The Rev. Dan Smith served as the Pastor of West Hollywood United Church of Christ from October 1, 1984-Februay 29, 2020. For 99 years West Hollywood United Church of Christ was a member of the Presbyterian Church (USA), but due to the Presbyterian Church’s strong anti-gay positions, the congregation voted unanimously in 2012 to leave the Presbyterian Church and join the United Church of Christ. At the same time, Dan left the Presbyterian Church and joined the United Church of Christ.
Dan was called to serve this congregation in a very “unique context of ministry.” West Hollywood Church, which was founded November 2, 1913, is a church that has always been at the forefront of culture change. As early as 1964, five years before “Stonewall” which is often viewed as the beginning of the Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Transgender civil rights movement, West Hollywood Church began hosting a gay men’s “rap group” and separate mid-afternoon worship service for the gay community. Through the work of the Lazarus Project, a ministry of empowerment and advocacy for the full inclusion of LGBT Christians, West Hollywood Church grew stronger and larger. By 1984 the Church was ready to call a full time Pastor and their preference was for a gay pastor. The Rev. Dan Smith was called and became the first openly gay pastor serving what was, at that time, a predominantly gay and lesbian congregation in the Presbyterian Church.
Dan is a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton, NJ and served for 6 years at the First Presbyterian Church of Geneva, New York before coming to Los Angeles. He served on the Presbyterian Church’s “Special committee to Study Human Sexuality” and was one of the major contributors to the committee’s report, “Keeping Body and Soul Together: Sexuality, Spirituality and Social Justice (1991).”
He is a cofounder of the Los Angeles GLBT Interfaith Clergy Association and was one of the first religious leaders in Los Angeles to provide spiritual care and support to persons with HIV/AIDS. Dan continues to be a leader in the progressive Christian movement.
(This biographical statement provided by Dan Smith.)
Biography Date: May 2020
Clergy Activist | Presbyterian Church (USA) | United Church of Christ/Congregational Church