ARIZONA CITY — Earnest Gerald Smith, 75, known to many as Pastor Ernie, died peacefully in his home on Feb. 5, 2020, after surgery and faithfully enduring a difficult health journey with brain cancer.
Born in New Mexico to Gordon and Bea Smith, Pastor Smith was raised in Florence. He graduated from Florence Union High School in 1962 and joined the Air Force, proudly serving for 8.5 years. He then attended and graduated from Vennard Bible College in Oskaloosa, Iowa. In 1975, he accepted an assignment with World Gospel Mission as an evangelical missionary. He served faithfully in Africa (Burundi, Tanzania and Kenya) for 12 years and in Ukraine for 10 years. Stateside, he ministered as a pastor at Mount Shasta Evangelical Methodist Church and Lake Elsinore Evangelical Methodist Church in California. For the past 10 years he served as pastor of Arizona City Evangelical Methodist Church.
He was known for his innovation, trailblazing and true dedication to serving God. His lifelong work as an evangelist, pastor, missionary, youth worker, teacher, regional director, mechanic, builder, church planter, husband, grandfather, great-grandfather, family man, friend and co-worker touched many lives around the world. His passion was to bring people into God’s Kingdom. He helped countless others draw close to Jesus.
Survivors include his wife and high school sweetheart, Anna; their three adult children, Catherine Hartwig, Scott Smith and Michael Smith; eight grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.
Celebration of life service at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 22, at Freedom Family Church in Arizona City. Burial in National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona, in Phoenix.
Memorial contributions may be made to: Arizona City EMC (designated for the missions fund), P.O. Box 267, Arizona City, AZ 85123.
J. Warren Funeral Services in charge of arrangements.