Who is Reverend Dr. Jerry Smith?
"Although I was born and bred Anglican, I only came to authentic
faith in university," says the Rev. Dr. Jerry Smith, who came
to Trinity in the fall of 2001 to teach pastoral theology. With
Grant LeMarquand, Jerry is now one of two Canadian priests on Trinity's
He was raised with a solid understanding of traditional Anglicanism,
but without being taught about having a personal relationship with
the Lord of the Church. "Only after years of struggling with
some of the serious 'who am I questions' which hallmarked the 60s
did I come to grips with the missing component, Jesus."
In college, he met a pro hockey player who was also a devout Christian.
This man "shared the Gospel with me in a non-obtrusive, very
welcoming way, and I realized that I needed what he had." His
conversion led directly to his sense of a call to ordination. "I
realized that if I could be raised in the Church and never have
a personal encounter with Jesus Christ, then I needed to help make
sure that this didn't happen to anyone else."
After earning his M.Div. degree at Huron College, an Anglican
seminary in western Ontario, Jerry was ordained in 1976. In his
25 years of parish ministry since then, he served four parishes
in the Diocese of Algoma, and five years as the rector of the Cathedral
of St. Matthew and Dean of the Diocese of Moosonee.
Jerry's first parish included two responsibilities: spending one-third
of his time as curate at a large and thriving city parish and two-thirds
planting two churches in new settlements north of the city. In fact,
he was asked to plant a parish as soon as he got out of seminary.
"That was an awful experience," he says. "Seminary
never prepared me for it. Now I think the key is getting to know
the people. I firmly believe that if you really love your people,
you can do cart wheels down the aisle and they'll applaud. A church
plant is really just going into a community and loving the people."
In 1995, he earned a D.Min. degree from Trinity Evangelical Divinity
School in Deerfield, Illinois. In his project, titled A Year of
Grace: a study of the historical development and the theological
implications of the liturgical year, he traced the development of
the lectionary and explored innovative ways to use it as an instrument
for evangelism and discipleship. Jerry argues that the lectionary
is an often under-used gift the Church would do well to celebrate.
Though he saw his calling as primarily to be a pastor, in the
last decade Jerry served on the council of the Essentials movement,
a renewal group in the Anglican Church of Canada that brought together
Evangelical, Anglo-Catholic, and Charismatic Anglicans committed
to historic Christianity. He served as chairman for the council
for seven years, which included the historic Montreal Conference
on Anglican Essentials in the spring of 1994. It was during this
time that he got to know Peter Moore, then rector of a parish in
Toronto and another leader of the movement.
Jerry is married to Marjie, a writer and editor. They were married
immediately before entering seminary in 1973. They have three grown
children scattered around Ontario.
Jerry came to Trinity in the fall of 2001 because he wanted to
help with the mentoring of the future leaders of the Anglican Church.
"As the Pastoral Chaplain for the Diocese of Algoma, I interviewed
many graduates who knew theology but had no ability to translate
it in a way that would actually change people's everyday lives.
I believe that the gap between the Eternal and the everyday world
needs to be bridged by training leaders to use the tools of the
Gospel, the Church, and the sanctified imagination. With a sanctified
imagination," he says, "a leader is able to creatively
translate the Gospel while maintaining its integrity but on the
other hand not slipping into archaic models that do not effectively
minister to a new generation."
He teaches in what he calls "a socratic and non-directive
way." This means "that I don't want just to pour lots
of information into my students. I try to help them take ownership
of the information by teaching through question and answer and giving
them projects in which they discover the facts for themselves and
have to do something with them."
"I would like our graduates to be truly committed to the
essentials of the faith as witnessed in historic Anglicanism, but
also so well grounded that they know when to be flexible,"
he says. "I want them to learn pastoral wisdom. If we —
the pastoral theology department — are really doing our job
right, we'll be helping them bridge the gap between academic theology
and the world in which all of our parishioners live. We don't want
them to forget theology and just be 'practical'.
"Nor do we want to produce theologians who have no ability
to minister effectively in the community. When Jesus commissioned
his disciples to be 'witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and
Samaria, and to the ends of the earth,' He was (among other things)
challenging them to effectively translate the gospel into new cultures.
Trinity graduates will similarly be sent to any number of cultures
both within and without the borders of the U.S.A. They need to be
able to maintain a solid authentic biblical theology and all the
while make it meaningful so that their hearers will ultimately be
transformed by the Good News. What we want our graduates to do is
to encourage their people to hunger after truth and then as faithful
stewards, give them real spiritual food."