George W. Baird, a teaching elder who has served as a pastor and as a stated clerk in a presbytery and a synod, was honored with the C. Fred Jenkins Award Thursday during the 222nd General Assembly (2016) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
The award is presented by the Association of Stated Clerks “to an individual or group that has given wise, prudent, and vigilant support to the Constitution and polity of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).”
Baird was honored for his work to uphold the Constitution of the PC(USA) as pastor of Chapel Lane Presbyterian Church in Midland, Michigan for more than 30 years, and as stated clerk in the Presbytery of Lake Huron (1968-2001) and the Synod of the Covenant (2003-2011.)
“George has always been that hand of friendship to those new to the world of clerking,” association President Doska Ross said in announcing the nominating committee’s unanimous selection of Baird. Ross thanked Baird personally for assuming her role at the Office of the General Assembly while she cared for her ailing husband. Baird said he was surprised to learn that he was to receive the award. “Being surprised is part of my lifelong ministry,” he said, noting that his original call was to pastoral ministry. “It was a wonderful experience,” he said, “and it turned out I could be pastor and stated clerk at the same time.”
“I knew Fred Jenkins well when I was stated clerk in Lake Huron,” Baird said.
Commenting on the “amazing list of people” who have received the award, he said: “God has been a wonderful God. He calls us and prepares us. It’s only by the grace of God that I was able to do what I did. I’m grateful to God, and grateful for all of you here today.”
Ted McCulloch, the current stated clerk of the Presbytery of Lake Huron, said of Baird: “He has the gentlest, kindest heart of any person. He brings the pastor’s soul to the work of the stated clerk. If I can remember that example and bring it to my work, I’ll be really blessed. He’s not only a colleague in ministry, but also a friend, and that means the world.”
“If you have a chance to get to the Office of the General Assembly to see your name on that plaque, with all those other people’s names, [and] the great cloud of witnesses in this church to be honored in the line of Fred Jenkins, it’s unimaginable,” said Alyson Janke, stated clerk of John Knox Presbytery, a previous Jenkins recipient. “Thank God for that grace.”
“You were the first person who showed me you could be a stated clerk with joy,” Stated Clerk of the General Assembly Gradye Parsons told Baird. “You don’t have to be a grouchy clerk, and I appreciate your example. I’ve been a stated clerk of over 20 years, and I’m glad to see the new faces that are taking these positions. The polity [of the PC(USA)] doesn’t work unless we have you here. Thank you for the ways you’ve been supportive of the office.”
Jenkins served as associate stated clerk from 1990 until his death in 2000 and previously as the stated clerk of the Presbytery of the Western Reserve. He was regarded as an authority on the denomination’s constitution and appreciated for his kindness and his love of the church.
The award is presented at each General Assembly. A permanent award is also placed in the Stated Clerks Library in the Office of the General Assembly in Louisville.