Stewart Smith

General Presbyter
Office – (501) 663-2424
Cell – (479) 466-0195

Stewart Smith is a lifelong Presbyterian who was born as a preacher’s kid in Charlotte, NC.  He moved to Arkansas while in the first grade and grew up in the Graham Memorial Presbyterian Church in Forrest City.  He served on one of the earliest versions of the Presbytery of Arkansas Youth Council while in High School.  He graduated from Trinity University in San Antonio, TX with a degree in Accounting and became a member of First Presbyterian Church in San Antonio where he was elected a deacon.

After several years of work with Diamond Shamrock Refining and Marketing Company he experienced a call to the ministry and attended Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary.  While there he did a year-long internship at the St. Andrew Presbyterian Church in Lynchburg, VA and served for a year as a student co-pastor at the Youngblood Memorial Presbyterian Church in Robinson, TX. After graduation from seminary Stewart served as Associate Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Fort Smith, AR for seven years.  In 2001 he accepted a call to become pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Springdale and served there until accepting the call to become General Presbyter in October of 2015.   In the Presbytery of Arkansas he has served on the Camps and Conferences Committee, the Christian Education Committee, the Committee on Preparation for Ministry and the Committee on Ministry.  He served as Moderator of the Presbytery in 2007 and moderated the General Council in 2008.

Stewart is married to Laura, an elementary school teacher in Maumelle and they have two sons, Ryan and Alex.  In his spare time, Stewart enjoys biking, jogging, golf, skiing and watching sports year round.



Blake Brinegar

Stated Clerk
Cell – (870) 321-9102

Blake became the Stated Clerk effective October 1, 2022. He has been serving churches in Arkansas for the last 6 years. Before that he served a congregation in Pennsylvania. He served churches in Texas before that. Originally from Oregon, he made his way to the South for Seminary, but has not made his way back to Oregon for any length of time. He married a Native Arkansan, so he doesn’t imagine relocating to the Northwest is going to happen anytime soon. He is married to the Rev. Elizabeth Brinegar who serves in the Presbytery and also as the Director of Operations for Solar Under the Sun, a mission of the Synod.
In his spare time, he likes to fish, hunt, hike, camp, bike, basically anything outdoors. He also enjoys spending time with his dog Maisie and his cat Snape. He is excited to serve as your Stated Clerk and looks forward to working with the congregations of this presbytery. If you have any questions, feel free to contact him.



Sarah Leer

Transitional Youth & Young Adult Developer

Dr. Sarah Leer (she/her) is a native Arkansan who has served non-profits for over a decade including Presbyterian Church (USA) churches in Austin, Dallas, and Northwest Arkansas. Sarah is a graduate of Wake Forest University, Columbia Theological Seminary, and the Clinton School of Public Service. She is a practical theologian who is living into her call to deconstruct systems and disrupt the status quo in order to seek liberation, justice, and belonging in solidarity with those living on the margins. A lifelong Presbyterian, Sarah has served as a Young Adult Volunteer in New Orleans, as the Moderator of the Young Adult Volunteer Alumni Council, as the Adult Co-Moderator for the Youth Advisory Team and on CPM for the Presbytery of Arkansas, and on the board of the Presbyterian Youth Workers’ Association. Sarah enjoys singing Broadway songs in her car, random road trips and adventures, geeking out over pop culture, traveling the world with friends, hanging out with her family, board games, watching SEC college football, and attending youth conferences that include energizers.



Kim Palmer

Office – (501) 663-2424

Kimberly recently repatriated to Arkansas after living in Texas for over ten years where she owned and operated two community newspapers with her late husband. She has over 30 years of experience in accounts receivable, accounts payable, payroll, tax filing, and financial statements including account reconciliations. She also has five years of experience working with a non-profit agency and managing financial statements with federal and state billing and yearly audits. She also periodically has bookkeeping clients that she prepares financial statements to help clients with their income tax preparation. She has completed course work at the University of Central Arkansas in pursuit of a degree.

In her spare time, she spends time with her daughter who is a college student in Texas, enjoys reading, genealogy, exploring the outdoors and mother to two cats, Bell and Dot.



Julie Price

Presbytery Connector
Cell – (501) 626-6477

Julie was born and raised in Pine Bluff and is a life-long Presbyterian. Her first job in the church was as summer youth director at First Presbyterian, Pine Bluff. The following year, she married her high school sweetheart, Jeff Price and they attended Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, GA where they both received their Master of Arts in Youth Ministry. They were called to First Presbyterian Church in Vicksburg, Mississippi and then returned to First Presbyterian Church in Pine Bluff where they worked in ministry with children, youth and their families. During those years, Jeff was ordained to word and sacrament. In 2002, he was called to Trinity Presbyterian Church in Little Rock where Julie now serves as the Christian Educator and as a ruling elder. For the last 10 years she has served on the Presbytery’s Resource Center board. Julie and Jeff have two children, Tanner and Becca, a son-in-law, Max, and a poodle, Romeo. Julie loves to read, garden, swim, play the guitar and sing.



Emmett Powers

Moderator of Presbytery

Cell – 501-424-8763

Emmett Powers serves the Presbyterian Kirk of the Hills in Fairfield Bay, AR.  He graduated from West Memphis High School.  He received a BA in Religion and Philosophy from Ouachita Baptist University, Arkadelphia, AR, an MDiv from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY with an emphasis in Pastoral Ministry, an MA in Heritage Studies from Arkansas State University, and a DMin, from Golden Gate Theological Seminary in San Francisco, CA, where he was presented the Outstanding Doctoral Student Award for his research on evangelism in urban contexts.

