Memories Remain: Brother Paul Schmidt

First Baptist Church of Grayson Pastor Josh Schmidt holds a photo of his late father, Brother Paul Schmidt, taken at Mount Washington in New Hampshire.
In Baptist circles and beyond, legends about the life of Brother Paul Schmidt  may last forever.

"He was almost a Paul Bunyon figure. He was larger than life." said Pastor Josh Schmidt, seated behind his father's desk in a church office with a view of Grayson's downtown Main Street.

"I still hear new stories about my dad every month. He was so well known in Baptist circles. There are always new stories, jokes and memories,"

Paul Schmidt served as a pastor for 35 years, including 16 years in Martin County at Highland Heights Baptist. His son explained that his dad chose to stay in Inez because he wanted he and his two brothers, Sam and Paul Jr., to be able to graduate high school alongside their childhood friends.

"He had so many opportunities to leave … " Schmidt said, explaining his father had to work extra hard during those years. "He worked three or four jobs. He umpired baseball, worked at the funeral home, for the school system and served as a full-time pastor so they could buy school clothes for us. He worked 100 hour weeks. He was that type of person."

As longtime pastor at Grayson's First Baptist Church, Schmidt earned many friends. His office remains virtually unchanged, his son said, with his books and belongings serving as a reminder "to be kind to people."

Schmidt does not hesitate to answer when asked about his father's legacy.

"He was always willing to put down whatever he was doing to help somebody, regardless of whether or not it benefitted him. He taught us to appreciate people in regular jobs and always be good to people regardless of what they can do for you," he said, before citing an example of Brother Schmidt's unconditional approach.

"A couple of weeks before he died, he got a phone call. He gave out his cell number often. He was desperately ill. The call was from someone who needed help with an electric bill. He went and got money from his own account and paid the bill. He had only hours left to live and this was somebody who never came to church here," he said.

Schmidt had initially won a battle with colon cancer, his son explained, although the disease later returned and attacked his liver and lungs.

"I  think everyone who was in church that day will remember him saying 'I hope that I taught you how to live. Now, I'm going to teach you how to die,'" Schmidt said. "He felt closer to God. He had a newfound sense of urgency, which is not uncommon for sick people. He saw Grayson as his mission."

Until his final hours, Schmidt lamented he could not do more for his church and community.

"The night before he died there was a deacons' meeting and six deacons came to the house. He sat in his recliner. He started crying. He would die in six hours. He said he was holding the church back and said, 'You guys need to figure out what happens next.' He wasn't able to work as hard as he thought he should."

Schmidt said "the mission of his entire life," is best expressed through scriptures.

 "And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Image: walkingonwater.com
"What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?"