The Rev. H. Mark Smith has announced that he will be retiring as missioner for youth and young adult ministries for the diocese, effective Jan. 30, 2022.
Smith served the diocesan Office of Youth Ministries as deacon for five years before joining the diocesan staff in 2014 as director of youth ministries. During his tenure, the scope of the office has expanded to include young adult ministries as well.
While the different age cohorts each have unique pastoral needs, Smith has noted, the driving mission of his service to both has been raising up prophetic, social-justice-focused young leaders for the church and world. Groups he has shepherded over the years include the Diocesan Youth Council, the former Youth Leadership Academy and its successor "Las Fronteras" U.S.-Mexico borderlands pilgrimage program, and the Young Adult Task Force that led to the creation of a Young Adult Advisory Committee for ongoing ministry by and with Episcopalians in their 20s and 30s.
Smith has been a staff appointee on the board of the Barbara C. Harris Camp and Conference Center in Greenfield, N.H., for nine years, as well as a consistent leadership presence during its annual summer camp programs. He also serves on The Episcopal Church's Youth Ministry Council of Advice.
The bishops offer their gratitude for Smith's ministry as he prepares to retire from the staff.
"We are so grateful for the ways that H. Mark has brought to this ministry his warmth and relational gifts, his creativity and his diaconal passion for justice," Bishop Alan M. Gates said.
Bishop Gayle E. Harris, who oversees the diocesan youth and young adult ministries staff, added: "This diocese has been served so very well by the presence and ministry of the Rev. H. Mark Smith. He ably listens to the voices of youth, young adults and those on the margin, and articulately advocates for the inclusion of all in the life of the church. Mark leads by supporting and empowering others in response to the Gospel of Jesus, and our baptismal vows. We have been blessed, encouraged and strengthened by his leadership as missioner, his wisdom and his loving humor. While he may be retiring from the diocesan staff, we will continue to be blessed by his dedication in the future. We give thanks to God for Mark, a deacon, colleague, mentor, leader, servant and brother in Christ."
Smith will continue as a member of the diocesan Racial Justice Commission's Subcommittee on Reparations, and, as a Diocese of Massachusetts deputy to the 2022 Episcopal Church General Convention, he has been appointed to its legislative committee on racial justice and reconciliation.
"I have been deeply blessed by the trust that God and our bishops and the people of this diocese have put in me," Smith said. "Now, though, I happily pass the blessings to someone new and look forward to living out my calling in other ways. I am retiring from the bishops' staff, not from active ministry, and look forward to many more years of diaconal service to our bishops and the communities of eastern Massachusetts, whose love fills me with hope."