PARKERSBURG-After more than 20 years in ministry the pastor of the Christian Life Center has retired.
Pastor Delton Smith began his career as a funeral director and later he worked as a representative of a pharmaceutical company.
"I got my call to preach in 1976 and continued to work in the pharmaceutical business for two years," he said. "In 1978 I became a traveling evangelist for 11 years, we sold our home in Indianapolis and started traveling."
Photo by Jeffrey Saulton
Pastor Delton Smith in his office at the Christian Life Center as he prepares to retire after 21 years at the church.
At the time Smith was affiliated with the United Pentecostal Church, but now he is independent.
Smith said after 21 years of ministry in Parkersburg, he and his wife are moving to Dublin, Ohio. He said they sold their house in Lubeck in preparation for the move.
"We've had a long career and we're 71 years old," he said. "I've already written a stewardship presentation and I will be involved in some ministry."
Smith said he may come back at times for certain occasions. He said the new pastor will be Keith Mendenhall from Carrollton, Ky.
Mendenhall will start his ministry there on March 6. Smith said the sendoff will be attended by his son who is a pastor in West Orange, N.J. and his daughter and her family who live in Kansas City, Mo.
Smith said when he changed from evangelism to pastoring it brought a change in his focus.
"Evangelistic work and this work are two total different things, but both are very scriptural," he said. "When you are in the evangelistic ministry it is just that, you try your best as an evangelist to win people to the Lord. A pastor is more like a shepherd, he guides the lives of infants, which we dedicate here, to the end of life and helping every teenager and young married with problems to get them back on the right track. If I can't do that I'm happy to steer them to someone else with more ability than I have."
When Smith announced his retirement he said the congregation's reaction was wonderful.
"Some of them acted really sad," he said with a laugh. "We've had a great relationship and my wife and I are going to miss them more than they will miss us."
Smith said the church's day care center, Lovingkindness Child Care Center, has filled a need in the community. He said establishing the center was the result of another call from God in his life.
"We collaborate with Wood County on the pre-school program," he said. "That's real ministry because you meet families that really need a Christian atmosphere for their children. We have a great staff and board who watch over the children like mothers and fathers or grandmothers and grandfathers."
Smith said he meets former students from the center in the community. He said some start when they are six weeks of age and some continue there until age 8 with the after-school program.
Over the years, Smith estimated more than 1,200 children have been through the center.
"We really feel great about the program since it has blessed a lot of families," he said. "We see all kinds, rich and poor, some that need help with parenting and others with grandparents raising children. The family of the 1950s does not exist anymore.
"We help single parents and blended families; we love them all."
Smith said the 70-year-old church has grown in his time as pastor.
"A lot of new things have been added and a lot of new people have joined us," he said. "We've done a lot of building and I've enjoyed it."
Smith said the new gymnasium includes a state of the art kitchen and youth center.
"We've had many projects but my project is changing the lives of men and women and young people, that's what I've enjoyed doing," he said.