Rather than being a student of the late John Leith, I had the unique privilege of being John and Ann’s pastor following John’s retirement from Union Theological Seminary. The Leiths moved to the Presbyterian Home in Easley, South Carolina, and began worshiping at the Easley Presbyterian Church, where I served as pastor. It was more than a little intimidating to have Dr. Leith sitting on the front pew each Sunday morning. That is, until he was confined to a wheelchair, and then he sat in front of the front pew. Both John and Ann were always very gracious to me, and I enjoyed numerous visits with them. I always left their apartment with both arms full of books.
I’ve never been quite certain if John invited me to be in a study seminar as an act of hospitality, or because he felt I needed theological remediation. I’m guessing it was a bit of both. Regardless of the reason, it has been one of the best experiences of my ministry. Not only has the theological study been of great benefit, but the friendships I have gained in our study group have been a source of great strength and joy. Getting to spend a week in Princeton in the spring is pretty nice, as well.
Having the opportunity to know the Leiths in a pastoral, rather than academic, setting has been one of the great blessings of my life and ministry. That blessing continues each year through my study group, and I am grateful Dr. Leith invited me into this excellent program.