LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–Sid Smith Jr., who died in April, was awarded posthumously the distinguished alumni award from Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary June 24.
His wife Arnette and son Sid Smith III accepted the award on his behalf at the Golden Gate luncheon during the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in Louisville, Ky.
Smith’s significant contributions to the Southern Baptist community in general, as well as the African American community in particular, were cited in the Golden Gate award.
He graduated from Golden Gate in 1968 with a master of religious education degree, and he held a high opinion of education’s role in his life.
“My father always stressed not just being a tool in the Lord’s arsenal, but a sharp tool,” Smith III said. “So in stressing that, academics were a large part of both of our lives.”
Smith’s inquisitive nature also was instrumental in the beginning of his relationship with Arnette.
“Sid asked questions. Men that I previously dated were more likely to tell me things than to ask me anything,” she said. “He was interested in learning about me as well as the course of study I was pursuing.”
Throughout his ministry, Smith became a pioneer in the African American community. He served as the first director of the Florida Baptist Convention’s African American ministries division; president of his own consulting firm, Black Church Consultants of America; and as founder of the Black Southern Baptist Denominational Servant’s Network. Crossing cultural borders to minister to all kinds of people became Smith’s goal throughout his ministry.
“My father acted as a much-needed bridge between the African American community and the Southern Baptist Convention by really helping African Americans see that being Southern Baptist does not mean being anti-black,” Smith III said. “He helped them see that the Kingdom is being reflected in what the Southern Baptist Convention is doing.”
Smith III discussed the mutual gain from African American involvement with the SBC.
“He also helped the Southern Baptist Convention see that there are tremendously gifted, talented and committed leaders in the African American community that could help the Southern Baptist Convention fulfill its Great Commission [efforts]…. The Kingdom will be incomplete without both sides working hand in hand.”
Smith built another bridge between his ministry and his family.
“After my retirement, I was able to travel with him all of the time during his ministry,” Arnette said.
Smith III reiterated his father’s family involvement.
“One of the lessons that he did teach me was that ministry is not over and against your family. You cannot minister to everyone else and neglect your family,” he said. “You minister first to your family. If you do things properly, then your family is your first beneficiary.”
Smith’s life of leadership and bridge-building leaves others in the Southern Baptist community with large shoes to fill, Smith III said.
“There is a picture that we have from when I was about 5 years old. My father, who was 6’5 at the time, and I stood outside of our church. I looked up at him while he looked down at me,” he said. “I’ve always felt like that, and it’s been a privilege to be close enough to him so that I may learn so much from him.”
Demetrius Hicks II is an intern with the Louisiana Baptist Message and a student at Oklahoma Baptist University.