Meet the refreshingly honest vicar who’s set to take Hitchin by storm
- Credit: Archant
A young man who grew up in Hitchin has returned as a vicar in his hometown, and he’s keen to show just how important the Church can be in these difficult times.
There’s a new vicar in town, and it’s 33-year-old Nick Smith.
Nick will be taking up his post as vicar at St Marks Church, in Lancaster Avenue, from next Sunday (November 15).
We sat down for an interview with Nick earlier this week, in which he shared his story, spoke about the role the Church can play in 2020 and beyond, and what he’s hoping to get for Christmas this year.
Nick has fond memories of our town, having grown up in the Bearton area of Hitchin, attending Strathmore School, Wilshere Dacre and finally the Priory School, where he would serve as head boy.
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He even spent some time as a young boy working a paper round for the Comet!
“I was a Hitchin Town FC fan growing up, and am looking forward to walking round the corner to Top Field for matches again as soon as the crowds are allowed to return,” Nick says.
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Nick confesses he was the typical “wandering millenial” in his 20s, working in a number of different jobs, travelling and even working abroad for a time.
He married Isabelle, who is part-American, part-Swiss, who moved here from Los Angeles and ended up in Hitchin.
Ultimately, he was drawn to becoming a vicar because it offers him the chance to do something that has always mattered a great deal for him – To get out there and show love to people.
Nick says: “People think it’s odd, and frankly so do I, when people like me claim that God has called them to do this. I’m not ashamed to say I do feel called to this work. I question God’s wisdom in doing so, but that’s his business, not mine!”
He left Hitchin about six years ago to undertake training in Cambridge, before he became a trainee priest in South London.
It was in the capital where Nick witnessed first-hand the challenges of deprivation and the strength of communities in overcoming these difficulties.
“The Church often gets a lot of bad press - often rightly so - but wherever I’ve been I’ve seen the difference churches can make through the love and the hope they offer.
“We’re in challenging times, so it’s more important than ever that Christians step up and serve their community in the way Jesus taught us.
So what are Nick’s long-term aims at St Marks?
“I do think that stereotypically you expect someone a bit older than me to be a vicar. I know I’ve got a lot to learn, but hopefully as a younger priest I can come with some fresh ideas and perspectives.
“I sympathise with people who find church boring, but I don’t think it needs to be... and faith in God is for all of life, not just for things like church services, praying, and reading the Bible.
“My faith is just as much a part of my life when I’m playing football or watching movies as it is when I’m leading services.
“And even if church isn’t as entertaining as Netflix, it can still offer us the hope and love that this world needs!
With a very different Christmas period approaching, Nick says he and Isabelle are hoping to get a dog this year, “like all good millennials”.