His church background is filled with highlights. He was pastor at the Holliston Church in Pasadena for 12 years. The Rose Parade passed by each year, so the church constructed grandstands for the parade to host 1,000 people. “It was like an urban barn raising every year,” he said.
He also recalled hosting movie shoots on church property. “It wasn’t uncommon to have stars like Eddie Murphy, Tom Hanks, John Travolta and Robert Stack on site, either in the church, or in the courtyard. Stack used our facility backdrop to introduce episodes of his TV show, Unsolved Mysteries.”
Smith also worked with Prison Ministry for several years. “Going inside the prison to spend time with men who are incarcerated, with little reason for hope, often serving life sentences, was a powerful experience of the grace of God. It has had a profound effect on me.”
As his life and ministry come full circle, Pastor Eric is always quick to share a memory of his youth growing up in Coronado. Anyone who was here during those car-carrying ferryboat years, can’t help but sit spellbound listening to his stories.
“Coronado is my home,” said the tall preacher, with a wide smile on his face. He stands well over six feet. “Coronado is the ground of my being. I was raised, loved, and nurtured on this island.
“I was given so much, by so many, that it has always been my dream to return and offer something back to this community. When I was approached by the Coronado Community Church, there was a wholeness in it that struck me immediately.”
Ironically, Pastor Tom Warmer, the first pastor of Coronado Community Church, was Smith’s mentor in ministry all those years ago. “What a gift to anticipate pastoring the church he founded,” said Smith. “This is a new and exciting chapter of ministry in my life. Pastoring this church is a joy to imagine.”
The Pastor Eric Smith is married to Karen, his partner in life and ministry; she is a member of the Screen Actors Guild and the Equity Actors Union. The Smiths have four grown children and four grandchildren.
Coronado may not be the center of the universe for everyone, but for anyone who has lived here for any length of time, particularly in the early pre-Coronado Bridge days, coming home takes on a whole new meaning. One can only imagine the excitement felt by Pastor Eric Smith as he returns to his hometown, and to this spiritual challenge.