Canon Jerry hopes to build on Cathedral’s sense of community
Last year Canon Jerry Smith was planning to retire from ministry, but God had another plan.
In April of this year he, along with his wife Marjorie, relocated from Florida to Bermuda to take on the post of Canon Residentiary at The Cathedral of The Most Holy Trinity in Hamilton.
Canon Jerry, as he is already affectionately called, was raised in the Anglican Church in rural Ontario.
“I was a cradle Anglican – meaning I was raised in this tradition,” Mr Smith said. “My parents came from two very different positions, and they met in the middle, in the Anglican Church.
“Although I was raised as an Anglican, I only came to a lively faith through what I would describe as a profound conversion experience while in college. As a result of that experience and my struggle with God as to what I should do with my life, I heard the distinct instruction that I needed to stay in the Anglican tradition.”
After this experience Mr Smith made the decision to change his course of study from recreology to theology and began what would become a 40-plus-year journey in Anglican ministry.
“I was ordained over 40 years ago in Canada and spent 25 years in ministry in five different parishes across the country before moving to the US in 2001 to teach at Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry in Pittsburg.
“From there we moved down to Nashville, where we stayed for 12 years. That’s actually when I thought I was going to retire, but we got a call from a bishop in Florida who asked if I could come down for 18 months. That turned into six years.”
He and Marjorie together have ministered in seven different churches over their 49 years of marriage. Mr Smith attributes much of his success in ministry to the support of his wife.
“Margie keeps my feet to the fire and is my biggest support and also my biggest critic,” he said. “She keeps me honest. My ministry wouldn’t be possible without her. I would have easily failed.”
Mrs Smith is an award-winning journalist and former director of communication at Nippissing University. She is also about to publish her first book this fall.
Together, they are excited to begin this new chapter of their ministry here in Bermuda. Although, this is not their first experience here.
“We’ve been visiting Bermuda for 30 years,” Mr Smith said. “At one time I was one of the prophets at Willowbank and would come to teach for a couple of weeks each year. Then in 2014 we spent six weeks providing interim services at St John’s Church.
“We love Bermuda. It wasn’t in our plans to be here but we prayed through it and both decided to give it chance.”
Mr Smith takes on the role of Canon Residentiary and Sub-Dean of The Cathedral after the untimely passing of Canon Norman Lynas, who suffered an accident in August 2020 and passed away in April 2021.
He has lots of plans for The Cathedral and is eager to reignite active community-based ministry and maximise the presence of The Cathedral in the City of Hamilton.
“It’s fascinating to me that Bermuda law says that the view of the Cathedral cannot be blocked by any other building. This, for me, reflects the role of the Cathedral in the city. We are a light and can be a spiritual hub.
“It’s not necessarily about growing the membership at The Cathedral, although that would be great. The real goal through all of this is to grow the Kingdom of God. We are placed in a unique circumstance on the island where we can be evangelising for the Kingdom.”
Strategically situated in the heart of Hamilton, The Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity is a spiritual and cultural landmark and has been one for 111 years. It is the “mother church” for The Anglican Church of Bermuda and is also the seat of the Bishop of Bermuda, The Right Reverend Nicholas Dill.
The Cathedral is also known as a place of support for many in need through their feeding programme, which provides lunch to approximately 120 people daily. It is this sense of community that Mr Smith is hoping to build upon.
“We already have the City Singers, who meet on Tuesdays during lunch time to sing together,” he said. “In September we will be launching a lunchtime bible study. I would also like to introduce a critical thinking series called First Fridays, where we will focus on critical issues that we are facing so that we can equip the community to live for Christ.
“This is the vision that I have for the Cathedral. Authentic and intentional evangelism. To be a centre where the authentic gospel is shared. Evangelism that draws people to understand that God really does love and care them and will meet them where they are.”