Atlantic Northeast District executive minister Craig H. Smith has announced his retirement, as of the end of this year. He has served in the position for 19 years.
Smith will conclude full duties as district executive on Dec. 31. In the following three months he will serve a semi-sabbatical ending on March 31, 2017. During the semi-sabbatical, he will continue to consult with district staff, be available for transition coaching, and work with a transition team to assist the district with a smooth transition of leadership.
Atlantic Northeast District may be considered the oldest of the Church of the Brethren’s 24 districts, having within its borders the first congregation of Brethren in the Americas–Germantown (Pa.) Church of the Brethren. During most of Smith’s years in Atlantic Northeast, it also was the largest of the denomination’s districts in terms of membership, only recently taking second place to Shenandoah District. It covers considerable territory geographically, including the eastern half of the state of Pennsylvania, with some congregations also in the states of New Jersey, Massachusetts, Delaware, New York, and Maine.
The district staff has grown significantly under Smith’s leadership. In 2003, the district started a new staffing model to call out and employ gift-based and passion-driven Ministry Directors. The district staff now number eight people, including Smith.
An emphasis on new church planting and the welcoming of ethnically diverse congregations into the district has marked Smith’s tenure. He has encouraged support for international mission efforts of the denomination, in cooperation with the variety of mission-minded Brethren groups present in Atlantic Northeast. He also has been a leader in the Council of District Executives.