The Rev. Ernest Smart


December 23, 2006|By Jacques Kelly

The Rev. Ernest Smart is back, regularly preaching in North Baltimore and leading his flock of about 200 members at a nondenominational group, the St. Andrew's Christian Community in Roland Park.

"I felt hungry to have a church family," said the 69-year-old clergyman of his decision to remain preaching.

Smart, who was born in Aberdeen, Scotland, moved to Baltimore in 1981. He retired as a Presbyterian pastor in 2002, after years at Second Presbyterian Church in Guilford; he stepped down from there in 1999 because of a heated denominational controversy.

Smart said that St. Andrew's follows the pattern of Scottish church life by focusing "on serving the wider community."

"We've got a wonderful refugee camp, a crowd of enthusiastic people from many different backgrounds," he said of his congregation, which meets at 9 a.m. Sundays in a building that houses First Christian Church at 5801 Roland Ave. (Tomorrow's service is at 11 a.m., and there is a night service at 11 p.m.)

"We don't ask any questions," he said of membership requirements. "We look upon a Sunday experience like going into a good restaurant, where you hope to find a good meal, good company and get your batteries charged for the rest of the week."

His congregation has no staff - although there are musicians from the Peabody Conservatory of Music, and once a month Ray Sprenkle leads the church choir. The congregation supports charities such as Shepherd's Clinic, the Women's Housing Coalition, Medfield Heights Elementary School and the Boy Scouts.

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