Passing the torch: Church That Cares installs new pastor

Bishop Kenneth D. Smith (right) hands a symbolic sword to his son, Rev. Kenny Smith, at an installation service on Sept. 2 to swear in the younger Smith as pastor of Church That Cares in Tarkington.

Church That Cares (CTC), a United Pentecostal Church in Tarkington, installed Rev. Kenneth “Kenny” D. Smith II as its new pastor on Friday, Sept. 2.

If his name sounds familiar, that’s because the new pastor is the son of the longtime CTC minister, Rev. Kenneth D. Smith, who is taking a step back after 30 years in the CTC pulpit to focus more on his roles as Section 10 presbyter for the Texas District of the United Pentecostal Church International (UPCI) and chaplain for the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office. The senior Smith will remain as bishop and elder of the church, providing guidance and support as needed.

Smith II has been a part of the church since 1992, when at the age of 10 he and his parents moved to Tarkington to lead Faith Tabernacle Church, the church’s previous name. In those early years, he helped his parents operate the church by doing menial tasks such as janitorial and lawn care work. After answering a spiritual call to the ministry, Smith II slowly went from junior youth pastor to youth pastor, then on to administrative pastor and technology technician. He is an ordained minister through UPCI.

A group of ministers gather around Rev. Kenny Smith to pray for God’s anointing as he steps into the pastor role of Church That Cares in Tarkington.

The installation ceremony included the senior Smith passing along a symbolic sword of truth.

“Wear it always. Wear it proudly. Wear it to guard your own soul, your family and this church, but wield it in love and compassion,” he told his son. “[The sword] can kill or make alive, so use it to bring life. In dealing with people, if you are going to err, err on the side of grace.”

Telling his son to always seek counsel and be guided by Christ, Smith Sr. handed the sword to him before he was sworn into the new role by Rev. Jeff Story, superintendent of the Texas District of UPCI. A dozen or so other ministers who attended the ceremony joined Story for an anointing prayer over Smith II.

History of CTC

In 1934, a Oneness Pentecostal minister came through Tarkington and found a group holding services on Carter Loop under what was then called a Brush Arbor. The minister began to preach there and was asked to stay. From this humble beginning, the group moved to a pine thicket off of what is now FM 1008 and erected a pole barn. The church stayed there for a few years and then Sis Lillian Grace Holt became the pastor.

Under her leadership, they built a very small building and then actually moved it and the congregation to its present location at the corner of 21 CR 2281 on SH 321 in Tarkington. They had an acre of land sold to them by a Mr. Young for a $1. Once the building was moved, members added to it and it became known as Faith Tabernacle.

Through the years, many pastors came and went with none staying for a very long period. Then in 1992, young 30-year-old Evangelist Kenneth Dale Smith sent the trustees of then-Faith Tabernacle a resume, and came and preached for the congregation. He was asked to come a second time and preach.

The Smith family is pictured standing behind Bishop Kenneth Smith at the installation ceremony for his son, Kenny, as pastor of Church That Cares in Tarkington on Sept. 2.

At the time, the church had 22 voting members and Smith Sr. received 21 votes to be elected pastor. Rev. Smith, his wife, Tammy, and son, Kenny, had actually held a revival for the previous pastor of Faith Tabernacle in 1989 and some members remembered him from this revival.

As soon as Rev. Smith got his family moved, he and his wife, along with a faithful group of members, started a major clean up and remodel of the one acre and the building. God began to bless this group and within the second year the congregation began to grow. In just four short years, they had 70 and 80 people in attendance.

Soon, with around 100 in attendance, that little white building was full. The church had a strong desire to build a fellowship hall and were saving funds toward that dream. One Sunday morning Pastor Smith was in his office, and he said he felt the Lord speak to him that they should first build a new sanctuary. He walked out and told the people what he felt the Lord had told him and they began to put their efforts toward that dream. In 1998 that dream became reality as work began on a 50 X 125-square-foot metal building.

Thousands of dollars in materials were donated. A commercial company erected the building and secured it for the cost of their workers’ labor. Other labor was donated, too.

The new building was nice but the church still only had the one acre of land. They prayed and believed that God was going to help them acquire more property surrounding them, and it happened. They now have almost four acres.

In 2003, they built the Family Life Center, which can host large fellowship events. The church had a slogan “The Church That Cares.” The community picked this up and began to call Faith Tabernacle “The Church That Cares.” So in 2018 the church changed its name from Faith Tabernacle to CTC -The Church That Cares.

In 2013, the congregation, along with the CTC board of trustees, brought in the Texas District UPCI, and voted for Rev. Kenny Smith to be the next pastor of CTC and and to allow Bishop Smith to remain as the elder of the Church. They plan to work together as the church continues to flourish and grow.

Pastor Smith’s wife Tammy was always and still is an integral part of his ministry. She played the piano and organ and was music director. She heads up the fundraising, interior decorating and anything else that needs to be done. Kenny’s wife, Beth, is a talented singer and a good partner to him as the church moves forward in the next phase of its history.

For more information on the Church that Cares, go online to https://churchthatcares.net/ Services are Sunday: family worship at 10 a.m. and campus ministry for children age 3 through adults, and Wednesdays at 7 p.m.

Rev. Jeff Story (left), superintendent of the Texas District of UPCI, officiated the installation of Rev. Kenny Smith (right) as pastor of Church That Cares in Tarkington. He is taking on a leadership role previously held by his father, Rev. Kenneth Smith (center), who is now the church’s bishop.

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