Founders: Bishop Howard & Mother Leanna Smith
Bishop Howard Smith was born March 18, 1902 in Maxton, NC. He was the fifth of eleven children born to James and Mittie Smith. He meets Ms. Leanna Patterson in 1921 and after a brief courtship; they married on July 15, 1922. Mother Smith was first to accept the Lord and was instrumental in winning her husband to the Lord. He became a member of the ole Tabernacle COGIC at 210 Broome Street under the leadership of Bishop James Wells in 1927. Bishop Smith served as a faithful member, deacon and elder under Bishop Wells' tutorage.
Bishop Smith was a hospitable man. One of the great moments in his life was when he invited a guest to his home for dinner. The guest told him, Whatever you put your hands to will be blessed. After dinner the guest had prayer with Bishop and Mother Smith and Bishop invited his guest to church with him. Upon arriving at church, Bishop and his guest entered together. When Bishop; arrived at his seat - no guest. Bishop Smith and his wife had entertained an angel; and just as he was told everything he put his hands was a success.
Full of religious and pious zeal, he was directed by God to 411 Halsey in 1941 with just one member, his wife. They founded Tabernacle #2. God put his approval on his work, and with the help of God he preached out a congregation. During his stay on Halsey Street, the Lord blessed him to start a radio broadcast on WBGI 1230AM. On October 19, 1945, the Lord blessed him to move to 144 Court Street and on May 24, 1953 the mortgage of Holy Temple was burned. As the ministry continued to grow, a larger facility was needed to accommodate the congregation. The church relocated in 1961 to 16 Stratford Place- our present location.
Bishop Smith received his BS degree in 1953 from the International Theological Seminary and in 1957 his Doctor of Divinity from Trinity Hall College and Seminary. In 1958, Bishop Smith was ordained as Bishop of Peru under Senior Bishop C. H. Mason. In 1966, he was appointed as assistant to the State Bishop, the late Bishop Johnson of New Jersey, by Bishop O. T. Jones, Sr. In March 1967, he was appointed State Bishop of the Garden State Jurisdiction of New Jersey until his demise September, 1985.Bishop was succeeded by his Son in ministry Dr. C. H. Evans in 1987; who later changed the name of the church in memory of Bishop Howard Smith to Smith Memorial Church of God in Christ.
Bishop & Mother Howard Smith
Dr. C. H. Evans, Pastor
Elder Eric Hayes
Mother Leanna Jones