Minneapolis church says farewell to pastor who lived to be 107

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Rev. Noah Spencer Smith was already 49 when he was ordained as a minister. Who knew he had more than 50 years of preaching ahead of him?

At age 107, Smith was the oldest practicing pastor in the U.S. when he died this month, WCCO reports.

A memorial service was held for him Wednesday at Wayman AME Church in north Minneapolis, where Smith had scaled back his preaching to once a month or so in recent years.

In 2013, WCCO was on hand for one of those sermons.

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Smith was born in Merion, Indiana, in 1908 and traveled the Midwest as a jazz drummer and as a waiter on railroad trains before settling in Minneapolis during the 1940s, and finding a spiritual home at St. James AME Church.

Smith told Macalester Today a few years ago that he'd been reading scripture and teaching Sunday school at St. James but was flabbergasted when the pastor encouraged him to become a minister.

“I said, ‘Why should I do that? God should have called me earlier,’” he recalled. “The minister said, “He did, but you wouldn’t listen.”

Smith enrolled at Macalester College in 1982 – when he was 74 – and majored in religion. The alumni magazine says when he graduated, the college in St. Paul presented him with an award honoring him for capturing the spirit of the liberal arts as a lifelong pursuit.

KARE 11 caught up with Smith on his last birthday, as the Minneapolis Spokesman Recorder had done two years earlier.

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