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Rev. Noah Smith
*Reverend Noah Smith was born on this date in 1908. He was a Black musician, businessman, and minister.
From Marion, Indiana, after high school Smith played the drums in bands, moving in 1930 to Minneapolis, where he also ran a business painting signs on buildings and vehicles. Smith was a cartoonist briefly before getting a job in 1941 as a waiter in a dining car for the Burlington Northern railroad, where he worked for nearly three decades. He accepted the call to ministry in 1954, “I said, ‘What do you mean go into ministry? I’m 49 years old.’ I said, ‘God would have called me when I was young.’ And he said, ‘He did, but you didn’t hear him.’”
Smith graduated from MaCalester College in St. Paul at age 78 and earned his Master of Divinity at United Theological Seminary at 81. He first served as an evangelist at St. Peter’s AME in South Minneapolis, where he later was ordained a minister in 1960, then a pastor at two churches, St. Mark’s AME in Duluth and St. James AME, Minneapolis, where he served as senior pastor until his mandatory retirement in 1998. In 1998, Smith went on to Wayman church, a community of about 500 members, where he had been ever since.
Journalist Charles Hallman, a parishioner at Wayman, said Smith defied the mandatory retirement age and never questioned why he had such longevity. “He always said he didn’t deserve to retire,” Hallman said. “He was called to preach, he was called to teach, and so, therefore, he said he would do that until the day he died, and he did do that until the day he died.” Rev. Noah Smith on September 24, 2015.