He has provided leadership to new church developments which were language-culture congregations, served as a senior pastor, been an urban church consultant, led mission groups, and developed a food pantry that connects to a food bank in Arkansas. He has also taught Spanish language in a community college and in a classroom setting for high school students.  For several years he read in a study cohort endorsed by the John Leith Foundation, reading at Princeton, McCormick, and Austin seminaries.  Emmett has had a meaningful ministry in his role as MWS, first and last here in the Presbytery of Arkansas, but also in Eastern Oklahoma Presbytery, John Calvin Presbytery (MO), and New Covenant Presbytery (TX). He served Arkansas presbytery’s various committees and commissions, served as solo pastor, stated supply, interim pastor, transitional pastor, and guided the development of a disaster response team for the presbytery.

He is married to Virginia K. Morris Powers, portrait artist and historical interpreter, celebrating fifty years together in 2022.  His pursuits are observing trains and night skies, researching old roads like the Southwest Trail for the ARDOT, writing historical research, and spending time with his two children and six grandchildren.  He is a lifetime SL Cards fan.  He honorably retired in 2019 while serving in Beaumont, TX.



Judi McMillan

Vice-Moderator of Presbytery

Judi McMillan is a MWS and serves as the pastor of the Presbyterian Church of Bella Vista. She was ordained in the Presbytery of Arkansas as the Campus Minister at United Campus Ministry in Fayetteville in 1998. She has since served congregations in Nebraska and Michigan. Her longest pastorate was in Troy, Michigan. Her ministry has also included four interim or transitional ministries in the Presbytery of Detroit.

Judi has a Bachelor’s in Fine Arts from James Madison University (Go Dukes!), an M.Div. from Louisville Presbyterian Seminary, and a Doctor of Ministry degree from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary in Missional Leadership. Her children, McKayla and Caleb, live with their partners in Michigan. McKayla and Jordan married in 2023 and live in Grand Rapids. Caleb and Emme have made their home in Kalamazoo. Judi’s parents, Tom and Linda, live in Bryant, Arkansas. If you’ve been in this Presbytery a while, you may know Linda from her time serving the Presbytery of Arkansas and Westminster Presbyterian Church in Hot Springs.

Bella Vista is a wonderful church to serve, the congregation enjoys creative worship, deepening relationships in service to God, and learning through bible studies and current authors and theologians. Transplants from all over come to Bella Vista to retire, but also to fully live out new callings to serve. If you want to have a fun conversation, ask her about Holy Humor Sunday!

Judi also enjoys live music, art, painting, woodworking and last but not least, flying on her road bike. We have amazing roads and trails in lovely Arkansas. She looks forward to serving the Presbytery of Arkansas and getting to know you better.


Mike Szabo

Moderator of Co-ordinating Council

Mike Grew up in South Bend, Indiana. He attended parochial grade school staffed by the Holy Cross Nuns (where Catechism class was a daily occurrence for 8 years!). He graduated from Indiana University with a BS in Business Administration and minors in marketing, English literature, and voice.

Mike spent 44 years in the food industry where he eventually became a vice president of sales and marketing and worked with the major food service distributors and manufacturers throughout the United States. Food was his career and a hobby, and he continues to enjoy both cooking and matching wines with the meal.

His early career was spent in the Midwest, but after extensive business travel in the south, he moved to this region 40 years ago and has spent the last 35 years in Searcy where he and his family joined the First Presbyterian church 27 years ago. After retiring 8 years ago, Mike and his wife decided that after living in 14 different locations, Arkansas was the best! He has served as a deacon, elder, liturgist, choir member and leader of two PNC’s and is the founder and facilitator of the FPC Searcy wine club which is now in its 20th year. Mike was a member of the Presbytery Listening Committee that drafted the Ministry Manual (now revised), and currently serves on an Administrative Commission.

Mike is married to Marcia, and they will celebrate 53 years of marriage in 2023. They have 2 children and 3 grandchildren.  Son Joe (married to Tamara) of Rolla Missouri, and daughter Tracey of Creswell, Oregon, married to Damon who is a family physician and Colonel in the Oregon National Guard.

Mike and Marcia enjoy singing together at church and with The Edensong Regional Chorale (they met in high school choir) and traveling on “soft adventures” with National Geographic. They have kayaked in Alaska, the Sea of Cortez, the coastal waters of Maine and South Carolina and enjoy hiking wherever they go. Besides food and wine, Mike fishes, rides a semi recumbent bike, and is an avid reader.



Tom Verdery


Tom was the Moderator of the Committee on Administration for 2020 & 2021 and has been a member for many years on this committee (and a previous moderator) within the Presbytery. He is an Elder and current Treasurer at First United Presbyterian Church, Fayetteville where he has been a member since 1989. Tom was born in Fort Worth, Texas, yet was raised both in Texas and New York where his father’s career moved him.

Tom has over 34 years of experience working with Procter & Gamble, of which his last 14 years were spent working exclusively outside the US. After retirement from P&G, he was Executive in Residence at the Soderquist Center for Leadership & Ethics and Professor in Business at John Brown University specializing in Leadership & International Studies until his retirement in July 2018. Since then, Tom does part-time Executive Coaching and adjunct teaching at JBU’s Graduate School in Marketing Strategy.

Tom holds an MBA from The University of Dallas and a BBA from Texas Tech University. Tom enjoys spending his free time traveling with his wife of 43 years, Barbara along with fishing both locally and across the US. They have two sons, Christopher, and Scott, who is married to Allie with their grandchild Zelda.