Trinity to honor Pastor Emeritus Smith with endowment

the Rev. A. Richard Smith


Susan Campbell


Members and friends of Trinity Lutheran Church in Tullahoma will celebrate the church’s 60th anniversary with a special service honoring the Rev. A. Richard Smith, Pastor Emeritus, at 10:45 a.m. Sunday, announced church pastor, the Rev. Alex Hoffner.

Present at the special service will be the Rev. Julian Gordy of Atlanta, bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s Southeastern Synod.

Also during the service, a continuing resolution will be voted on by church members creating an endowment fund in Smith’s honor, according to Hoffner.

The Rev. A. Richard Smith

“The church is creating an endowment fund in Pastor Smith’s honor to be used for various ministries in the community, and plans will be announced during the service,” said Hoffner.

Smith, a native of Nashville, moved to Tullahoma with his wife Olga and young family in 1951 and formed the mission congregation that was to become Trinity Lutheran Church in 1953.

Smith was instrumental, along with other area pastors and volunteers, in originating several area volunteer and non-profit organizations that still operate today.

In addition to his work on the civil rights front, Smith, the late J.A. Welton and the late Jack Thoma were instrumental in the integration of the Tullahoma City Schools. He worked to found the Tullahoma Day Care Center, the first local chapter of Alcoholics Anonymous and, together with Nell Farrar, former director of the school for girls located at the site of the current Correction Academy, helped start the first chaplancy program at all corrections institutions in Tennessee.

Smith also served as chairman of the state committee on public welfare and was instrumental in re-settling 100 Vietnam War refugees into the area.

“I have been privileged to work with all kinds of wonderful people in my career,” said Smith. “I consider myself just a cheerleader. There have always been so many wonderful people in the ministry program here in Tullahoma. They were all so delightful.”

Following his more-than-40-year career as church pastor, Smith retired in 1993. He began a second career as lecturer in Greek and pastoral theology at The University of the South in Sewanee. He taught courses in pastoral theology, including service as interim professor of pastoral theology. He retired from Sewanee in 2010.

Smith is a graduate of Vanderbilt University and received a M.Div. from Wittenberg University.

Gordy, a native of Newnan, Ga., served as pastor of St. Andrew Lutheran Church, in Franklin, Christus Victor Lutheran Church in Ocean Springs, Miss., and Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Morristown before his election as bishop of the ELCA Southeastern Synod in June 2007.

He received the A.B. in religion from Mercer University in Macon, Ga. in 1972 and the M. Div. from Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in 1985.

Gordy was a founding member of the board of MATS, a unique home for homeless persons in Morristown, and of Samaritan Ministry of Jackson County, an ecumenical emergency relief agency on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. He is chair of the Immigration Ready Bench for the Conference of Bishops and is a member of the Justice for Women Consulting Committee and the Board of the Journal of Lutheran Ethics.

Before attending Southern Seminary, Gordy worked in university and hospital administration and in housing restoration. He is married to the Rev. Dr. P. Morgan Gordy, pastor of Christ Lutheran Church in Nashville. They have four children and seven grandchildren.

A reception will be held following the 10:45 a.m. service. Trinity Lutheran Church is located on the corner of Wilson Avenue and Cedar Lane in Tullahoma. For more information call 455-9475.