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Our Pastor

Reverend Dr. John H. Smith, Sr. is a native of Greene County Georgia.  He is the sixth of eleven children born to the late Deacon Jimmy and Susie Smith.  He is a family man, married to Sister Darla J. Smith; the father of six girls and four boys; a very proud grandfather and great-grandfather. 

At the tender age of nine years old, he surrendered his life to the Lord’s work.  As a teenager, he was ordained to the Senior Deacon Board at his home church, Sanders Chapel Baptist Church, and served as Clerk of the Board of Deacons. Because of his strong convictions and evidence of the Power and Spirit of Christ on his life, well before he delivered his trial sermon, Rev. Smith was assigned to assist Rev. Sims, and preach on second Sundays at Shiloh Baptist Church in Athens, GA; and preach on fourth Sundays at Walnut Grove Baptist Church in Clark County, GA.

Rev. Smith obeyed and accepted the call to the ministry in 1968 and delivered his trial sermon.  Approximately three months after the hearing, Pastor Smith was busy working for the Lord.  He served as Pastor at several locations and maintained the following full schedule:

  • First Sundays – Archer Grove Baptist Church in Sparta, GA
  • Second Sundays – Shiloh Baptist Church in Athens, GA (still assisting Rev. Sims)
  • Third Sundays – Timothy Baptist Church in Athens, GA
  • Fourth Sundays – Thankful Grove Baptist Church in Carlton, GA


Rev. Smith has also pastored at Fork Bethel Baptist Church in Lexington, GA.

In November 1970, Pastor Smith was called, and answered the call, to Pastor the Welcome Friend Baptist Church family in Atlanta, GA; where he continues to serve as Senior Pastor.  Although accepting the call to Welcome Friend, he remained at Timothy Baptist Church for an additional thirteen years before giving full time service at Welcome Friend Baptist Church.

As a true forerunner for Christ, during Pastor Smith’s tenure at Welcome Friend Baptist Church, he has directed the congregation through three glorious moves and improvements.  (1) From 714 Frazier Street to the Bethlehem Building; (2) to 1430 Bouldercrest Road, Atlanta, GA on August 28, 1977; (3) to 3198 Bouldercrest Road, Ellenwood, GA on December 13, 2009.  Each move has proven to be beneficial for the strength and growth of the church, as God continues to add to the Ministry.  Each Sunday morning, the church building was filled to capacity forcing the move from 714 Frazier Street to the Bethlehem Building to accommodate all the worshippers who desired to attend worship service.  Not long after the first move, and God’s bountiful blessings, the second move was inevitable.  Therefore, Pastor Smith searched and obtained a larger building for worship service at 1430 Bouldercrest Road in Atlanta, GA.  Shortly after relocating, Pastor Smith saw the need to expand and utilized his master carpentry skills by renovating the building. Many long hours Pastor Smith was found working diligently and tirelessly, as he remodeled the former structure with the “sweat of his brow.” However, the Lord has never stopped blessing and growing His church; so the facilities and parking lot could not adequately accommodate the worshippers.  With much prayer and consecration, he was instrumental in obtaining a loan to fund a multi-million dollar building project.  The search committee located property and the Welcome Friend Baptist Church celebrated the Ground Breaking Ceremony on August 16, 2008.  Phase one of Pastor Smith’s vision was completed as reality, and he led the church in celebration of the grand opening at 3198 Bouldercrest Road, Ellenwood, GA on Sunday, December 13, 2009.


Pastor Smith’s Outstanding Awards and Accomplishments include:

  • Honorary Doctorate of Theology Degree from Great Commission Theological Seminary in Bowling Green, Kentucky
  • “In the Spirit” Award Honoring Distinguished Men & Women of the Clergy (10/04/2013)
  • Proclamation: Reverend John H. Smith, Sr. Day in the 4th Congressional District; awarded by Congressman Henry C. “Hank” Johnson (7/24/2011)
  • Vice Moderator & 2nd Vice Moderator of the Mount Calvary Educational and Baptist Association (two consecutive terms)
  • Accomplished Speaker, Teacher, Lecturer, Revivalist, Counselor – throughout Metropolitan Atlanta, the State of Georgia, and the United States
  • Guest Appearance on Trinity Broadcast Network (TBN) , a segment honoring renowned Pastors
  • Many other prestigious awards, recognitions and honors

Pastor Smith has implemented numerous ministries to cultivate the “whole” person; a few are:

  • Christian Education Ministry
  • Missionary & Mission in Action
  • Drama Ministry
  • Health Ministry
  • School-to-Work Educational Development Ministry
  • Scriptural Deliberation
  • Grief/Funeral

Pastor John H. Smith, Sr. is nationally recognized; throughout his years of faithful and dedicated service to God, his travels and evangelization, his tremendous ability to make everyone feel special; he remains level-headed and approachable with an open-door policy.  The Welcome Friend Baptist Church Family gives praise and thanks to God for blessing us with a very special gift – our dynamic Pastor, the Reverend Doctor John H. Smith, Sr.




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