Smith, Alvin P.


When a minister of God serves the church for 42 years, what legacy should he be most noted for? The ability to orate? The ability to build great edifices to the Master? The ability to recruit membership? There is a very positive place in today’s ministry for all of these things, but if we reach down to the very basic fundamental of our religious beliefs, it must be . . . “to love.” Alvin Percy Smith gloriously joined the Heavenly Father September 19, 1974, and if any individual ever represented love, he did. There is no question that he achieved certain levels of success in the oratory, and building and recruiting aspects of the church . . . but there is none he would treasure more than to be known as God’s Ambassador of Love. And that he was.
I was having a discussion with a group of ministers recently and the discussion was centered on the fact that mass media (radio, television, and newspaper) have become such a large part of delivering God’s message in today’s church. How sad, we concluded, that Alvin Smith didn’t have all these great vehicles to spread His Love. How sad for the world. How many didn’t live a better life because Alvin Smith never told them about it. How many bore enormous problems because Alvin Smith was not there to counsel. How many wore frowns on their faces because Alvin Smith wasn’t there to make them smile. No doubt, the world has been cheated because more were not exposed to Alvin Smith’s example of life and his ministry.
It took some time for Alvin P. Smith to decide that the ministry of God should be his way of life. An orphan, with an eighth grade education, it wasn’t till his mid-twenties that God reached down and called him.
By the time most have become experienced and established in the conference at the age of 31 (1932) Alvin was getting his first appointment. Eight years later he finally got his B.A. degree from Centenary College. Three years later (1943) he felt the call to serve his country and went into the chaplaincy of the U. S. Army. Upon completion of the war, Alvin Smith’s concern for social work led him to return to school to work on his Master’s Degree. While studying at Tulane, he was asked to help organize and become the first Executive Director of Goodwill Industries of New Orleans, a position he held for three years. In 1951, Alvin felt the need to return to the ministry on a full-time basis and he served churches in every section of the State of Louisiana until his retirement in 1974. His career in the Louisiana Conference included serving 35 churches.
Alvin Percy Smith is survived by his wife, Edrith, who served so faithfully by him throughout his church life; four children, a daughter, Judy Smith Egloff of Hanover, Pennsylvania, and three sons, William F. Smith of Atlanta, Georgia and Donald E. and Alvin R. Smith, both of New Orleans, plus fourteen grandchildren.
On Monday morning, September 23, 1974, memorial services with Reverend George W. Ross officiating, assisted by Reverend Robert Crichlow and Reverend Alfred Norris, were conducted for Alvin Percy Smith. No more fitting conclusion to the very essence of his contribution to God can be obtained than in the scripture that he requested be read and sung when he died:
But if from thence thou shalt seek the Lord
Thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek
him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.
Deuteronomy 4:29
We miss him.
Source: Journal Louisiana Conference, 1975; p. 184 By Alvin L. Smith

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