NASHVILLE, Tenn.––L.W. Smith, a Vietnam veteran and the leading supporter of a historic book of daily devotions for the U.S. military, was elected chairman of the newly organized non-denominational Strength for Service Board of Directors, meeting Sept. 26-27 in Nashville.
Smith was the obvious choice to lead efforts to provide two books of daily devotions to members of the Armed Forces and first responders.
In 2001, the self-employed commercial property manager in Columbia, S.C., led an 18 month effort to raise $180,000 to provide Strength for Service to God and Country to military reserve personnel across the southeast.
He was named chair of a national United Methodist task force that printed and distributed 480,000 copies of the 72-year-old book. He also participated in the development of Strength for Service to God and Community, a similar book of daily devotions for police officers, fire fighters, EMS workers, and other first responders. Some 16,000 copies of the second book have been distributed to community servants by local churches, individuals, and Boy Scouts.
Noting that the original book was written by 365 leaders of churches of nearly every U.S. denomination and it was distributed by chaplains of various denominations, and noting that the second book is used by community responders without regard to denominational affiliation, Smith advocated for forming a 501 (c) 3 organization to provide greater opportunities for corporations, foundations and other denominations to assist in the ministry, without giving to a particular denomination.
The General Commission on United Methodist Men agreed to turn the ministry over to the non-denominational board.
That nine-member board adopted mission and vision statements, adopted bylaws, and established a $250,000 budget for 2015. The board did not establish numerical goals for each book, but Smith made it clear the goal was to get the books into the hands of thousands of military troops and first responders by Sept. 11, 2016, the 15th anniversary of the attack upon the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
“God has blessed this ministry and I look forward to continuing my service to help make these devotionals available to all those who sacrifice to serve and protect us each day,” says Smith.