Son, Brother, Husband, Father, Uncle, Grandfather, Pastor, & Evangelist
John C. Smith Jr., 94, was born in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1927 during the heart of the roaring twenties to parents John C. Smith, Sr. and Sevella Mitchell Smith. Unfortunately, John never really knew his mother, who died of pregnancy complications when John was only two-years old. Later, His father, John Sr., remarried, and he and his new wife, Zephyree (“Mommy Dear”), continued the Smith legacy.
John, who came from a large family, shared a household with 5 siblings who loved and supported each other. He had four sisters: Gracie, Nadene, Marjorie, and Gwen, and one brother, Eugene.
While growing up in Little Rock John developed an appreciation for hard work at the early age of 14, taking on several jobs including delivering groceries on a bike, shining shoes at the local train station and hauling concrete. During this time he also gave his heart to the Lord, and knew at an early age he wanted to serve in the church.
John continued his formative years in Little Rock, graduating from Dunbar High School in 1945. In that same year he was drafted into the Army during World War II and served as a Medical Specialist and Clerk Typist. While heading to Nuremberg Germany over the dangerous waters of the Atlantic ocean he prayed and told God, if He delivered him safely back home, he would become a minister.
While still in service in the Army, John had an opportunity to enroll in Officer’s Candidate School, however, he wanted to honor God and become a minister instead. As a result, after being discharged as a corporal when the war was over, John decided to attend Oakwood College in Huntsville, Alabama where he studied theology.
One day when attending college, John was working on landscaping at the woman’s dormitory when he noticed a beautiful woman, who he later came to know as Helen George. As he observed Helen sweeping the steps, he was completely distracted by this woman who also swept him off his feet. It didn’t take long before the two would eventually become one in the year 1962. Two blessings from their union were beloved sons Jonathan and Jerrud, Both brought great joy to their lives. In the coming years, they were thrilled to welcome two new blessings to their growing family, beloved grandchildren, Justin and Lauren, who added to their joy and laughter.
John Smith attended Arkansas Baptist College (freshman year) and graduated from Oakwood University in Huntsville, Alabama, adding the title of Pastor to his name. He subsequently was honored with his Theological Seminary Honorary Doctor from The Philadelphia Theological Seminary, and attended Andrews University on a Sabbatical.
During his 60 years in ministry, Elder Smith pastored 32 churches crossing many states, including Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, and the territory of Washington D.C. His first church assignment in 1950, located in Marianna, Arkansas, had only 5 members and, later on in the 1970s, his largest church, Dupont Park SDA Church in Washington DC, had over 1,500 members. Throughout his ministry, Pastor Smith baptized over 2,412 people to Christ, and served in positions of leadership and influence in Sabbath School, Personal Ministries, Deaf Ministries, Prison Ministries, Religious Liberties, Inner City Ministries, as Campground Superintendent, and Adventist Community Services/Disaster Responses Director at The Allegheny West Conference of Seventh-Day Adventist.
He has visited and preached in countries such as Israel, Egypt, India, Greece, South Korea, and most of Europe. Although Pastor Smith’s career spanned 60 years of labor in Seventh-Day Adventist ministry, he never stopped serving.
If you ever met Pastor Smith he always had a smile on his face, with a deep voice to accompany it. He also always had a sense of humor to make each person feel comfortable and, because of his great connection with people, he didn’t know a stranger.
John C. Smith was a true listener and a steadfast optimist. A hard worker, he knew just when to crack the whip on people to bring out the best in them. He was also physically active through his later years, and loved playing golf and swimming. Other hobbies included photography, reading, and model trains.
Pastor John’s health started declining during the Spring of 2021, and even though he was diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure and Dementia, this didn’t keep him from enjoying life. The week prior to his passing he was admitted to home hospice, and Jonathan and Jerrud wanted to make sure he was comfortable in his own home.
On Wednesday October 2021 at 6:03 pm Pastor John took his last breath, while his two sons stood lovingly holding his hands at his bedside, believing in faith that one day they will see him again.
Pastor Smith’s presence will be terribly missed until the time the Lord comes back at last to take his loved ones home. We are glad to know his struggle is over, and the next thing he will see is the Glory of the Lord. We are encouraged knowing John, our father, grandfather, uncle, son, and, most of all, husband, lived his life for God. He was a dedicated servant.
Now that he is finally at rest, we take comfort in our hope that we will soon see him again, perhaps glancing across a majestic field bursting with the beauty of the landscape, with mom close by, beyond the pearly gates of heaven.
“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”
Revelation 21:4 KJV
John is preceded in death by:
Helen Smith – Wife
John Smith Sr – Father
Sevella Smith– Mother
Zephyree – Step Mother
Gracie Houston – Sister
Nadine Godley – Sister
Marjorie Jones – Sister
Gene Smith Sr – Brother
Gwendolyn D. Swan – Sister
Janet Smith – Daughter
Jonathan Smith - Son
Jerrud Smith - Son
Julia Smith - Daughter-in-law
Justin Smith – Grandson
Lauren Smith – Granddaughter
Antoine Smith - Grandson
Plus numerous Nieces, Nephews, and Cousins
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