Mackay Smith is probably the only Student Government Association president in the history of Erskine College whose campaign for office was conducted from overseas. He made a video in lieu of returning to campus to deliver a campaign speech, and he was still studying in Scotland when his win was announced.
The 2006 graduate returned to Due West Tuesday—in person—to speak at an Erskine College chapel service in the Due West ARP Church.
Now associate pastor at White Oak ARP Church in Senoia, Ga., Smith attended Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia for a year in 2007-08. “Westminster was recommended to me by mentors I trusted at Erskine, and the year there was a fantastic foundation for further study,” he said. He then attended Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, N.C.
Smith says he “did not feel a strong calling to professional ministry” during his time at Erskine. “I figured that was for people who were far holier than I was.”
Still, he had an interest in seminary, and several Erskine mentors—Chaplain Paul Patrick, Younts Professor of Bible and Religion Dr. Bill Evans, and Dr. John Wingard, who at that time taught philosophy—encouraged him to attend.
“Encouragement from those men and other folks in my life helped me to pursue seminary as I had a strong interest in studying more about the Bible and the Christian faith,” he said.
“More importantly, they pointed me to Jesus, my hope for the only acceptance and success that matters in this life, regardless of my career. To this day, I’m thankful for their guidance and honesty.”
As Smith prepared to speak at his alma mater, he read the Apostle Paul’s words in Colossians 3:1-4 and was “struck by Paul’s insistence” in pointing the Colossians “to the author and perfecter of their faith, Jesus, and away from self-made, earthly substitutes.”
“For many, being away at college means a self-made ‘Christianity’ of family expectations, social youth groups, or ‘Christian’ schooling can no longer be practiced,” he said.
Smith knew that “Mere church-going couldn’t save me, mere participation in a Christian school environment couldn’t save me, and certainly cultural Southern decency couldn’t save me.”
In the Colossians passage Smith took as his scripture text, “Paul doesn’t discourage church-going, learning in a Christian environment, or morality,” Smith said.
“However, all of those things must be rooted in a Christian’s union with Jesus’ death by grace through faith, and must be the fruits of the new life in Jesus’ resurrection.”
Prior to becoming associate pastor at White Oak, Smith served as a pastoral intern in several churches, including First ARP in Gastonia, Greenville ARP, and Christ Covenant ARP in Greensboro, N.C.
“I’ve worked a few months in a coffee shop and in retail over the years as well,” he said.
Smith met his wife, the former Rachel Hunt, at Bonclarken Conference Center in the summer of 2011. “Rachel is my ideal friend and confidante, and I can say, knowing that God has graciously brought us together, that my life in ministry would not be possible without her.”