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Announcing our Next Rector

The Vestry is delighted to announce that the Rev. Channing Smith, who currently serves as the rector of Saint Andrew's Episcopal Church and School in Saratoga, California, has accepted our call to serve as Good Shepherd's next rector. Today we celebrate the end of a 19-month process of prayerful discernment and the beginning of an exciting new chapter in our life together. Please keep Channing and his family in your prayers as they prepare to join us in Austin. Thanks be to God!

Letter from Our Next Rector

Hello Good Shepherd!

I am honored and overjoyed to be writing you today as your new rector. It is a moment that I have looked forward to for some time. Soon, I will be on campus and able to meet each of you either virtually or in person as our life together begins. During the search process, Bobby Chesney, Lisa McMinn and the rest of the search committee shared the faith, spirit and drive of Good Shepherd so well that in many ways I feel as if I already know much about you.

We are in a unique moment filled with challenging circumstances. Just a few months ago, prior to COVID 19, we were struggling to find depth of connection in a fast-paced life. As the poet David Whyte says, “we thought velocity was the answer to life’s complexity.” Loneliness was on the rise across our nation. We craved deep human connection with ourselves and with others. Now, families are juggling work, home schooling, family and a personal life within the same four walls. We are connected, but struggle for balance and have concerns for our personal safety. All of this is part of our current cultural context. Yet here we are, called by God to be the church, guided by a particular vision that “all people will find joyful union with God and with one another, being fully known and fully loved.” I firmly believe that God has remarkable plans for us. It is a future that is ripe with possibility despite the current challenges we are experiencing.  Good Shepherd shines into this moment with the gifts of strong leadership, authentic community, and the spiritual practices of our Episcopal tradition.

As a brief introduction, I am married to Mary Richards Smith, a licensed psychotherapist. Mary and I have been married for 29 years. Together, we have a 6-year-old daughter Olivia. As soon as we arrive, Olivia will be joining the first-grade class at Trinity Episcopal School. I began my ordained ministry in 1992, a year after I was married. I have been fortunate to have served three congregations; two of them as rector.  When I have some free time, I enjoy mountain biking, running, and finding great coffee shops.

I want to thank Milo Burdette, Ben Hanson, Katie Romano, and the Rev. Stanford Adams for their warm welcome to me and my family and their helpful conversations along this process.

With great expectation, I look forward to being with you, to our caring for one another, growing in our understanding of our place in God’s unfolding story together, and daring to do courageous acts of love in Christ’s name.

God’s peace,

Letter from Our Officers and Search Chairs

Dear Friends,

We’re so happy to share the news that Channing has accepted Good Shepherd’s call to be our next rector! We believe that the Holy Spirit has guided the search for Channing. The search committee felt its presence during the first video interview, making the decision to visit him in person in California an easy one. Those travelling returned from that visit bursting with enthusiasm, and that fire spread to the rest of the committee when Channing later came to Austin for a weekend of interviews and a private service. His spirituality runs deep, and it pulls you in warmly. In the end, the committee heard the call with clarity.

The search committee and vestry were struck by the powerful depth of Channing’s relationship with God. His faith is obvious and authentic. He describes his call to ministry as a teenager not as a “gentle nudge,” but as the physical sensation of a hand on his back telling him he was being called to be a priest. He has experienced the transformational power of the Spirit, and he nurtures this faith through a commitment to spiritual practices. He’s up at 4:30am each day, saying the daily office, praying, reading, and journaling. In Channing’s words, “It is where I remember to listen and to intentionally place my day into the hand of the Spirit.  This intention establishes a mindset: to seek the wisdom, love and presence of God in what this day holds."

It was also clear from the start of our interactions with Channing that relationships are central to his ministry. Invariably, when answering our questions, he would circle back to themes of community and relationships.

Channing has spread the Gospel effectively in Silicon Valley. He is a gifted and inspirational preacher, a great storyteller, whose sermons carry a message of hope. He articulates and lives a timeless faith in Christ adapted to the present moment. Channing led his community to consider the intersection of technology and faith, the increasing problem of isolation, and need for times of rest and Sabbath. His style of leadership is inclusive. He discerns the gifts and strengths of clergy and parishioners alike and empowers them to effective ministry.

We believe that Channing is uniquely qualified to lead Good Shepherd and our four institutions. He is excited about The Hill and its opportunities for outreach. He also understands the vitality that schools bring to parishes. Channing believes that a parish should foster a community of people dedicated to each other and to God and should expand the love of Christ through an ever-increasing network of relationships, one or two at a time. In our experience, this is true about Good Shepherd now, and we are excited about how much more it will be true with Channing’s leadership and vision.

Channing will begin his ministry with us in late September or early October. We will be glad to welcome Mary and Olivia to Good Shepherd and to Austin. As this time gets closer, we will have more details on ways you can meet Channing and his family.

Thank you for your continued support of Good Shepherd. We know that the Spirit is at work in our community, and we are excited for the new ways that the Spirit will move with your continued commitment and with Channing’s leadership.



The Rev. Channing Smith lives in Los Gatos, California, and is the rector of Saint Andrew’s Episcopal Church and School in Saratoga in the Diocese of El Camino Real. Channing was ordained in 1992 in the Diocese of Southern Ohio where he served as the assistant rector at the Church of the Redeemer in Cincinnati. Before coming to Saint Andrew’s, Channing was the rector of Transfiguration Episcopal Church in San Mateo, California.

In the last few years, Channing has created and facilitates an annual Faith and Innovation regional conference that uses contemplative wisdom to explore the impact of innovation in a rapidly changing world. The conferences have attracted 100-130 participants from around the Bay Area. In his previous parish, Channing created the San Mateo County Interfaith Hospitality Network, now Home and Hope, a rotating shelter program that houses families in parish halls. In the Diocese of El Camino Real, Channing has served as the Chair of the Stewardship Commission and as a member of the Standing Committee.

Channing has been married to Mary Richards-Smith, a licensed psychotherapist, for 29 years. They have a beautiful six-year-old daughter, Olivia. For relaxation and fun, he enjoys playing with his daughter, fly fishing, running, and mountain biking.


Thank you

We appreciate the significant prayer and work of the search committee. The committee worked diligently for over a year to hear the Spirit and discern Channing’s call. Please join us in thanking co-chairs Bobby Chesney and Lisa McMinn and members Terry Bray, Betsy Clements, Mac Cromwell, Becca Davis, Scott Ferguson, Sarah McIntyre, Brad Neff, Thomas Queen, Sarah Sarahan, Becky Svahn, Boots Willeford, and ex-officio members Taylor Bowles and Milo Burdette. Please also join us in thanking those who have served as our wardens during this interim time: Taylor Bowles, Milo Burdette, Ben Hanson, Anne Jarvis, and Boots Willeford. Their leadership has made this search and call possible.