Ozarks student commissioned as delegate to national Presbyterian General Assembly

Release Date: 6/11/2012

Ryan Smith, a sophomore from Springdale, Ark., has been commissioned as the Arkansas student representative to attend the 220th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) when it gathers June 30 through July 7 in Pittsburgh, Penn.

Ryan Smith

Ryan Smith, a sophomore from Springdale, Ark., has been commissioned as the Arkansas student representative to attend the 220th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA).

"The General Assembly meets every two years," said Smith. "This is the PC-USA's biggest meeting. It's where they vote on what is going to happen with all the Presbyteries all over the country. Each state sends four delegates as well as one or two college delegates. So that's where I'm going for a week. I'll get to meet and spend time with all the other youth delegates from around the country. They have a bunch of activities scheduled to help us get to know one another. Best of all, we get so sit in on the General Assembly itself and participate in their activities."

The week-long meeting also hosts numerous ticketed presentations on a wide variety of subjects pertaining to Presbyterianism and serving in the church.

Smith says his connection to the event, and his invitation to participate, came as a result of his father, J. Stewart Smith.

"My dad is the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Springdale," he said. "I've been helping out with youth activities at my hometown church since I've begun to feel a religious calling. I'm a member of U of O Presbyterian Campus Ministries, and I serve on the Youth Advisory Team for the Arkansas Presbytery, so my name was out there already. The person who was supposed to go as college delegate had to pull out for some reason, and they were looking for a replacement when my name came up. So they contacted my father to ask if I'd like to be their delegate, and of course I said yes."

"I fly out to Pittsburgh on June 29," Smith said. "The youth activities begin a little earlier than the rest of the Assembly so we have time to figure out what's going on, meet one another, and study through the agendas for the Assembly on what's going to be voted on and so forth. It all goes until July 7."

Smith is currently majoring is English with an emphasis on religion, but that could change.

"I've taken a couple business classes lately that have caught my attention, so I'm considering changing to that, or perhaps communications," he said.

Smith said whatever he ends up majoring in, his faith will be a part of his career once he's finished at U of O. He said he knows he definitely wants to be involved in youth ministry. "I genuinely feel I can help kids," he said. "I love helping people in general, and I want to help kids toward strengthening their relation with God. I feel I could do that and combine it somehow with the business or marketing world. Maybe do marketing in conjunction with my youth ministry. I'll figure it out."

Smith says coming to Ozarks was a natural choice for him. "I love it here," he said. "The first time I stepped on campus, I knew this was the place I wanted to be. It was home, the best possible place I could imagine to further my education. And it is."