The Clergy Project

A Priest, a Minister and a Rabbi Walk Into A Theatre…

Toronto’s award-winning SOULO Theatre

brings together clergy from 3 different religions on stage for the first time. 


Father Daniel D. Brereton


“The Clergy Project Isn’t just about their roles as priest, minister and rabbi – it’s about their humanity.”

-Cate Mckim, Life With More Cowbell


Monday, November 7, 2016 – 7:30 PM
Revival | 783 College Street, Toronto (map)


Award winning theatre director, Tracey Erin Smith, brings together three of Toronto’s prominent religious leaders to create an original show about being a faith leader in 2016 and life behind and beyond the cloak.

Two years in the making, SOULO Theatre Artistic Director Tracey Erin Smith’s dream of gathering professional clergy from diverse faiths together to share their stories is coming to Toronto on Nov. 7th for one night only.

The event begins with the three clergy entering in 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 why they decided to go into the clergy, the challenges faced within their congregations, and life-changing moments of service in the midst of deep sorrow and pain.

Told with candor, 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 even 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.



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) became the 23rdrd minister of First Unitarian in September 2007.He 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.

Father Daniel D. 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. Daniel is supported in his life and ministry by his husband James. 


Tracey Erin Smith (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 Toronto Award for her latest solo show, MEMENTO MORI.  Her plays have been 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.