also a member of the SFTS Board of Trustees from 1997-2006, the final two years as board chair.
Dr. Elizabeth Liebert, who served as SFTS Dean during Dr. Stuart’s Presidency, remembered him fondly:
“SFTS had to wait several months while its new Interim President, Laird Stuart, bid farewell to Calvary Church, his pastorate of thirteen years. But it was so worth the wait! With his extensive knowledge of the PC (USA), his superb pastoral sensibilities and his prior knowledge and faithful service of SFTS as Board Chair, Laird was exquisitely prepared to lead SFTS through a rocky transition. Laird modeled how to lean into the challenges and to work together to find the best way to proceed given difficult circumstances. I will be forever grateful for his steady, unassuming presence and strong yet collaborative leadership. I know I am not alone in my affection and deep gratitude for this true servant of God.”
Dr. Stuart’s ministry spanned over 40 years, including pastorates in Presbyterian churches in Milford, CT, Bergenfield, NJ, Grand Haven, MI, and St. Clair, PA, and many local and national leadership positions in the Presbyterian Church (USA). Prior to his SFTS Presidency, he was pastor of Calvary Presbyterian Church of San Francisco (1993-2010). At the national level, Stuart served as a commissioner to four General Assemblies. In 1986, he was vice chair of the General Assembly Committee on Mission Design, and in 1997 he chaired the General Assembly Committee on the Book of Order. From 1999-2001, he served as co-moderator of the Covenant Network of Presbyterians, and in 2002, he was a candidate for Moderator of the General Assembly.
Stuart earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Amherst College in Massachusetts, Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees from Princeton Theological Seminary, a Doctor of Divinity degree from Waynesburg University in Waynesburg, PA, and a Doctor of Divinity degree from Westminster College in New Wilmington, PA.
As the SFTS community joined its prayers to the many being offered up on behalf of the Stuart family, current Dean and Vice President of Academic Affairs, Dr. Jana Childers remembered Dr. Stuart with gratitude:
“He was a Christ-like man: strong, loving and wise in an age where that combination seems increasingly rare. Charming and then some, he embodied grace. In short, Laird Stuart was the quintessential pastor who showed us what a life lived for others looks like. Even as we hold Gini and the family in prayer, we already miss him.”