I learned Tuesday morning of the passing of Bill Smith. I knew of Bill long before coming to the NC Council of Churches. He had been the state director of the Baptist Student Union before I came to work for the Baptist State Convention in 1978, but he was still remembered warmly by the progressive Baptists I had the most contact with. He was ahead of his time, leaving the Baptist denomination and becoming a minister in the United Church of Christ several years before the fundamentalist takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention created a host of clergy who transferred to other places.
Bill had long and deep ties with the North Carolina Council of Churches. He received the Council’s Distinguished Service Award in 1990. He served as pastor of Pilgrim UCC, Durham, and Congregational UCC, Greensboro, both of which have recently become inaugural Covenant Partners with the NC Council. He and his wife Winnie have been generous supporters of the Council, giving both time and money. The funeral service will be on Friday at Congregational UCC, conducted by pastor Julie Peeples, a current member of the Council’s Governing Board.
Bill is survived by his wife Winnie, a son and daughter, five grandchildren, a sister, a brother-in-law, and a sister-in-law. In one of those small-world connections, the sister-in-law, Sue Fitzgerald, was my colleague during my professional Baptist days, when she was a highly regarded part of the Mars Hill College family, and she remains a personal friend and a friend of the Council.
For the full obituary, click here. To make online condolences, scroll down to the Guest Book.
I thank God for Bill Smith’s decades of prophetic ministry.
–George Reed, Executive Director