Rev. Smith to take on new challenges
By Matt Tidman, a senior from Wilmore, Ky.
WILMORE, KY—Campus Chaplain the Rev. Stu Smith loves working with Asbury College students; just ask him.
“The highlight [of working at Asbury College] has always been doing life with students,�? Smith said. “I keep thinking that one year we won’t have so many good students come in, but it’s never happened.�?
But after more than 20 years of being involved with Asbury’s campus, Smith is taking a new position in the advancement office, meeting with alumni and fostering relationships for the College.
“It’s the same call, but it’s a different avenue,�? Smith said.
Members of the Asbury community have seen this new position as a logical step for Smith to take.
“I definitely think it will be a good thing,�? said Josiah Littrell ’07. “I think his respectability and knack for building and sustaining relationships will serve this institution very well as he moves to this new capacity.�?
Smith and Littrell have shared a mentoring relationship since September 2006, meeting every week until Littrell graduated. These sessions created a lasting relationship that they still carry on today.
“Since graduation we typically sit down and have lunch about once a month to catch up on one another's lives and see how things are going,�? said Littrell.
Smith and Littrell shared more than a mentoring relationship. Often Smith and Littrell would poke fun at each other, especially during chapel. Littrell would make fun of Smith’s
lack of a “flowing mane of hair,�? and Smith would poke back with a jab about Littrell’s love life. The vocal sparring match eventually ended with Littrell holding up the white flag of surrender in his last chapel as a student, giving Smith the last word.
However, last year Smith said he felt that God was leading him toward a new path. He didn’t know if God wanted him to move into a new position at Asbury or to serve as far away as Africa.
"I wouldn’t move a foot unless I sensed that it was God’s leading,�? Smith said. “When he says, ‘This is the way, walk ye in it,’ I’m going.�? Smith added that he couldn’t ignore God’s will.
It was during a meeting with President Dr. Sandra Gray that the position in the advancement office was first revealed. Smith said that after talking with Gray he was sure that the advancement office position was where God wanted him to go. In the advancement office, Smith will visit Asbury College alumni, helping them remember their experiences and finding ways to contribute to the College, through monetary gifts or acts of service.
Smith is leaving a mark from his service as dean of men, dean of campus ministries, and campus chaplain.
“I know I learned a lot from him about how he really shepherds students on this campus, how he cares for them, how he’s present for them,�? said Joy Ireland, assistant director of campus ministries. “The relationships he’s built over the last couple of decades are going to be very influential in another area.�?
Smith said the advancement position utilizes skills that God has given him in many of the same ways. His sense of humility will help him in this role, as well as his sense of humor. But the most important skill that he brings to this new position is his ability to foster relationships.
“I’m a people person,�? Smith said he will be able to rekindle old relationships and extend care and understand to a cross-section of alumni.
Ireland witnessed Smith’s impact on alumni during a recent alumni event. Smith was late for a meeting with Ireland. When he finally arrived, he explained that during alumni weekend “there’s no way I’m getting from one place to the other in less than 20 minutes.�? Ireland added, “He couldn’t walk from the cafeteria to Fletcher-Early without being stopped a litany of times [by returning alumni]. He brings deep relationships that I think are key.�?
Smith said that he was saddened by the move originally, but he knows that this is what God wants for him and couldn’t remain sad for long.
“I’m really excited about getting reacquainted with a lot of students and families and churches that I’ve known in the past,�? Smith said.
Smith also wished to offer the new dean for campus ministries luck.
“I’m also excited about the new person that will come and do chapel, the dean for Campus Ministries,�? Smith said. “I will be their biggest fan, and I know the Lord is really going to get a wonderful person to step in.�?