October 22 was “a day of days” for Dr. Lamar Smith, Associate Pastor of Evangelism at FUMCFW. The Rev. Dr. Lamar Edward Smith Center for Evangelism & Church Growth was named after Dr. Smith in honor of his lifelong commitment to the United Methodist Church (U.M.C.) and his alma mater, Texas Wesleyan University. The new U.M.C. Central Texas Conference Service Center was opened as part of the “Rosedale Renaissance” Project at Texas Wesleyan University. The new center is an important part of this project to renovate the East Rosedale area of the city of Fort Worth. According to Dr. Smith, “A large crowd celebrated another step in the revitalizing of our local Methodist University.”
The center is across Rosedale, so its close proximity to campus will help faculty assist pre-seminary students with their studies or future ministry careers. Dr. Smith believes that few places in America are growing more steadily and positively than the Fort Worth-Dallas metroplex, and he is optimistic that the Central Texas Conference will see the opportunities of church growth in their area. “I hope that the center will inspire pastors and lay people alike to offer the new people in this area a church home,” Dr. Smith adds.
The fundraising campaign for the Rev. Dr. Lamar Edward Smith Center for Evangelism & Church Growth was valued at $100,000, which Dr. Smith finds very flattering. “To receive this kind of honor — and at my age — was a double blessing,” he says with a smile. Among the honored guests was the host of friends of Dr. Smith, whose generosity made this honor possible.
FUMCFW member Louise Canafax funded the clock tower that, coupled with a new entryway, provides a “front door” for prospective students, visitors, and the community. Louise was also a graduate of Texas Wesleyan University, and she was a world-class cellist and music educator in Fort Worth.
Dr. Lamar Smith has ties to Texas Wesleyan University that go back nearly 70 years. After his discharge from the Navy in 1946, he attended Texas Wesleyan and was the first president of the Alumni Association he organized on campus in 1952. He was named to the Texas Wesleyan Board of Trustees in 1970, and he served on the board for different periods of time thereafter. He was named Alumnus of the Year in 1978. Dr. Smith also served as interim president of Texas Wesleyan from 2010–2011.
FUMCFW was the first church Dr. Smith was assigned to as associate minister in 1955, and he welcomed more than 5,000 new members over his 13 years of ministry in the church. “It’s about sitting down with people and telling them you’d love to have them in the church community,” Dr. Smith explains. He says he’s always emphasized that there are plenty of places to worship, serve, and give. “I’ve always had something to sell,” he laughs.
Over the years, Dr. Smith held pastoral positions in Wichita Falls, Baton Rouge, and Conroe. Before retiring in 1997, he was provost of the Texas Annual Conference and assistant to Bishop J. Woodrow Hearn in Houston. “It’s been so much fun that I’ve done it because I love it,” he recalls. “I can’t imagine any other job that would have been as satisfying and as rewarding as this.” He rejoined the FUMCFW staff in 1997 as Director of the Foundation. In 2002, he returned to evangelism and has helped the church welcome 2,600 new members since that time. He also teaches a Sunday School class to what he calls “a loyal group of early birds.”
Dr. Smith has three “little Smiths” and three grandsons who bring great joy to his life. He was married to Doris Hudgens until she passed away after their 57th wedding anniversary, and then he later married Beverly Sone Elbert. In his spare time, Dr. Smith enjoys playing golf, reading, and watching sports.
We are so grateful to Dr. Lamar Smith for his ongoing ministry and commitment to the church. We would like to offer him a big congratulation on his latest honor, as well as his long list of accomplishments over many years of service!