Caleb Smith recently started as the new pastor at Gardiner Community Church after seven years at an Illinois church. Smith said he and his wife were seeking a change of scenery and they fell in love with the people and Gardiner community. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

Caleb Smith recently started as the new pastor at Gardiner Community Church after seven years at an Illinois church. Smith said he and his wife were seeking a change of scenery and they fell in love with the people and Gardiner community. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

New Zealander to lead Gardiner church

For Caleb Smith and his family, taking the position as pastor at Gardiner Community Church was a calling he felt he needed to take.

The New Zealand native, moved to Diamond Point late last month after spending about seven years as lead pastor at Christ Community Church in Wheaton, Illinois.

“We just loved this semi-rural community that just loves each other and knows each other,” Smith said of Gardiner.

Smith said he’s “always been a small town kid at heart” since he was raised in Ahaura, a town of about 300 people at the time on the west coast of New Zealand.

He grew up in a Christian home and became more serious about his faith as a teenager, he said.

After finishing college in New Zealand, Smith worked for Volunteer Services Abroad in South Africa helping mostly with poverty alleviation for nearly eight years. There, he met his wife Janine, who earned a doctorate in chiropractic, and eventually Smith felt a calling to go into pastoral ministry, which took the couple to the U.S. so he could seek a Masters of Divinity.

Smith earned his Masters from Northern Seminary now in Lisle, Illinois, and he’s set to finish up his doctorate in ministry in a few months from Tyndale Seminary in Toronto.

Back in Illinois, Smith said his former church was smaller like Gardiner and it had a focus on students and helping refugees with programs such as English as a second language.

But after about 10 years in Illinois, Smith said he and Janine were looking for a change in lifestyle for them and their 3-year-old daughter Abbey.

They were looking to move to either the West or East Coast but after discovering Gardiner Community Church’s opening online, they fell in love with the area and the people, he said.

Gardiner Community Church is a non-denominational Christian church along U.S. Highway 101 between Sequim and Diamond Point.

“Gardiner’s membership is very diverse. We’ve got Quakers, Pentecostals, Methodists, Lutherans, Baptists and more who come here,” Smith said.

“It’s a real community church that functions for the community. There’s something very appealing I find about that.”

Early on, he’s discovered church members’ sense of community. He said a wind storm knocked some trees down in a neighbors’ property so a few church members went out there to help.

“It’s not just talking about your faith but I’ve experienced a number of people living out their faith,” he said.

As they begin to integrate into the area, Smith they’re still determining how he and his family can bless the Gardiner community.

“We have to get know the community folk before we can answer that,” he said.

“We want to know how can our church serve the community and how can we bless our community.”

One of his goals is to share curriculum he’s developed for people with anxiety.

More of his goals include writing books and leading spiritual retreats.

In his spare time, Smith said he enjoys spending time with his family, hiking, reading, traveling and music.

As for the area, Smith said the Sequim area reminds him of New Zealand with its mix of mountains, forests and coastline.

“It’s almost like coming home,” he said. “I appreciate an environment where I can just go hiking so my daughter is not behind a screen.”

Smith was once a worship leader in Illinois and plays piano.

Janine plans to setup a part-time chiropractor office in the near future too in Diamond Point.

Gardiner Community Church, 1040 Old Gardiner Road, hosts Sunday services at 10:30 a.m. with a fellowship hour beginning at 9:30 a.m. prior.

Church members host a Bible study at 10 a.m. Wednesdays at the church and Smith is open to more study and focus groups on particular topics like anxiety in the future.

For more information on Gardiner Community Church, call 360- 797-0044 or visit www.gardinercommunitychurch.org.

Caleb Smith recently started as the new pastor at Gardiner Community Church after seven years at an Illinois church. Smith said he and his wife were seeking a change of scenery and they fell in love with the people and Gardiner community. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

Caleb Smith recently started as the new pastor at Gardiner Community Church after seven years at an Illinois church. Smith said he and his wife were seeking a change of scenery and they fell in love with the people and Gardiner community. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

Shortly after moving here, Caleb Smith, new pastor at Gardiner Community Church, said they plan to meet more of the community so that they can know the best way to bless them. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

Shortly after moving here, Caleb Smith, new pastor at Gardiner Community Church, said they plan to meet more of the community so that they can know the best way to bless them. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

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