A young pastor has moved back to Buffalo, after spending the last several years living in Philadelphia and Anaheim, CA. Jeremiah Smith is currently heading up a new ministry in North Buffalo. Smith originally hails from Cheektowaga, and is psyched to be back in Buffalo, where he is sensing the rising of the tides. Smith, a 2012 graduate of the University at Buffalo, says that he, along with his wife Katie, are ready to be a part of the upward movement that is driving change in the city. He considers himself one of the many expat millennials that has found Buffalo to be an exciting place to live, due to its rapidly changing nature. At the same time, the city is still in need of change agents who are willing to continue building upon the forward momentum.
Some people might remember Smith from his four year stint as Youth Director for Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Downtown Buffalo. During that time, he began to formulate his aspirational destiny – a destiny that now sees him back in a place that he always called “home”.
“No better time to be in Buffalo than right now,” Jeremiah said of his return. “No better time to be the church than right now.”
During a service of Holy Communion on Saturday, June 24, Jeremiah Smith will be ordained to the ministry of Word and Sacrament in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America and installed as Pastor at Parkside Lutheran Church.
As congregations all over the US continue to shrink in size, Smith feels that there is a calling for those who truly believe, to rally around their churches, while rallying around their communities. The church was once the epicenter of a strong neighborhood, where people met their neighbors, became friends, talked about issues, and ultimately worshipped. The stronger that the churches were, the stronger the neighborhoods. As churches have fallen out of favor with the general populace (for myriad reasons including aging members, aging buildings, and denominational decline), there are those who believe that these places of worship are still current in modern society. Smith is determined to draw his flock back to a place that he considers a vestige of hope.
“Hope is what Christians do,” Smith stated. “We live, love, and serve in hope. Whatever the future brings, Parkside has and will remain a community congregation, striving to serve the needs of our neighbors in North Buffalo (and elsewhere, for that matter).”
When asked about new initiatives that he is running with, Smith stated:
“All too often churches become organizations that serve only or mostly themselves and their members. Here at Parkside we want the exact opposite. We have numerous building partners – Yoga Parkside, Buffalo Cello School, one of the area’s largest AA groups, a food pantry, Meals on Wheels, and more! We are looking to strengthen these partnerships and to make new ones in order to serve the needs of our neighbors in North Buffalo. Our new initiatives are not what we want but instead, what do our neighbors need? So the first step is listening. My major focus will be getting to know the people in the community by hearing their concerns.
“The people of Parkside spent the last two years in transition. The upcoming months are about discerning what God is already up to in Buffalo and how we can join in that work. We will be doing a lot of discernment to seek our way forward. What we are sure of is that that way is outward into the community.”
The ordination service will take place at Parkside Lutheran located at 2 Wallace Avenue, at 3:00 pm on Saturday, June 24, 2017. All are welcome to attend as Parkside welcomes their new pastor back to Buffalo.