Siesta Key Chapel welcomes new Senior Pastor and celebrates 50th anniversary

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As Siesta Key Chapel celebrates its 50th Anniversary as a Presbyterian USA church, the Reverend Dr. Ruth Herron Smalt has been called as its sixth Senior Pastor. Reverend Smalt comes to Siesta Key from the historic First Congregational Church on the island of Nantucket, Massachusetts.

Reverend Dr. Ruth Herron Smalt

Pastor Ruth was raised in Rye, New York and holds a Ph.D. in Educational Administration & Supervision, a Master of Science in Education, and a Master of Divinity. Seminary had long been in God’s plan. She was always active in her church as a leader and teacher, as well as a national speaker at Christian camps and conferences, while engaged in her careers (Educator and non-profit Executive Director) and raising a family. Once her girls were off to college, the time was right to follow God’s calling.

“The people of Siesta Key Chapel have been warm and welcoming in creative ways during this season of social distancing,” said Pastor Ruth.

The appointment of Pastor Ruth coincides with the 50th anniversary of the church. On November 8, 1970, Siesta Key Chapel began worshiping at the Out-Of-Door School. This impromptu sanctuary spoke to the first worshipers of a chapel in the woods. There was something elemental in it for worshipers, both in spirit and in the ultimate simplicity of the building. Three years would pass before a permanent location and groundwork for a new building could be achieved. The first service of worship in the new Sanctuary came to pass on Maundy Thursday, March 27, 1975. This year marks the 50th Jubilee anniversary as Siesta Key Chapel continues as a church in the tree tops with a congregation of friendly people, all caring about the needs of each other and the needs of the community.

“Our big excitement is preparing for the Chapel’s 50th Anniversary Golden Jubilee Celebration on Sunday November 8, when we will meet on the physical campus of the Chapel, as well as live-streaming the morning,” said Pastor Ruth. The service will include worship with special music, installation of the Senior Pastor by the Peace River Presbytery, communion, and a celebration of the past 50 years as we envision a bright future at the Chapel and in the community.”

Siesta Key Chapel is putting plans in place for a gradual, small group opening in late fall. Concurrently, Pastor Ruth invites congregants and leadership to one-on-one outdoor “meet-the-pastor” time in the Memorial Garden, under the Pavilion, and out in the community. She makes pastoral care visits to the hospital and to homes, meeting outdoors whenever possible, finding ways to safely and joyfully care for her congregation

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