Kirk Smith became Fifth Bishop of Arizona in 2004. The son of a Presbyterian minister, he grew up in New Jersey and Phoenix Arizona. While earning his baccalaureate in history at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon, Smith broke from his family tradition and was received into the Episcopal Church. He went on to earn his Ph.D. in medieval church history from Cornell University in 1976, having spent an academic year at Oxford University studying and writing his thesis. He then studied for holy orders at the Berkeley Seminary at Yale, was deaconed in 1979, and ordained a priest in 1980, through the auspices of his home diocese of Arizona.
In 1991, after serving in two parishes in Connecticut, Smith moved with his wife and young family to St. James’ Church, Los Angeles, a large urban multicultural parish with a K-6 school. During his tenure the school completed a $3 million capital campaign, and its music became world-class. Parish membership expanded more deeply into the Nigerian, Korean and Anglo communities. While at St. James’ Church, Smith taught Anglican history at the Episcopal Seminary at Claremont, served as Diocesan Ecumenical Officer, and was made an honorary Canon of the Cathedral of the Diocese of Los Angeles. Smith was remarried in 1996, to Laura Fisher Smith, a graphic designer. He received an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree in October 2005, from Berkeley Divinity School at Yale.
Bishop Smith has authored two books during his episcopate. In 2013, he and three fellow ecumenical bishops (Catholic, Lutheran and United Methodist) wrote Bishops on the Border: Pastoral Responses to Immigration about their common experiences with key immigration issues, especially those being played out in the state of Arizona.
Augustine’s Relic: Lessons from the Oldest Book in England was published in 2016. After spending time with the St. Augustine’s Gospels, believed to be the oldest non-archeological object in Great Britain, Smith used this great volume as a starting point for a contemporary conversation on communication, unity, and continuity.