The Reverend Gary W. Smith
"Hi, I'm Gary Smith, one of the ministers here at First Congregational Church of Branford." When introducing myself to people, this is most often what I say because I want you to know I work with a team of people. This is a wonderful community of faith where so many people work together in our many different ministries. I am blessed to be part of a staff who loves what they do and likes working for something greater than themselves.
I'm married to one of the neatest people I know - Linda Smith. Warm and caring, bright and idealistic, she has the ability to see and envision opportunities and shape them into realities while sharing her gifts with many different people in the process. For example, Linda is providing leadership for some of this congregations mission projects: Camp Totokett for youth with HIV-AIDS in their families; and an educational/mission/work experience in Ecuador. These kinds of local, national and inter-national mission projects are one of First Congregation's hallmarks. They are also one of the loves that makes Linda's heart sing.
Two other loves are our daughters, Erica and Abby. The Rev. Erica Thompson is one of the Associate Ministers at Asylum Hill Congregational Church in Hartford, Connecticut. Abby is working in Guasmo, Ecuador setting up an education program for 50 youth that this congregation is sending to school. Both of our children love the out-of-doors, as we like to canoe, camp, ski, fish and being in the wilderness as much as possible. I also love our dogs, Maggie and Remie.
I've been the Sr. Minister here at First Congregational Church for 21 years. It's a great church and I often think to myself that I'd come here to worship and be part of the mission work, even if I wasn't one of the ministers, because it's a really active, exciting, uplifting place to be. All my life I've wanted to be in a church like this, where people really care about each other and the world in which they live. There is a deep commitment to faith in Jesus Christ here, which leads people outward to serve and try to make this world a better place. I'm sure that's why I love this faith community so much, because I believe in it. I believe faith and service go hand in hand.
Linda and I have been married for 40 years and in that time we've found that relationships are one of the most important things in life. This is a good part of what a church community is about - relationships. The Bible is about struggling, loving, fighting, forgiving, arguing, but always staying together as the people of God. It's about a God, who so dearly wants a relationship with us that God comes to us in the form of Jesus, who is willing to give his life that we might believe. Sometimes I like to think that belonging to a church is a little like being in a marriage relationship. You don't have to like everybody here; you just have to love them! And, God in Jesus Christ loves us all through it as well. We call it grace. Every person and relationship needs it.
I've tried to tell you a little about myself, my family, what I believe and about this wonderful church I serve. I certainly hope you'll be interested enough to stop in and say "Hello." I know you'll receive a warm welcome. If there is anything that I or anyone else on the staff can do to assist you, please feel free to call. We are here to serve one another in His name.