Bio of Rev Leland Smith
As written for my sister Linda's family tree of the Smith Family

Source: The Smith Family
b Linda Claire Cancilla (Smith)
Written history by Leland Floyd Smith

Throughout our lives we each find ourselves on a journey. Often the events of our early years, upon later reflection, help us to realize the things that give meaning and direction for the rest of our life. My life began in the summer of 1946 at what turned out to be the last days of the Old South in the Northern part of Virginia. It was an area rich in history and tradition and I am thankful for the rich memories I have. My family had been a part of that community for as long as any could remember, and they were well known and respected.I attended the same elementary school and church that my dad had grown up in, worshipped in the same wooden building and probably sometimes sat in the same pew where he and his family had worshipped. Aunts and uncles and cousins lived near by and people who lived there rarely moved away. It was in that area that all the wonderful, unforgettable characters lived that shaped my life.

From the earliest memory I recall images of my family together. My father worked two jobs and was a volunteer fireman in his spare time. I remember waiting for him to arrive home when he would stop at the end of the long driveway, honk and let us hop on the running board of our '36 Chevy and ride up to the house. I remember my mother preparing picnics in the yard and outings along the Potomac River. I remember going to town to watch the trains come in and I remember playing in our large yard. I remember attending church and starting school and I remember that day when everything changed for us. I remember telling my first grade teacher that my father had died and not quite understanding what that meant or why there was so much shock on her face. I remember how devasted my mother was and how hard she worked to make sure we had food on the table and clothes to wear. I remember how hard it was not to be included in father-son activities. I remember how my older brother, my younger sister, my mother and I worked hard to make ends meet, achieve goals and share the important things in life. I also remember and still have, a family Bible given to my mother when I was born, that she practically wore out during those tough years.

They were difficult years, but they were not sad years. For me they were the years filled with questions of youth and the adventures that only children seem to find. Long summer days, adventures with friends, following streams, carrying newspapers and playing with our large collie dog. I have images of mystery when the fog would be so thick you could not see and how different things looked when the fog began to lift. I remember the excitement of preparing for Christmas at home, cutting down a tree and decorating it on Christmas Eve, placing the gifts under the tree and shaking them to guess there contents. I also remember that no Christmas was complete without worship in our little church down the street with Christmas plays and singing in the choir. God surely blessed us in those days. But then, he seems to bless us in everyday and age even when that blessing is not always so evident. While my childhood images recall very frugal situations, they also recall how important our family was and how steady was the faith that I learned from my mother to trust in God. I recall how important the little moments in life are to me... and how thankful I am that we did have to struggle together. It taught me responsibility, independence and how to care for others.

I am also aware of what a significate role our Lord has played in my life and how important worship and prayer and trusting in God's love has always been for me and my family. By my high school years I knew God had something in mind for me. In a small church you can participate in many things and that is what I did and I loved it. Acolytes, YPF, EYE, teaching, directing the acolytes, even occasionally leading worship services when the rector had to be away. While I wasn't sure, I knew I wanted to find out more about ordained ministry and if God's hand could be leading me in that direction.

We were not a financially secure family and college tuition presented a considerable obstacle. But God does work in wonderful and mysterious way and I soon found myself with a full scholarship to George Mason College of the University of Virginia. I worked part time, studied hard and continued sharing in the life of our church, finding ways to serve my Lord and all the while satisfying a hunger that was growing stronger all the time. It was during that time that I began what was and continues to be a most meaningful work with fatherless boys, many of whom are now grown with children of there own.

Completion of college brought me before the bishop. At that time the bishop required all persons preparing for seminary to first have experience in the working world or to complete their military obligations. Of course in the '60s our country was very much at war and most businesses were reluctant to hire new college graduates since they were eligible for the draft at any moment. I decided, rather then wait for the draft, to enlist and choose a field. I became a Personnel Specialist for the Army and my very first assignment sent me to Long Binh, South Viet Nam. While fearful of what lay ahead, I knew God had always blessed me and I soon found out that even overseas He found interesting things for me to do.

I have always been a good listener and GI's away from home were always anxious for a good listening ear. I met some wonderful people, got to know some of the Vietnamese, had an opportunity to spend volunteer time at at Vietnamese orhanage and was even assigned to help the Bob Hope Christmas Show during its tour in Viet Nam.

When my year ended I returned to the US and was assigned to the Pentagon. Since this was close to my home, I was again able to return to my home parish and to continue an active lay ministry in many areas, especially with children and youth. I was elected to the vestry, served as Junior Warden and continued to learn about ways to serve the Lord through the life of a parish.

A few years later, my military obligation completed, I felt the shining grace of God with the acceptance into Virginia Seminary as a postulant for the Diocese of Virginia. What a wonderful experience were the seminary years - I would not take anything for the experience. I did, indeed learn that God has a plan for me. After seminary I became Assistant to the Rector at Holy Trinity Church in Fayetville, North Carolina. After only six months, however, the rector accepted a call to another church. I was literally ordained priest and two weeks later became interum rector for the next several months. Though only there one year, the first parish always seem like home base in North Carolina.

In July of 1977 I accepted a call as Associate Rector at St. Mary's Church in Kinston, North Carolina. There I would learn much about shared ministry from a very gifted rector. He and I had gifts in ministry that complimented each other well, though after three years, this rector was also called away. Once again I served as interum, this time in a congregation of over 1000 people. It was during this time at St. Mary's that I met the person who would later become my bride

One year after arriving in Henderson, North Carolina as rector of the Church of the Holy Innocents, Jan and I were married. From that point my journey became our journey. In November of 1983 came an experience that remains to this day one of the most miraculous spiritual times of my life - the birth of our son Michael. Exactly five months later he was baptized in a joyous Easter vigil celebration. Only a few days after our son's birthday, in 1985, my mother died. She had been born on Memorial Day, it somehow seemed fitting that her death would come on Thanksgiving.

Five years later, in 1990, Jan's parents moved from Ontario to nearby Durham, North Carolina. After only two years, on Holy Saturday in 1992, Jan's mother died following a log struggle with Alzheimer's Disease. Jan, her father and even Michael had cared faithfully and lovingly for her throughout her illness. Perhaps it was that sense of caring for his grandmothert along with his regular visits to nursing homes in Henderson with me that would lead in 1993 to an occasion of great honor for Michael. That was the year Michael was recognized by our county and by the Governor of North Carolina as Vance County's Volunteer of the Year. We were most proud parents and there was a very proud grandfather as well. For the next several years we continued to enjoy Jan's father until his death in October of 1997. Only a few days before his death, he was pleased to learn that we would be accepting a call to a new ministry in Southwestern Virginia.

That move came in December of 1997 marking the start of the current chapter in our family's journey... a journey back to the state of my birth. We now live in the beautiful little town of Wytheville, Virginia and serve a lovely church called St. John's. Jan shares her remarkable talent as organist and choir master, and I serve as rector. Our son, Michael, is now preparing to begin a new phase of his own journey. Over the years he has excelled in so many areas. He is an excellent writer, a fine student, loves to draw and participates actively in music and athletics. I look with interest to see where his future will lead him.

For all of us this continues to be an exciting time in our lives. In looking back the hand of God is very evident. As I look ahead, each new day brings new adventures and opportunities. We are, after all, on a very exciting journey and our Lord continues to bless us in so many ways.

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