By Sonny Jones
In 2002, Piney Grove Missionary Baptist Church needed a pastor. Carl Smith agreed to lead the service “a few times.”
Those “few” services have turned into a long term calling to spread the Gospel at the church located at 851 South Braddy Plantation Road in Council.
Sunday, May 7, Smith will be recognized for his 21st anniversary in leading the congregation.
“Longevity comes with putting God first, following God’s commands and having a group of people that are willing to work closely with you and having the same vision,” Smith said.
Two guest speakers will help Smith celebrate his anniversary. Dr. Pearly Graham-Hoskins from Tabernacle Believers Holiness Church will speak during the 11 a.m. service. Pastor Corey M. Lyons from First Missionary Baptist Church will speak at 3:30 p.m. The public is invited to attend.
Smith never could have imagined he would still be in the Piney Grove pulpit more than 20 years. In fact, he had only been to the church “maybe on one or two occasions,” he said.
Smith was a member of First Baptist in Elizabethtown. He had visited Piney Grove during meetings of the Hammond’s Creek Association. It didn’t take long for the Piney Grove congregation to realize it had the right person to be its pastor.
“I just took on what they asked me to be,” Smith said. “I knew that it was in God’s plan. I would have never asked nor dreamed that I would be a pastor.”
Smith was a deacon at First Baptist in the mid-1990s before being called to the pulpit. He began preaching in December 1996. He took classes through the Baptist Association and at Carolina Bible College in Fayetteville.
As for his favorite Bible scripture? “It’s Matthew 5:16,” Smith said. “‘Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.’ That’s what I’ve based my life on.”
Officially retired as of April 1, 2022 after working almost 50 years — “49 years, 6 months, 14 days” Smith is quick to point out — at Specialty Product Technologies, formerly Veeder Root, in Elizabethtown, he now spends time working in his garden, traveling a bit and spending time with his wife Jewel while leading the Piney Grove congregation.
Smith plans to remain at Piney Grove as long as the congregation, his health and the Lord will allow.
“As long as my health is there and the Lord don’t decide to move me,” Smith said. “I’ve told (the congregation) I’m not going anywhere until you all tell me.”
With a congregation set to celebrate Smith’s 21st year in the Piney Grove pulpit it would appear he will be leading the services for several years to come.
“It’s going to be real special and have great meaning,” Smith said about Sunday’s celebration. “It’s showing love from my church family. It’s showing and appreciating the work that I’ve done and all the work that we’ve done together. It’s an expression of love that they have for me.”