The Rev. Robert Stuart, pastor emeritus of the Amagansett Presbyterian Church, will be honored on the occasion of his 80th birthday on Sunday following the 11 a.m. worship service. The Rev. Steven Howarth, the church’s present pastor, has invited Mr. Stuart to preach in the pulpit.
Mr. Stuart served as pastor in Amagansett for 17 years, retiring in 1998. Born in Minneapolis and raised in suburban St. Louis, he earned a master’s degree in American history at the University of Wisconsin before graduating from Princeton Theological Seminary in 1962.
Prior to attending seminary, he was drafted; as a conscientious objector, he served for two years in the psychiatric ward of a Kansas City, Kan., hospital. The experience was a turning point, he told The Star in a 2012 interview coinciding with the 50th anniversary of his ordination. “As a result of that, I decided to change career direction and go into the ministry,” he said.
Mr. Stuart served as pastor in Wheeling, W.Va., Ringwood, N.J., and, as an interim pastor, Bellingham, Wash., before arriving in Amagansett. “It was just the perfect move, it was just wonderful,” he said in 2012.
Always a proponent of a church that is active in the community, Mr. Stuart had been involved in President Lyndon Johnson’s antipoverty programs in the 1960s and ’70s. In 1989 in Amagansett, he began a healing service for people with H.I.V./AIDS and their families and caregivers, which he continued until his retirement. He also served as chaplain for the Long Island Association for AIDS Care.
“That’s been pervasive throughout my ministry,” he said in 2012, “this strong sense of calling by God to be involved in the world in some kind of redemptive way, through a pastoral ministry.”
At present, Mr. Stuart serves on the Cuba Work Group of the Presbytery of Long Island, and has made 12 mission visits to the Guines Presbyterian Church there. He has served with the Town of East Hampton Clericus and the town board of ethics. He is also a longtime member of the Ashawagh Hall Writers Workshop in Springs. “Similar to Fire,” a book of his poems, was published by Canio’s Editions.