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Rev. Dr. Jerry  Smith

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 faculty.

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."

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