United Church of God

Local Church Updates: Portsmouth Surprises Pastor

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Local Church Updates

Portsmouth Surprises Pastor

On Feb. 3, 2007, the Portsmouth, Ohio, congregation had the pleasure of honoring Gary and Liz Smith with a surprise recognition party for their years of service and dedication to God's Church.

Mr. Smith was ordained a local church elder on the Day of Atonement in 1977 by Bob Boyce, pastor of the Peoria and Macomb, Illinois, congregations. This year marks Mr. Smith's 30th year serving as an elder and his 25th year serving as a full-time minister.

Both of the Smith's children were born while they lived in Peoria. Erinn was born in 1980 and Ian in 1983.

In February 1982, Mr. Smith was hired full-time by the Church and worked for three years in Peoria and Macomb under Jess Ernest.

In the summer of 1985, the Smiths were transferred to St. Louis, Missouri, where they served with Bob Spence for two years. After two years they were transferred to serve the Dallas, Texas, East congregation in the summer of 1987.

In 1990, they were notified that they would be transferring to southern Ohio to pastor the Chillicothe and Portsmouth, congregations. They arrived in the summer of 1990 and moved to the town of Waverly, Ohio. Over the years, there have been many marriages, births, baptisms and funerals.

The congregation wanted to honor and recognize the Smiths for their years of service to the Church, so the occasion was kept secret by the brethren in Portsmouth and Prestonsburg, Kentucky, until the announcement period during services. At that time Kevin Call, a deacon in Portsmouth, read some expressions of appreciation from a few of the brethren, presented Mr. and Mrs. Smith with a book of appreciation from the brethren, and then brought out their children, Erinn and Ian, who had secretly been invited to the occasion.

The book of appreciation was the biggest surprise since it was a compilation of comments from Church members from Illinois, Missouri, Texas, Portsmouth and Prestonsburg, and from other ministers with whom Mr. and Mrs. Smith have worked over the years.

Mr. and Mrs. Smith have served the Portsmouth and Prestonsburg congregations for enough years that for many young people they are the only minister and wife that they have ever known. One member commented, "He has been with us for 16 years and we hope that we can keep him another 16 years."