MEMPHIS — James H. Smith, former executive secretary of the Illinois Baptist State Association and later the fifth Southern Baptist Brotherhood Commission president, died Oct. 21 in Memphis. He was 95.
Smith spent nearly 50 years in Southern Baptist leadership. At the time of his retirement in 1991 from the Brotherhood Commission where he served 12 years, the agency accounted for more than 530,000 men and boys involved in missions.
“He was acknowledged by his staff as a leader who placed the role of the local church in the prominent position of providing manpower to reach the world for Christ, and he saw himself as a pastoral leader to his staff,” said Jack Childs of Memphis, former Brotherhood Commission vice president of support services, who served the agency 36 years.
Smith led the missions agency to pilot World Changers, a coed missions education and missions action ministry for Southern Baptist youth. World Changers grew from 137 participants in one East Tennessee project to mobilizing more than 20,000 participants annually in cities and communities across North America and internationally.
During his tenure, the Brotherhood Commission became the coordinating agency for Southern Baptist Disaster Relief and hired its first national director.
The Brotherhood Commission eventually merged with the Home Mission Board and the Radio and Television Commission to become the North American Mission Board in June 1997.
After his retirement, Smith served as pastor of churches in Memphis, focusing primarily on church revitalization.
Smith is survived by three children.