November in Vermont signals a palpable transition between seasons – from the crisp fall leaves to a frosted wonderland. Last year, while the Green Mountains welcomed winter’s chill, Shelburne’s Trinity Episcopal Church coped with an unexpected change in its clerical landscape.
The Reverend Craig Smith was called to serve Trinity for 15 years. Having outreached to local retirement communities, advocated for more affordable housing, and supported services for families and youth, he recalls, “I resonated with the wide diversity of members and the strong desire the [church] community has to serve and be a partner with the larger community.” In November 2013, the beloved rector retired from his position at Trinity and followed his heart to Rock Point School, a private boarding school in Burlington, where he was appointed Development Minister. “[Rock Point] is a … place where many lives have been touched in transformative ways,” he explains. “I believe God has a purpose in mind for Rock Point today. And I believe that purpose is linked to the vital need we have to learn how to mend our relationship with the earth and each other.”
The Springfield, Vt. native, who moved to Essex Jct. at age 10, graduated from the University of Vermont with degrees in history and psychology before earning a Master of Divinity from the General Theological Seminary in New York City. For 20 years, the young priest pursued continuing education in family emotional systems (a concept of Bowen Theory), and he has been studying Celtic spirituality and theology for three decades. Before coming to Trinity, the social justice activist served at Christ Church in Montpelier and the Church of the Good Shepherd in Barre.
Through the variable scenery, one thing remained the same: “I have been involved in Rock Point all of my life,” he shares. His mother was a high school math teacher at the school and his father, also an Episcopal priest, directed its Summer Conferences, which Father Craig attended. His journey through Rock Point is exhaustive, having first served on the grounds, then as camp cook, and currently as president of the school board.
Last June, Father Craig and Rock Point’s Bishop Ely discussed developing and testing a new, environmentally-conscious vision for the school. “Presently, this work involves exploring how Rock Point can be a place for the many groups who teach about and care for our environment,” Father Craig discloses. “It is also about grounding this work in the spiritual practices of the Christian tradition, exploring how an intentional community might be formed that supports Rock Point.” These eco-initiatives involve the school becoming a model for land stewardship and a place for teaching and propagating conservation methods.
As a farewell gift from Trinity, he and his wife, Candace, will spend two weeks this fall on a walking tour of the Southwest Path in Cornwall. While the outdoorsman enjoys gardening, golfing, and the working landscape of Shelburne Farms, his favorite place to be in Shelburne is inside Trinity’s sanctuary.
“I am very grateful for the time I spent living in Shelburne,” he shares, “for the relationships formed, and for the support and love given to me.”
Father Craig and Candace currently reside in Burlington and have two grown children: Laura, of Boston, and Karen, of New Orleans.