Such a lovely room

Such a lovely room

Saturday, June 18, 2022

For Fr. Erv. Smuda

 Fr. Erv Remembrance
June 18, 2022

In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

There is a little triangle of Episcopal Churches in this part of Stark County, and Fr. Erv played them all.  St. Mark’s, St. Paul’s, and St. Timothy’s where I am rector.  Historically, parishioners have often moved around among these three parishes, based on their family’s needs, and what each church was able to  offer in that season of their lives.  Because of this, some families ended up with Fr. Smuda as their interim priest at more than one location.  Which kind of undermines the purpose of an interim, when you think about it.

As I thought about Erv’s lengthy transitional ministry, I realized he was sort of like John the Baptist.  Preparing the way, and making the paths straight.  Of course, that simile quickly breaks down because it puts a whole lot of other clergy in the role of Jesus, and we sure know that isn’t true!

But without Fr. Erv serving as interim rector at St. Timothy’s for over a year, I never would have stood a chance of succeeding as rector.  Erv provided the cooling off period.  The pressing of the pause button.  Someone willing to step in and take whatever the people want to throw at him.  It takes a special kind of person to do that.

A fair number of folks at St. Timothy’s never knew any rector other than my predecessor.  The people had no experience with how to call a priest, or how to prepare to do that, or how to celebrate what they had done in their history, or how to take an honest look at what needed to change.  

And in partnership with the Diocesan staff, Fr. Erv Smuda walked them through all that.  He brought stability and stasis and—essentially—neutral ground.  I will be forever grateful to Fr. Erv for making the paths straighter for me, for raising the valleys, and making the rough roads smoother.  And because of all that—though I am clearly not Jesus—the comparison to John the Baptist still holds up for me.  Thank you Erv, for all you have done for so many who came after you.


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