The Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) met with the congregation following worship on April 26, 2015 for the purpose of reporting its recommendations. With the approval received at that meeting from the congregation, the PNC is very happy to announce that Rev. Dr. Daniel Lawrence Smoak has been called as the next Pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church. Daniel will begin work at WPC on June 1, 2015. Below is a message from Daniel. There is also information below on an opportunity to meet the Smoak family at a drop-in on May 8. Please contact Dee Bee Wright if you were not present at the meeting and would like more information.
A Message from Rev. Dr. Daniel Lawrence Smoak
I was born in 1975 in Orangeburg, S.C. My two brothers, sister, and I were blessed with faithful parents who did a marvelous job fulfilling the promises they made at our baptisms at First Presbyterian Church. The church did their part as well. I remember the pastors, Sunday School teachers, and youth leaders that did everything in their power to fill us with knowledge about the Bible and God’s love for us in Jesus Christ.
Even in that faith-filled environment, I found ways to rebel. Growing up on a farm provided many opportunities for mischievous behavior, and earning a driver’s license at 15 brought freedom to pursue a self-centered life. Yet, God is good, and even when I did not know it, he was working in my life, fulfilling the promises he made at my baptism.
By God’s grace, I was not accepted into my top college choices, and I landed at Presbyterian College. It was the only school that granted me admission! It was at PC that God put me in touch with a community of faith that discipled me and challenged me to live fully for the Lord and to seek his will for my life. That community of faith, of which my future wife Amy was part, encouraged me to consider seminary and ministry after graduation.
Supported by prayer and loving friends and family, Amy and I were married in the months after my graduation from PC, and we made the move to New Jersey where I attended Princeton Theological Seminary.
Those years at Princeton were very good. A newlywed whose job it was to read books, think about God, and talk with other people about theology, I was right at home. I fell in love with the church during those years.
After seminary and a meaningful ordination service at First Presbyterian Church in Orangeburg, Amy and I moved to Thomasville, Georgia in 2000 where I was called to be the Associate Pastor at First Presbyterian. My areas of focus were adult education, mission, youth, and helping to navigate through a long interim period. Amy and I were blessed to welcome Andrew (2002) and Lauren (2005), both immensely loved by that faithful congregation.
In 2008, we were glad to move back to South Carolina where I accepted the call to be the Pastor of Bethesda Presbyterian Church in York. Bethesda is a congregation rich in history, having served God consistently for more than 250 years. While at Bethesda, I completed my doctoral studies in Reformed Worship at Erskine Seminary. It was at Bethesda that our family expanded again, welcoming Matthew in 2013.
A little bit more about my family: Amy is the love of my life and my favorite person in the whole world. She is a teacher- a high school teacher in Greenwood, an adult education teacher at a soup kitchen in New Jersey, a GED teacher at a the technical school in Thomasville, and now the teacher of our children. Andrew loves Minecraft, building things outside, and figuring out how things work. He’s a Boy Scout and a piano player. Lauren loves horses and violin. She’s a member of the National Cutting Horse Association and has been competing in the youth division. Matthew is a constant source of joy for us. We’re not sure about his favorite things yet, but he does seem to like Curious George, playing outside, trucks, and any kind of ball. Everyone in the family loves to read- or be read to in Matthew’s case.
I love the Lord, the church, and being a pastor. The core elements of preaching, teaching, and pastoral care are where my heart and gifts are, and I am so excited about being part of the Westminster church family.