I'm Stuart D. "Stu" Smith. I graduated from McCormick Theological Seminary in 1988 with an MDiv. From 1989 to 1996, I was an outreach minister at The Night Ministry. In that position, I walked the streets of Chicago at night working with persons underserved by traditional churches and secular social service agencies. I served primarily in the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago.
In 1995, I founded Café Pride a coffee house/drop-in center for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth. I served as the director of the Café until 2008. It continued as an outreach ministry of Lake View Presbyterian Church. until 2016.
While I was finishing my doctorate, I served at McCormick Theological Seminary as Director of Public Relations and Communications. In that position I maintained the Seminary's website and supervised or designed the institution's print materials.
In much of my professional life I have been involved in the use of computers (My first computer science class was in the Fortran language in 1972.) Soon after I founded Café Pride, a couple of the young men who had become regulars at the coffee house challenged me to "get serious" about promoting Café Pride and build the ministry a website. By the end of 1996, we had a presence on the web. I quickly recognized that the internet held great potential for all sorts of religious outreach.
My doctoral project was the development of a web-based educational environment for teens using music, art, and literature resources already available on the internet. You may examine the current edition of the website I built to demonstrate my thesis here.
I received a Doctor of Ministry Degree from McCormick in 2001 with a concentration in Religious Education. My doctoral thesis was Out of the Church Basement and into Cyberspace: Internet-Based Religious Education for Youth. At graduation, I received McCormick's 2001 John Randall Hunt prize for the outstanding Doctor of Ministry thesis.
In 2001, I began serving as the Stated Supply pastor at St. James Presbyterian Church in the West Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago. I served there for over ten years
Online Religious Education
In addition to my paid ministry, I produce religious education materials and offer them on the web.
These websites were initially built to hold my notes for my own teaching, and now I offer them to anyone of any religious tradition who finds them useful. None of these websites should be used to replace the face-to-face interaction and personal relationships that characterize a worshiping community. They were designed to fill in the background, to whet the appetite, and sometimes to push students beyond what anyone would be expected to master. Some of this material is obviously only for more adventurous students.
If you use these materials as a religious educator and have the time, I'd love to hear how you've been able to use this material. Additionally, if you find errors in the coding or in the text, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.