Meet the Team—Alydia Smith, Program Coordinator, Worship, Music, and Spirituality
We, the Gathering Worship editorial team, would like to introduce ourselves to the whole Gathering Worship community! Get to know a bit about who’s behind the names that appear frequently on your page and screen—the people who put it all together. Meet Alydia Smith.
What Brought Me to Worship Leadership
My first jobs were with the City of Scarborough, working as a youth programmer, where I did everything from birthday parties and summer camps to leadership training and after-school programs. I loved creating spaces where children and youth could thrive and shine. When we shine, I think it is a glimpse of the Divine within each of us.
That was when I knew I was called to pursue a vocation that helped people connect with the Divine within themselves. Although this divinity within is not limited to Christianity, I chose Christian ministry because it is the path to the Divine that I most connect with. I was clear on my call by age 17, but I was uncertain about how to pursue it. The only ministry paths that I thought were open to me as a woman were to be a nun or a preacher’s wife. (I was raised in a tradition that did not ordain women.) It wasn’t until I stumbled upon a United Church that I learned other paths were possible. I could also be a minister!
When I finally joined and became active in the United Church, I wrongly assumed that there was an age requirement to be a minister. I was fine with this as I didn’t feel like I was a good enough Christian to be a minister, yet. I did not know then that the struggle to be a better Christian is continuous; I would never “feel” ready to be a minister. So, while I gained life experience, I found other ways to live out my vocation of helping others shine: I worked as a Learning Strategist and Disabilities Counsellor to university students.
One May, after a regional church event, a minister asked me to apply for a position that she was leaving at a local church. I did not feel ready to be in congregational ministry, but she encouraged me to try, so I did. I fell in love with congregational ministry and was amazed every week by the miracle of corporate worship. One Pentecost, I remember being overwhelmed by the beauty of the people gathered. A young woman in my Sunday school class who had forced her parents to come was beaming with pride while leading worship with a father and daughter duo who were sharing a musical offering accompanied by the caretaker on drums and a person I had invited on bass who hadn’t been in the church for many years. We had no other reason to be together in such an honest way, but like the disciples, another motley crew, we worked together with what we had to praise God. It was stunning and I felt honoured to be a part of it. Ever since, I have worked on honing the craft of curating and creating worship that glorifies God and helps people shine the Divine within themselves and glorifies and reflects God through worship.
I am grateful that my call at 17 has led me to supporting and resourcing the worshipping life of the United Church. From editing the Gathering Worship resource to sharing bedtime blessings around the campfire, it all leads me closer to the Divine.
Alydia Smith, October 2023