Editor’s Note: This week we are thankful for all of our pastors who give selflessly to the congregations of the Oregon Conference. We are saddened by the loss of Pastor Bill Smith, but are thankful for the legacy that he built.
William Earl (Pastor Bill) Smith died peacefully early Thursday morning, November 14, 2019, at the age of 84, following a heart attack at home. Bill is survived by his wife, Sue, of Tillamook, Oregon; son Jordan and wife, Joy of Mountainview, Hawaii; son Bill, Jr of Tillamook, Oregon; daughter Bonnie and husband Tim Mayne of Netarts, Oregon; sister Marian Rieber of College Place, Washington; 10 grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren.
The Seaside church was ready to become a vibrant Christian community, ready to be a beacon of hope in the community, and ready to build a new church. But, they didn’t realize any of that until January of 2016 when Elder Bill Smith arrived as their “interim” pastor.
“Yes,” Bill said, “I retired from official church ministry at 80, after ten years pastoring in Tillamook. But for me, retirement was about ‘change,’ not ‘rest.’”
Pastor Bill arrived in Seaside with his heart and Bible open, and his truck filled with carpentry tools. He inherited his passion for “making things from wood” from his carpenter father, and left a legacy of hand-made churches and schools wherever he worked – Alaska, Sabah, Malacca, Malaysia, Indonesia, Colorado, and Oregon.
“I probably worked a lot more than I should have,” Bill said, “but the old Seaside church needed new bathrooms, a new sanctuary, a new kitchen, a paved parking lot, and landscaping. We couldn’t afford to pay people to do the work, so we pitched in together to make it happen.”
Though ministry in Seaside quickly began centering on the building process, Bill’s ministry was far more than construction. “Bill was amazing,” Conference President Dan Linrud remembers. “He could have seen this interim appointment as caring for church boards, a few prayer meetings, and the weekly worship service. But not Bill! He would drive up from his home in Tillamook, help shingle the church roof, then visit several members, meet with Seaside leaders, and spend time counseling new friends. He was amazing!”
“Architect Don Kirkman drew us a plan, as he has for thousands of other congregations around the world, for remodeling and updating our building,” remembered Pastor Bill. “I thought it was too fancy, but the church board approved it and assigned me the role of general contractor for the job. We began work in May.”
Pastor Bill’s background as a mission aviator, carpenter, outdoorsman, and friend, drew a circle of fellowship that included Seaside’s community leaders and the church’s neighbors. Right away the neighbors noticed new life in their Adventist neighbors, and many stopped by to see what was happening. Pastor Bill made quick friends with everyone and some, like Ray, and Bruce, and John, brought their tools and became crucial members of the construction team.
“The day we turned on the new electric signboard on the road beside the church, I had to smile,” says Pastor Bill. “It did exactly what we had hoped. There’s a stoplight at the corner by the church, and everyone sat there reading our sign as they waited for the light to change. That sign has become a real asset for the church’s ministry in Seaside.”
Don Kirkman, Bill’s architect friend, came to the church’s dedication service. “I am so pleased,” Don said, “with how Bill and his team have been able to blend the old with the new so that the church has become one – all new.”
That’s also how the church members and community see the Seaside congregation. Bill’s leadership brought them together as one, so they have become a gleaming beacon of hope in the community.