Speaking and living the truth in love
Rev. Donald Smith Shares The Key To A More Unified Mercer
(Editor’s Note: For Black History Month, the Harrodsburg Herald is giving voice to Black community leaders on how to bridge the gap and improve racial relationships.)
Donald Wayne Smith was born to be a leader. Smith, a Harrodsburg native, has spent his life investing in and elevating his community.
While reflecting on his time growing up in Harrodsburg Smith said, “I always felt growing up like people in our community got along.” Continuing, “I felt that we were a close knit group and people truly saw each other as special.”
His first roles leading others came in the ways he lead with his athleticism. Smith was a star running back for the Harrodsburg High School Pioneers leading the team to multiple successful seasons. In 1998, Smith returned home to lead the Pioneers, this time as the head football coach.
After seasons on the sidelines at Lafayette High School and Kentucky State University, Smith returned once again to help with the process of merging HHS and Mercer County High School. Smith continues to lead at the now unified MCHS as an assistant principal and in 2015 was named the athletic director.
In addition to leading the community as an educator and coach, Rev. Smith became the Pastor of the Centennial Baptist Church in Harrodsburg January 2020. He and his wife, Colette Smith, feel called to serve others and lead others to serve for the sake of the Kingdom of God.
Rev. Smith has watched Mercer County grow and change in many ways over the years. Though Smith reflects positively on his time growing up in Harrodsburg, he is disappointed that few people of color have been afforded opportunities to step into leadership roles in Mercer County.
“Outside of education, you see very few African Americans in key community leadership positions,” said Smith. He believes in order for Mercer County to continue to be a more unified community, striving for more diversity in leadership is an imperative step to move us forward. Although he believes it vital, he also knows this will not be easy.
Smith implores white community leaders to see the lack of diversity around them and choose to be the change, elevating the voices and leadership of others in the community who may look different than them. This broadening of perspectives is crucial when seeking unity and growth.
The steps for headway to be made are taken while spending time in intellectual discourse. “We can’t be afraid to talk about race or racial division,” said Smith. “We have to be educated and be willing to speak the truth of our circumstance.”
Although difficult discussions can be uncomfortable, Smith believes the discomfort will lead to greater empathy and understanding of one another. Rev. Smith challenges others to live out what we believe. Although many would speak to the value of a more unified community, few maybe willing to do the difficult things required to see that come to pass.
The heart of Smith’s message to Mercer County is simple, “Would the real Christians, stand up?”
Regardless of denomination or affiliation, are the hundreds who fill the churches of Mercer County pews on Sunday willing to take actionable steps to love their neighbor on Monday?
In John 13:35, Jesus said “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. (ESV)” Rev. Smith believes God will do the work of uniting our community, if the followers of Jesus will commit to living lives of truth and love.