Sunday, June 14, 2009

In Memoriam: Dr. C.B.T. Smith 1915 - 2009

Dr. Clarence Booker Taliafero (C.B.T.) Smith, retired pastor of the Golden Gate Baptist Church in Dallas, passed away Saturday, June 13. He was 94 years old.

I’m not sure whether his death will attract the same amount of public attention as did Dr. Caesar Clark’s last year. But Pastor Smith’s ministry was characterized by the same depth of commitment, the same pervasive generational influence and the same transformational impact on those of us who heard him as Clark’s

For a period of better than 35 years in Dallas, there were about five African-American pastors in the Baptist church, who were legendary in their pulpits and pulpits across the nation. Their voices were clarion calls to salvation, discipleship, and challenges to live our lives with a dignity that glorified God. To this day we recall their names with a fond wistfulness and a near envy. CBT Smith was one of those preachers.

For more than five years now, I’ve gotten a chance to know Pastor Smith, not nearly as well as I’d like to, but better than I'd ever imagined. I have marveled at his wisdom, his devotion, his love of the Christ, the Bible and His Church. I had the wonderful privilege of being able to be a speaker with him at a discipleship conference in Kansas City, Kansas, a few years ago. In his late 80’s then, he exhibited a clarity of thought, a boundless energy – he took care of himself, no care takers, no handlers – and a friendliness, transparency, humility, charm and accessibility that only made you want to spend more time with him.

What has been most amazing in recent years was to be with him when he preached. In his old age, his voice was clear, strong, his spirit infectious and his messages edifying, comforting and, yes, convicting.

Those of us who had been hearing him through the years always knew him to be a great preacher. But it seemed as if he got better with age, as is testified to by the fact that up until this final hospitalization, he had been traveling across the state and country, fulfilling preaching engagements. I think it is because we were seeing someone who was daily more aware of his walk with God.

Last year, not long after I got out of the hospital, I was talking to a friend of mine who was in regular contact with him, and we were talking about how he was doing after the death of his beloved wife, Rosie. My friend said, that he was doing well, and said that as they conversed, Dr. Smith said, ‘You know, I was just working on this sermon…” and he went on to tell him about it. We were both amazed! After nearly 70 years of preaching, with sermons most of us have never heard, he was still working on new sermons when he was almost 90 years old!

As a colleague, as a church member, as a Christian, I’ll miss Dr. Smith. He was a truly lovable man, a tremendous role model. A great preacher and a beloved man of God.


RGRobertson said...

Thank you for your beautiful comments about my pastor, Dr. Smith. He was truly a man who loved the Lord and lived it. Dr. Smith pastored 4 generations of my family starting with my grand parents. He married my parents who will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary this year; He married my brother and his wife (21 yrs); he baptized me and all my brothers and sister; nephew & niece. He and his sweet wife Rosie were God Parents to my younger brother (now 38). He has layed to rest many of my relatives and friends. His encouragement to me personally growing up impacted my life forever. He was a reachable and transparent person as you said in your article and he will be missed. As we prepare for his homegoing service, I will enjoy hearing the all the accolades that will come tonight and tomorrow, but what I really will enjoy seeing is all the lives that Rev. Smith impacted and led to Christ. Can you imagine what it must be like for him and so many others in heaven? Now they join the great crowd of witnesses who are cheering us all on to finish our own races. Rev. Smith finished well. And like he has said so many times before. . .I got a feeling everything's going to be alright. Be alright! Be alright! Be alright! God bless you.

Gerald Britt said...

Thanks RG, Rev. Smith was truly a statesman and a remarkable influence on generations of families. Tomorrow will be a true celebration.