Ann Robb Smith, 93, an Episcopal priest who lived her faith serving some of Philadelphia’s most needy residents, died Sunday June 6 at her home in Northeast Harbor, Maine, of a complication of Alzheimer’s disease.
“She had the courage to follow her beliefs regardless of what society thought,” said daughter Laurie Parker. “It was more important for her to live a life of integrity, a life of calling.”
His actions were guided by his interpretation of the Christian teaching of “Love your neighbor as yourself”.
“She broadened her view of who her neighbor was,” said Gay Smith, another girl.
Born into a privileged Main Line family, Reverend Smith was one of three children of Henry Jr. and Gertrude Robb. Growing up in Gladwyne, she excelled as a student at Shipley School and received a BA in English from the University of Pennsylvania.
She then married her childhood sweetheart, Dr Kaighn Smith, and they had three children.
In the 1960s, Reverend Smith, inspired by progressive educators as a youth, became increasingly drawn to the growing civil rights movement and the struggle for equality and justice for black Americans. The movement for women’s rights has also become an important goal for her. She began to volunteer her time and participate in demonstrations.
As an Episcopalian, she became active in her local church’s efforts to support the causes of equality and equity for women and people of color. This included volunteering with women in the Episcopal Church and in Episcopal community services.
But over time, she became dissatisfied with the response of her church and some members of the congregation to the problems.
“They didn’t embrace the causes of these social movements in a way that my mom wanted to embrace them,” Parker said.
At one point, Reverend Paul Washington, an activist Episcopal priest affiliated with the historic North Philadelphia Advocate Church, came to speak in his church.
Moved by Washington’s activism and leadership, Reverend Smith eventually changed her affiliation with the Advocate Church, despite a significant setback from her family and many in her social circle.
Reverend Smith regarded Washington as his mentor. The former clergyman became an advocate for the ordination of women to the episcopal priesthood. In 1974 he opened his church for the first ordination of women in the Episcopal Church. Reverend Smith participated as a lay representative in this ordination.
With Washington’s support, she enrolled in the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia and was ordained a priest on June 15, 1991. By that time she had won the support of many who opposed her move. from his home church, and several attended his ordination.
For the next 10 years, she served as associate pastor at the Church of the Advocate with Rector Isaac Miller, and Dean of the Wissahickon deanery from 1996 to 1999.
While at the Advocate’s Church, she attended church service, but also provided leadership and support for services such as church cooking, after-school programs, and building the Paul and Christine. Washington Family and Community Center.
Reverend Smith retired as a priest in 2001, but she remained in the lawyer’s sacristy until 2009. She and her husband moved to Mount Desert Island, Maine, in 2012.
Along with her husband and daughters, the Reverend Smith is survived by her son, Kaighn Smith Jr .; four grandchildren; eight great-grandchildren; a brother; and other relatives. His parents and another brother died earlier.
A service in his honor was held on June 12.
Donations in his memory can be made to Friends of Acadia, 43 Cottage St., PO Box 45, Bar Harbor, Me. 04609.