Children and Youth Ministries Coordinator:
The Rev. Dr. Julie Smith
My long and winding road to ordained ministry initially brought me to Pittsburgh in 1986 for a PhD in Social History at Carnegie Mellon. I completed my BA at Thiel College in Political Science and Economics and followed that with a Master’s in Public Administration and Urban Planning from the University of Akron. I followed my interests in reform and institutions with my History specialization in mid-19th to early 20th Century American History exploring the role of orphaned children in shaping the legal meaning of family. I completed my PhD in 1994 and immediately received a job at Dakota State University - the state designated computer campus. When I took the job in South Dakota, I moved away from my wife (at the time my partner) Colette – who said we’ll decide after I’d been there a year or two if we wanted to move.
We thought we might stay in South Dakota for a few years, but we plan and God laughs. One year turned into three which turned into seven – at the end of year one Colette uprooted her career in health care and moved with me. From South Dakota we moved to North Carolina to coordinate the secondary social studies program at UNC-Pembroke. After five years in North Carolina, we wanted to move closer to aging parents and growing families and I found a job at Mount Aloysius College in Cresson, PA. In 2007 we moved to Monroeville – I guess it is really true, you can’t take a Pittsburgher out of Pittsburgh. I have progressed through the ranks in academia and recently stepped down as department chair (but continue to teach full time and supervise student teachers) to transition into ministry. What I have not stepped away from is my commitment to and service in prisons.
I began to discern a call to ordained ministry almost as soon as when we joined the Episcopal Church in North Carolina in 2001. It began quietly – more service at church; serving on the altar, serving the supply priests; attending morning prayer; leading morning prayer; joining the Stephen’s ministry; becoming a Visiting Eucharistic Minister. And with each step, I would continue to search for more to do. When we moved to Pittsburgh, we started attending Church of the Redeemer and I was soon elected to vestry during “the split.” I had continued all of my service prior to joining the vestry and when one of our supply priests mentioned I may want to consider ordination, I initially said no, I’m a historian, I am only a historian, and I will only be a historian.
Then, we got lost in the desert, and when we were rescued, I felt the need to act on my call. I searched for a program where I could study and continue to teach. I found a wonderful program, a great group of fellow bi-vocational seminarians, and an enthusiastic faculty who understand the evolving career path of clergy in the Episcopal Church. I knew I had found where God wanted me to be. I attended The University of the South in Sewanee Tennessee for ACTS (Alternative Clergy Training at Sewanee) for two years. I interned at St. Thomas in Northern Cambria, interned and was Deacon in Charge of St. Stephen’s in Wilkinsburg, and completed my Clinical Pastoral Education at the Pittsburgh VA Hospital. I was ordained into the Sacred Order of Deacons on December 1, 2018 by the Right Reverend Dorsey McConnell and on June 15, 2019 ordained into the Sacred Order of Priests.
Colette (my partner since 1987 and wife since 2012) and I visited St. Brendan’s for a meager meal during Lent. We fell in love with the spirit of St. Brendan’s and are excited to continue our journey here.