The Clergy Project

Three real clergy enter, wearing their respective vestments, sharing the stage, posing their internal questions… Priest – What would Jesus do? Rabbi – What would Moses do? Minister – What would Sartre do? Setting the tone for what’s about to come, it’s a reminder that these three members of the clergy are not only defined by their roles, they’re people!

Father Daniel, Reverend Shawn and Rabbi Elyse – two gay men and a woman – share moving, entertaining and sometimes shocking stories of how they were called to ministry and the challenges they faced within their congregations, as well as life-changing moments of service in the midst of deep sorrow and pain.


Told with candour, humour and compassion, they are frank about their personal joys and struggles in faith, some unusual circumstances where they just had to wing it – and even bend the rules – and the navigation of societal prejudice and inflexibility. (Daniel came out to his congregation a week after he got married, and Elyse became a rabbi when there were no female rabbis in Canada). Living lives of service and community, they don’t take themselves too seriously and are aware that tradition has room for change.


While each comes to the storytelling process from different religious beliefs and traditions, they have much in common: faith, hope and a drive to serve their community. But their individual human stories and their paths to becoming clergy are surprisingly different.


SOULO Theatre - Best Small Theatre in Toronto
The Clergy Project -10 Ten Theatre Shows in Toronto 2016 & Standing room only performances 
Director Tracey Erin Smith - Broadway World Award

Father Daniel Brereton (Anglican Diocese) was ordained in 1998, serving parishes in Oakville and Hamilton, before moving to Toronto in 2005 to begin doctoral studies in Christian Spirituality. Daniel has served several parishes in Toronto, worked as Coordinator for Toronto PFLAG and Administrator for the Guest House of the Sisters of St. John the Divine. He has worked consistently for the full inclusion of LGBTQ persons in the Anglican Church. He is currently Priest-in-Charge of St. John the Baptist, an ethnically diverse parish in Mississauga and has an active ministry as a Spiritual Director. 
Rabbi Elyse Goldstein (City Shul) was ordained in 1983 and came to Toronto to be Assistant Rabbi at Holy Blossom Temple. For her first three lonely and glass-ceiling-breaking years, she was the only female Rabbi in all of Canada. She was the first female President of the interdenominational Toronto Board of Rabbis and is the author of four books on Women and Judaism. Elyse started a new downtown liberal congregation four years ago called City Shul which is now bursting at the seams. Wife of Baruch Sienna, mom of Noam, Yonah and Micah, she is also an intrepid traveler, a passionate cyclist, a foodie, and a force to be reckoned with!
Reverend Shawn Newton (First Unitarian Congregation) received a Master of Divinity from Harvard Divinity School and is currently a candidate for the Doctor of Ministry at the University of Toronto/Toronto School of Theology. In the course of his preparation for ministry, Shawn served five different congregations, including the Cathedral of Hope in Dallas, Texas; Arlington Street Church in Boston, where he was administrator; the Universalist Unitarian Church of Haverhill, Massachusetts, as a student minister; the First Unitarian Church of Cleveland, Ohio, as the Killam Fellow; and the Unitarian Universalist Society of Wellesley, as Assistant Minister. Shawn loves to travel, to take in theatre and classical music, and to explore, with his husband, Bob, the fascinating array of neighbourhoods in Toronto.

Tracey Erin Smith, Director (SOULO Theatre) is an award-winning performer, writer and teacher who believes in crazy-wisdom and practices reverent irreverence. Smith is the founder of the award-winning SOULO Theatre Company, the Artistic Director of Toronto’s SOULO Theatre Festival, SOULO NYC and the Co-Founder of the Totnes SOULO Theatre Festival in England.  Smith recently won a Broadway World Award for her latest solo show, MEMENTO MORI. Her play The Burning Bush! was Critic’s Pick in BackStage Magazine NYC, a two-time winner of ‘Best of the Toronto Fringe Festival’, and the ‘Audience Choice Award’ in New York City’s Frigid Festival. Smith presents SOULO Theatre Workshops internationally.


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