The Rev. G.M. Smith, who pastored Lexington's Evergreen Missionary Baptist Church for nearly 60 years, died Wednesday at St. Joseph Hospital. He was 87.
The Reverend Smith, who came from a family of ministers, preached his first sermon at age 12 at Shiloh Baptist Church in Lexington. He was licensed as a minister at age 13 and was ordained when he was about 19.
"I've always felt that I had to preach," he said in a 1995 interview.
His father, the Rev. Thomas Horace Smith, pastored Shiloh Baptist Church for more than 30 years. The Rev. G.M. Smith's brother, the Rev. Horace Smith, is the longtime pastor of Lexington's Pilgrim Baptist Church and Watkinsville Baptist Church in Scott County, and his brother, the Rev. Charles Smith, is also a Baptist minister.
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In 1949, after serving as pastor of First Baptist Church in Sharpsburg and a two-year stint as a missionary in Eastern Kentucky, the Rev. G.M. Smith became Evergreen's pastor.
"A long pastorate is good and it's bad," he said in 1995. the Reverend Smith loved to see people get "saved." On the other hand, he had to bury several church members each year, he said.
"Every death is like a death in your immediate family," he said. "It's much harder on the pastor."
Gloster Maceo Smith was born in Midway, the fifth of 11 children of the Rev. Thomas Horace and Helena Ray Smith.
He was a graduate of the old Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in Lexington and attended Kentucky State College and Virginia Union University. He also went to radio schools and worked as a radio mechanic in New York and a radio technician at the Lexington-Blue Grass Army Depot at Avon. He operated a radio repair shop in Lexington at one time.
Over the years, he chaired the Black Church Coalition of the Bluegrass and was a leader in his denomination on the state and national levels. He was a trustee of Simmons Bible College, which awarded him an honorary degree, and moderator of the General Association of Kentucky Baptist.
In Lexington, he served as director of Community Action's Neighborhood Centers Program, was chairman of the board of African Cemetery No. 2 and was a member of the boards of the YMCA and the Lexington Transit Authority.
Survivors include his wife, Mattie Taylor Lillian Williams Smith; two daughters, Mary Estill Crutchfield and Johnetta L. Smith, both of Lexington; three brothers; a sister; and two grandchildren.
Services will be at 1 p.m. Tuesday at Shiloh Baptist Church. Visitation will be from 6 to 9 p.m. Monday at Evergreen Missionary Baptist Church and after 11 a.m. Tuesday at Shiloh Baptist Church. Smith & Smith Funeral Home is handling arrangements.