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Tim Smith | Laura Austin Photo

Smith leaves Chamber to enter pastoral ministry

News Review staff writer

Tim Smith will be trading in his flip flops and sandals for boots at the end of the month when he leaves his role as Executive Director at the Ridgecrest Chamber of Commerce to head to Estes Park, Colorado to pastor a church.

He tells people, “It is like moving from Ridgecrest to Mammoth.” A bit more expensive but it offers the opportunity to continue what he and his family value in Ridgecrest. “The experience of community and small town that we have here was something we wanted to carry on. We love the relationships and the connections that we built here.”

And he loved his work, “I loved my role at the Chamber,” he says. “The conversations that I was able to be a part of as part of this role, they were unique to me. I wouldn’t have been invited to the table as I was in my role as a pastor. Trying to help build our community and strengthen our economy, which is what the Chamber is about. I liked to be a part of the conversations.”

The Smith family moved to Ridgecrest from Hermosa Beach in 2016. He jokes, “We traded one sand for another.” Tim had accepted a position as Lead Pastor at the Ridgecrest Church of the Nazarene. He stayed in that role for two years when he and his wife, an elementary school teacher, switched roles. She went back to the classroom at Faller Elementary and he took care of the kids.

When the opportunity to become Executive Director presented itself in May 2019, it seemed to be a good fit. “My role as a pastor has always included overseeing boards and supporting volunteers,” he says. “As one of my pastoral ministries I ran a community coffee shop for five years. Running that I was see engaged in the community and I was involved with the Chamber. I understood the small business part, churches are non-profits, the Chamber is non-profit, so there was a lot of bleeding together that I felt worked really well. I thought I could help with some of rebranding and communications, that is one of my strengths. When they talked about the Chamber early on it seemed like there was room for growth in those areas.”

When asked about his contributions, he talked about people not tasks or programs, “I am grateful for the relationships that have been built with individuals through the Chamber. How I have been able to walk through some difficult times with them. Hopefully people will remember me positively. I want them to recognize that we all need grace as we grow, as we build community, and we engage with one another.”

Tim continued his work as a man of God by creating a faith community called The Table. It was one of those ventures that grew from a small seed and bloomed into a non-profit organization. “Starting in 2014 my wife and I discussed my starting a ministry sometime. She suggested I start practicing by creating online messages which we shared with friends and family. It just grew from there. I got the non-profit status, 401(c)(3), documentation in January 2021. We did online things and we started in person last summer at the Maturango Museum. It is a fantastic space. It was a great partnership. After COVID the museum needed extra support. We were bringing in 20-30 people every week. There was some life in the museum that wasn’t seeing other activity.

We thought we would be here for a number of years. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a long enough time to build a strong base to keep it going after we leave. That is hard, it was starting to take off.” After a conversation with his mother he embraced, “Everything has a season, there is great scripture and songs about that. The reality is everything has a season. Some seasons are longer than others. Some seasons are meant for transitions or are a part of the process.”

The family found Ridgecrest to have good quality of life for the things that really matter. He joins in the community’s disappointment about a lack of a swimming pool. “The one thing I tell people about our going to Estes is, ‘You should see their pool.’ I was very involved in swimming when we lived in Hermosa Beach. I went to a Masters Swim Class three days a week at the beach. I swam two or three years from Hermosa to Manhattan Beach. I was very involved. The first thing I did when I was offered Ridgecrest was to see if they had a swimming pool and if there was an opportunity for Master Classes. There were online, but when I got here, there wasn’t. There was a pool at In Shape, so it worked.

The pool isn’t the only thing that matters to create quality of life: the community, the neighbors, the connections that you make are very important. They are more important than ‘stuff.’ ‘Stuff’ comes and goes.

Ridgecrest has been good for my kids. COVID was tough of course, but they love to play sports. I think the sports leagues, fields and parks are really good and contribute to our families in the community.

We loved the lack of traffic in Ridgecrest.” He points out that here you can five minutes to work and then drive an hour to get to other things. As opposed to living in or near a city and driving an hour to work every day. He adds, “We are close enough to go to mountains and lakes.

Ridgecrest has a good quality of life. Is there room for Ridgecrest to continue to grow? Of course. There is room for more engagement, more participation and opportunities for things to do as a community.”