ALUMNI PROFILE / Master of Divinity
“It has been a joy to teach people some of the basic building blocks of the Christian faith, and to be partnered with and serving families who are committed to seeing a new reformed church established."
This edition’s alumni profile features a bit of a rarity – husband and wife, completing seminary and serving together – what a blessing! Rev. Caleb Smith and his wife Erika concluded their studies at Mid-America back in 2013, with Caleb enrolled in the Master of Divinity degree and Erika enrolled in the Master of Theological Studies degree.
They were drawn to Mid-America for a number of reasons. They were appreciative of the opportunity to spend time with professors and ask some in-depth questions. If you have been around Mid-America for any length of time, you would know that the professors are accessible – both in the classroom, but also out of the classroom. The Smiths used these opportunities to get to know the professors – personally, but also capitalizing on the time available to engage in theological discussions and have their questions answered. Their pastor in San Antonio, TX, Rev. Nathan Hornfeld (’01), was influential in the Smiths’ decision to study at Mid-America. Being edified by Rev. Hornfeld’s preaching and encouraged by him to visit MidAmerica, the Smiths decided it was time to try Midwest living. Few students cite a geographic draw to Northwest Indiana as being part of the equation to attend seminary, but for the Smiths, it was all part of a new adventure.
Caleb remarks, “The emphasis on preaching and pastoral care, particularly through the Ministerial Apprenticeship Program, gave me invaluable opportunities for preaching and teaching. It was a way for me to learn the ropes of pastoral ministry. The Master of Divinity degree gave me a solid foundation that has equipped me for further research and study, as well as fruitful gospel ministry in the local church.” The Smiths’ advice for those considering attending seminary: “Pursue a theological education so that you can love the Lord with your mind, but also to use your heart and hands to be a useful servant in Christ’s church.”
Service in Christ’s church began shortly after graduation with an internship at Bethel Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Wheaton, IL with Rev. Craig Troxel and Rev. John Fikkert overseeing Caleb’s work. This led to a move to southern California to work on a Th.M. in Historical Theology at Fuller Seminary, joining fellow alumnus, Rev. Tim Scheuers. T his stage in life was not without its challenges as Caleb lost his father to a long battle with Lewy Bodies Dementia. That, paired with a few other life changes, has left his work at Fuller unfinished, but work in the ministry continued. The Smiths (becoming quite familiar with moving) then followed the Lord’s call to Calvary OPC in Glenside, PA, where Caleb served as an Associate Pastor with Rev. Mark Sallade. The Lord blessed the Smiths with two children during this time, Joel and Oliver.
Currently, the Smiths are back in southern California in Erika’s hometown of Thousand Oaks. There, they are planting a new OPC congregation – Thousand Oaks Presbyterian. Each Sunday, around 35 people gather to hear the Word preached and to promote the glory of God and the joy of humanity. Since moving, the Smiths have welcomed baby Ezra.
A growing family, a new church plant – there are challenges here, and the Smiths would be encouraged if they could be remembered in prayer. Caleb comments, “It has been a joy to teach people some of the basic building blocks of the Christian faith, and to be partnered with and serving families who are committed to seeing a new reformed church established. As a church plant, we need local leaders. As the planting pastor, it is also a constant challenge to keep a good balance between work and family life.”
May God bless Caleb, Erika, and their growing family as they seek to bring God glory and encourage His people in Thousand Oaks, California.