Reverend Ernest Clarence Smith, noted for his zeal for learning, was elected Metropolitan’s fourth pastor in 1928. He believed that the church’s primary ministry was to prepare members for success and that this preparation was grounded in Christian education. Dr. Smith expanded the already popular Sunday School to include an adult Sunday School and he also established the Baptist Training Union, the Children’s Church and the Christian Education Institute.
Reverend Smith’s leadership and oratorical skills served as a magnet, and membership continued to grow, once again signaling a need to expand to support the needs of the church’s ministries. One of the milestones of his 49-year tenure was the construction of the E.C. Smith Monument Hall. Reverend Smith retired as pastor in 1977 but continued to serve as Minister Emeritus of Metropolitan to his death in 1988.
Did you know that…
- Reverend Smith was born on January 16, 1897, in Cumberland County, Virginia.
- He was educated in the public school system of that county as well as Virginia Seminary and College, Lynchburg, Virginia; Virginia Union University, Richmond, Virginia; Columbia University and Union Theological Seminary in New York City.
- Reverend Smith’s ministerial span covered 59 years of service that he spent pastoring three churches: Mt Carmel Baptist Church, Lynchburg, Virginia; Second Baptist Church, Richmond, Virginia; and the Metropolitan Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., from which he retired with forty-eight plus years tenure.
- During those 59 years, he also served as an instructor in the School of Religion at Howard University for 23 Years; presided over the Virginia State Baptist Convention for 19 years; was elected President of the Baptist Ministers’ Conference of the District of Columbia & Vicinity; and traveled in five of the seven continents.
Some of Dr. Smith’s Key Accomplishments and Dates at MBC
1930 – Began forming the thirty-six Service Organizations to promote greater fellowship among the members and to better serve the community.
1931 – Hired Mr. Todd Duncan, world renowned singer, as Director of the Junior Choir.
1932 – Organized and taught the first Teacher Training Class in MBC, for only trained workers were allowed to teach Sunday School..
1934 – Guided the church to host the National Baptist Sunday School Congress.
1935 – Steered the church in hosting the National Baptist Convention of America.
1939 – Spearheaded the church’s extremely social and financially successful fundraising project of sponsoring “The Wings Over Jordan” at Griffith Stadium then located where the Howard University Hospital now stands.
1943 – Founded the church’s first Biblical Institute, a precursor to the Board of Christian Education overseeing VBS, BTU, SS, etc.
1944 – Reorganized the entire membership into 22 Tithing groups to stimulate financial growth, to better facilitate (execute) planned church projects, and to more nearly approximate the Biblical standard.
1947 – (1) Accompanied by Mrs. Smith, took a 66-day world tour/cruise of Europe and the Holy Land; (2) Welcomed into the gospel ministry, his son, the Reverend Oswald Garrett Smith.
1950 – Dedicated Monument Hall built to provide greater classroom space for the expanding membership and a recreational facility for both church and community youth.
1951 – Opened a Day Care Nursery (later known as “Kiddy College”) as a service to working mothers in the church and community.
1954 – Created a formal Board of Christian Education.
1956 – Established the first church-based Federal Credit Union in MBC.
1958 – Held the mortgage burning ceremony for Monument Hall during the 94th church anniversary celebration.
1961 – Played a vital role in launching the Progressive National Baptist Convention and its auxiliary, the Progressive National Sunday School & B. T. U. Congress.
1964 – Dedicated the newly built E. C. Smith Youth Center.
Reverend was a pioneer, a builder, an orator, a teacher, and a leader. After retirement, he became Pastor Emeritus and made his home in Washington, D.C. and in West Palm Beach, Florida. He passed away on January 12, 1988, at St. Mary’s Hospital in West Palm Beach.
Information provided by the Historical Book Committee