News Articles

Allen Schmidt, first Canadian convention exec, dies

SALMON ARM, British Columbia, Canada (BP) — Allen Schmidt, founding executive director of the Canadian National Baptist Convention, died Sept. 25 in Salmon Arm, British Columbia. He was 83.

A native of Barriere, British Columbia, Schmidt led the convention from its founding in 1985 as the Canadian Southern Baptist Convention until his retirement in 1998. The convention, now with 300-plus churches, adopted its current name in 2008.

Gerry Taillon, the Canadian convention’s national ministry leader and Schmidt’s successor, described him as “a model of someone who loved God and did whatever it took to serve Him and His churches.”

“I have never met a man who worked harder than Allen. He led with complete integrity and honesty,” Taillon said in comments posted at the Canadian convention’s website.

Schmidt “enjoyed having fun” and telling a joke, added Taillon, who formerly served as the CNBC national church planting and evangelism/pastoral ministry consultant. “He will always be a mentor who taught me much on how to lead and how to live the Christian life.”

“We in the CNBC celebrate a life well lived,” Taillon wrote.

Henry Blackaby, who became friends with Schmidt through youth meetings they attended in the Vancouver area, said Schmidt, as “a pioneer among Southern Baptists in Canada,” was “wholly committed to the Southern Baptist emphases on evangelism, missions, biblical authority and the Cooperative Program.”

“He spent his entire adult life investing in Canadian Southern Baptist churches,” said Blackaby, a noted discipleship author and speaker who also was heavily involved in Southern Baptists’ early initiatives in Canada. “His influence will long be felt in the Canadian work and heaven will be populated with many Canadian believers because of Allen’s faithful service.”

Before Schmidt’s formal election as the convention’s first executive director in 1986, he had served as Canadian coordinator and associate director of missions for the Northwest Baptist Convention since 1981 and was instrumental not only in the founding of the Canadian convention but also the Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary in 1987 in Cochrane, Alberta.

Schmidt also served as president of the Northwest convention from 1976-78, when churches in Canada were part of the U.S. convention. At the time, Schmidt was the founding pastor of Royal Heights Baptist Church in Delta, British Columbia.

Upon his retirement from the convention at age 65, Schmidt became pastor of Richmond Hill Baptist Church in Calgary, Alberta, a new congregation of 20 people embarking on a building program. He retired there in 2003. Richmond Hill today averages about 250 people in Sunday worship.

Schmidt was a 1961 graduate of Gateway Seminary of the Southern Baptist Convention (formerly Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary) and a 1957 graduate of Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas.

While in seminary he gained his first church planting experience as the founding pastor of Temple Baptist Church in Fairfield, Calif. His second church plant was Pike Road Baptist Church in North Surrey, B.C.

Hamish Buntain, church ministry catalyst for Canada’s WestCoast Baptist Association, recounted that Schmidt “touched every decade of my life except the first (I am 61 now. I met Allen when I was 16). He was like a spiritual father to me. It was in his office that I surrendered to the ministry.”

In his first pastorate, Buntain realized he had gained insights for ministry while in seminary “but my pastor, Allen Schmidt, had modelled and therefore taught me how to be a pastor. He continued to take an interest in my life and encouraged me in various ways all his life.

“Interestingly, there came a time when in the providence of God I became his pastor,” Buntain said in an email to Baptist Press. “He and I would go on visitation together and I remember well the evening God used him to lead a husband and wife to trust Jesus.”

Schmidt was the fourth of seven children in a farming family in British Columbia’s North Thompson Valley near Kamloops. He trusted Christ as his Savior at age 9 at the close of a two-week Vacation Bible School. At the age of 12 he had the first sense of God’s call to ministry.

Early in his high school years he dropped out of school and operated his own trucking business as an independent owner-operator for several years. In 1952, he went to Vancouver to attend Shurpass Pacific College where he completed his high school and university entrance requirements. In the fall of 1953 he was one of five students from Ruth Morton Memorial Baptist Church in Vancouver who enrolled at Hardin-Simmons. One of the other students was Catherine Lee, whom Schmidt married on June 19, 1954.

In addition to his wife of 62 years, Schmidt is survived by two daughters, Becky Wade and Leanne Hart; a son, Joe; and six grandchildren.

Schmidt’s funeral was Saturday, Oct. 1, at Broadview Evangelical Free Church in Salmon Arm. In lieu of flowers, the family had requested memorial gifts to the building fund of Mountain View Baptist Church in Salmon Arm where the Schmidts had been members in recent years.