The golden reverend: Congregation celebrates pastor’s 50 years
It was a special Sunday in Carriere as family, friends and parishioners gathered to celebrate the work of Reverend William Gary Smith.
Smith has been the pastor of First Baptist Church of Carriere for the past 50 years.
The festive service was filled with special musical performances of Smith’s favorite hymns and presentations by special guests including Senator Angela Burks Hill, Rick Blythe-Director of Stewardship Mississippi Baptist Convention, Carl Myers-Pearl River Baptist Association, Hal McCormick and Chris Banks-former and current fire chiefs of the Carriere Volunteer Fire Department respectively and Dusty Dearman of WRJW Radio.
Senator Hill presented Smith with a proclamation from the Senate of the State of Mississippi in honor of his 50 years of service to the church.
McCormick was the first fire chief for the Carriere Volunteer Fire Department and said that Smith was instrumental in getting the community’s fire department off the ground.
Smith was born in Bailey and moved to Carriere in 1964.
“I was five years old when I heard God’s call to preach,” Smith said. “I didn’t speak or preach until I was about 17 years old.”
Smith began his journey at Bailey’s Ark Adelphia Baptist Church as youth minister. The first church he pastored was Union Baptist in Kemper County.
In October of 1964 Smith started at First Baptist Church of Carriere.
During his tenure, Smith began the Bible Quiz, a television ministry and the Mr. Inspiration program.
Smith has been married to Bobbie Jo for the past 58 years. They have three children, 4 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.
“We’ve had a wonderful life together praising God and bringing in as many people as we can into the fold,” Bobbie Jo said.
When speaking with members of the congregation, a common quote was spoken, “Bro. Gary is a true servant of the Lord.”
Jane Emmanuel has been a church member for the past 35 years and said that Smith didn’t want all of this attention.
“He wants to give all the glory to God,” Emmanuel said. “But a man of God serving in one church for 50 years, we need to recognize that.”
Emmanuel said that Smith has a hospital ministry that spans three states, visiting ailing members not only in South Mississippi, but Louisiana and Texas as well.
Myra Dawsey is a 41-year-church member and said that Smith is always willing to do anything that people would ask of him.
“He’s a wonderful speaker and everyone admires him,” Dawsey said.
Mary Inman has been attending First Baptist for the past 48 years and in 1966 she was in a near fatal car accident.
“I was in the intensive care unit and really sick and when I opened my eyes he was praying over me,” Inman said. “Every time I need him, he is always there. I wouldn’t leave this church for anything.”
Smith said that serving the same church for 50 years has been wonderful.
“I’ve baptized people, their children and their grandchildren,” Smith said. “It’s a wonderful congregation. We all help each other and there was proof of that today.”
The church is located at 7264 Highway 11 N.
Visit the church’s website at https://sites.google.com/site/firstbaptistchurchcarrierems/home and find them on Facebook at First Baptist Church of Carriere MS.
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