From St. John’s to St. John’s: Smiths heading east

Tom Van Dusen
Nation Valley News

PRESCOTT — A local Anglican clergyman has been recruited to help launch a theological college in St. John’s, Newfoundland. The new “gig”, as Rev. David Smith calls the posting, will launch next spring.

Meanwhile, the school and Anglican church complex made possible by a benefactor, is being readied for occupation. It represents the first time Smith, who holds a doctorate in theology, will teach full time, a definite thrill for him.

While it’s a dramatic shift for Smith, the move is total upheaval for his wife, Rev. Tracey Smith, pastor at historic St. John’s Anglican Church here for more than a decade. David earned part-time pay as her assistant.

A Shakespearean scholar, one of David’s claims to fame has been to annually host a special church service and reception in the Bard’s honour on behalf of the local St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival.

Tracey is matter-of-fact about the role reversal which will make her the sidekick in the partnership: “It’s David’s turn to shine, she stated, adding she’ll volunteer were needed in her husband’s new job.

She says COVID-19 had a lot to do with the decision to leave the town by the St. Lawrence Seaway they’ve come to love…so much so that they’re planning to return in five years. They’re renting out rather than selling their Prescott home and will rent an apartment in St. John’s.

There was lots of time for reflection during the pandemic lull when weekly services switched to Zoom. When the offer came to David from an old friend helping to establish the school of theology, Tracey figured it was as good a time as any to change things up.

In addition to St. John’s Anglican, Tracey’s pastoral charge has included linked churches in Cardinal and Maitland, St. Paul’s and St. James’ respectively, with a total congregation of about 110. She’s also in charge of the tiny, perfect historic Blue Church west of town which, pre-C19, held occasional services and ceremonies.

Tracey’s last services and sermons in her Prescott parish will be in June, disappointingly on Zoom rather than live because of lingering C-19 protocols.

However, as her aging parishioners have noted, increasing their level of tech savvy during the pandemic and allowing them to continue regular worship is among lasting gifts from the Smiths for which they’re grateful.

Until the move is finalized, Tracey will assist Anglican Bishop Michael Oulton out of Kingston. Her parishioners will get a temporary replacement while searching for a permanent new minister and, in the process, will have a chance to rebuild the church coffres depleted during the pandemic.

Daughter CJ, 21, will be moving with her parents while Katie, 19 will continue studies at Queen’s University, Kingston. Pre-pandemic, both were very active in the Shakespeare Festival as was Tracey who has the smell of greasepaint in her.

In her younger days, she spent 12 years in a touring troop of actors and took an enthusiastic part in the local pre-COVID entertainment scene such as occasional karaoke at Prescott Legion, and pool at Boomer’s Sports Bar, part of her church’s weekly Burgers, Beer and Billiards social which occasionally veered into spiritual consultation if certain questions arose.

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