A Service of Remembrance for William P. Thompson, former Co-Stated Clerk of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and Stated Clerk of the United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., will be held in the Chapel on November 28 at 11:00am. Mr. Thompson died on April 27. This service, to be led by former colleagues of Mr. Thompson, had been envisioned for a time before the General Assembly in June, but now follows the service earlier in the year for James Andrews and the Centennial remembrances of Eugene Carson Blake. Mr. Andrews was Mr. Thompson’s successor in the reunited Church; Mr. Blake his predecessor. The current Stated Clerk, Clifton Kirkpatrick, will participate in this service, as he did in the Thompson funeral back in May.
Unlike James Andrews, William Thompson never served in Louisville and was less known personally to current staff. This service is meant to gather in both former elected members of the denominational committees and former as well as current staff members. Earlier news coverage of his life lifted up his strong leadership on civil rights, ecumenical cooperation, Presbyterian unity and efforts for peace (from Vietnam to nuclear freeze). In these efforts he clearly was a servant leader, strengthening the General Assembly and both the Office of the General Assembly and the General Assembly Mission Council (of which the Clerk was secretary). In this service, some of his legal commitments to equal rights for women and human rights more generally will be traced back to his service as Assistant Prosecutor at the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, Tokyo, 1946. Similarly, his legal experience as an attorney in Wichita, Kansas, helped the Church, Presbyterian and ecumenical, in its leadership role in the corporate social responsibility movement in this country. That work continues in the inter-agency Committee on Mission Responsibility Through Investment. A third area of his particular expertise was Church/State issues, on which he worked closely with Dean Kelley of the National Council of Churches and Dean Lewis of the Advisory Council on Church & Society. That churchwide concern is wisely maintained by Clifton Kirkpatrick, partly through the legal staff with expertise in this key area.