Remembering Henry Smith

Henry Smith died last Friday at the age of 88.  His obituary is HERE.    

Henry started attending CMC in the late fall of 2014.  We had just finished our “Difficult Passages” worship series which highlighted themes of scripture we found troubling – a follow up to our “Twelve Scriptures Project” which highlighted those we especially valued.  In an early conversation with Henry I remember him commenting that he was attracted to this kind of wrestling with challenging topics. 

Henry liked to think.

After a visit with Henry in his home in 2017 I went back to the church and made notes of the conversation because I found it remarkable.  Henry had been part of a congregation that closed, so embarked on a search for a new church home.  He had made a list of 14 congregations within a certain radius of his house.  As he visited and worshiped with these congregations, he also had a list of five criteria he was searching for.  Vitality and Community were the only two I remembered to write down.  After settling on CMC, he charted that in one year over 50% of the congregation had some kind of active role on a Sunday morning.  He appreciated this. 

I’m not saying this to make CMC look good. I’m saying this to illustrate the kind of intentionality and acuity with which Henry approached his faith.

Henry was often one of the first people to arrive in the sanctuary on Sunday mornings, and one of the last to leave whatever adult Sunday school class he was attending.  He frequently had additional inquiries and comments that didn’t fit into the scheduled class time.

Henry did not do email or internet, so was not a part of our online gatherings this past year.  But he remained thoughtfully engaged till the end.  Nancy Franke would deliver printed sermons, Daily Connectors, newsletters, and announcements for him to read. 

My last conversation with Henry was three weeks ago.  I called to check in before a routine surgery for him.  He said he was feeling fine and shifted the conversation to several recent sermons and blogs, expressing his appreciation that the church was looking more closely at racism.  He also wanted to talk some about my summer Sabbatical project regarding creating rituals for adult life stages, encouraging me that this was important work. 

Henry lived a full life and we had the privilege of being a big part of his 9th decade.  His inquisitive mind and kind spirit enriched us all.  May his memory be a blessing.

Although there will be no formal memorial service for Henry in Columbus, we will gather tomorrow evening at 7:30 through our regular Zoom link to tell and hear stories to honor his life.