After more than a year without a minister, St Andrew’s United Church, at the corner of Cassells and Algonquin in North Bay is delighted to welcome Caitlin Smithers from Halifax as their spiritual leader.  

The 139-year-old congregation is known in the city for its hospitable food bank, its Affirming designation (indicating a determination to include members of the 2SLGBTQ+community) and its faith-based positions on the environment and social justice. She is equally passionate about these issues, as well as being skilled in pastoral care, family ministries, and connecting with the wider community.

Caitlin  looks forward to leading worship at St Andrew’s. Its lovely old sanctuary is known in  musical circles for its excellent acoustics, and the congregation is proud of music director Ralph Johnston’s original anthems. She loves planning collaboratively with the lay worship committee that has led the congregation on Sundays for the past year. Working as a team, she says, is “a chance to learn and grow together.”

She graduated with a Master of Divinity from the Atlantic School of Theology in Halifax. She has held many positions with communities of faith over the last ten years, most recently as Children, Youth and Families Ministry staff at Bedford United in Bedford, Nova Scotia. Keen about professional development, she wholeheartedly agrees with her much-loved grandmother’s dictum that “one of the greatest joys of being alive is to learn.” Caitlin has participated in a wide variety of learning circles, including right relations with Indigenous people; health, pain and trauma; and spiritual discipleship.

Caitlin was initially drawn to North Bay by “the love and care I have heard about and felt from so many, here at St Andrew’s.” She especially admires “the advocacy, support, and care with dignity” offered by the congregation’s food bank, Loaves and Fishes. “I rarely feel closer to God than when working toward justice, equity and love for all of God’s beloved children.” 

Her new congregation is a Supervised Ministry Experience site, which allows her to fulfil the final requirements for her ordination.  “We think this remarkable woman is going to be a gift to the whole United Church of Canada, and we are so pleased and proud that we are receiving the benefit of her very impressive skills right now,” says St Andrew’s member Donna Sinclair.

 Used by many groups in the City, our gracious old building and the people of St. Andrews aspire to be welcoming, friendly, inclusive, relevant and open. St. Andrews staff and the people of St. Andrews aspire to offer open hearts, open minds and open doorsfor the membership of the Church from the eldest to the youngest and indeed for anyone who comes through our doors.

(from a media release written by Donna Sinclair)