Some may remember James Smith ’05 as manager of the men’s basketball team, a member of the Wagner College choir, and a resident assistant in Harborview Hall. Today, he is the Reverend James Smith, having graduated from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia last year.
Returning to Wagner completes the homecoming cycle that drew him into the ministry. For his first two years of higher education, Smith majored in radio and television production at a community college. But as the son of a longtime pastor — Mack Smith of Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church in Wyandanch, New York, in central Long Island — James Smith says the call eventually proved irresistible.
“No P.K. (preacher’s kid) wants to acknowledge ‘the call’ right away, but it’s always there,” he said. “I finally stopped fighting it.” Following in the footsteps of his sister, Juli Smith ’04 M’08, he came to Wagner. He was a part of the Upsala scholarship program for ministerial candidates.
Succeeding Rev. Richard Michael, Smith is serving in a full-time capacity as the lead chaplain.
“Our call to Pastor Smith indicates our commitment to Wagner’s historic heritage as a Lutheran institution and our recognition of the special relationship we have with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, as well as our desire to serve those of all faiths, including those who would identify their spirituality in humanistic rather than theistic terms,” says President Guarasci.
“With Pastor Smith now on board, Wagner College is prepared to take the next step in developing its capacity to nurture the growth of the whole student — mind, body and faith — into a more complete picture of the educated global citizen,” he continues.
The cottage which had formerly served as the chaplain’s on-campus residence is being refurbished as the Wagner College Center for Spirituality, with offices for Pastor Smith and the College’s associate chaplains, informal meeting spaces, and a chapel for all the faith communities served by the College.