The Rev. Dr. George Lincoln Smith, 72, pastor of the Union Wesley AME Zion Church here for the last 21 years and an officer of the General Conference Episcopal Committee of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, died of cancer Sunday at his home in Washington.
In 1960, Dr. Smith became pastor of the 137-year-old church, which had served as a station on the underground railroad transporting freed slaves from the South to the North during the Civil War. In 1967, under his leadership, the church moved from 23rd and L streets NW to its present $2 million facilities in Northeast Washington.
Born on a cotton farm in Franklinton, N.C., the youngest of 17 children, Dr. Smith worked as a shipping clerk for 10 years in the garment district in New York City. He graduated from Livingstone College in North Carolina in 1946 and earned a bachelor of divinity degree there in 1951. The college later awarded him an honorary doctorate of divinity.
He began his pastoral career in New York state and served churches here and in North Carolina before becoming pastor of the Union Wesley church.
Since 1972, Dr. Smith had served as chairman of the AME Zion Church's General Conference Episcopal Committee. He also was a member of the church's Board of Home Missions.
Survivors include his wife, the former Bernice Sanders, a daughter, Sandra S. Baker, and a son, George Lincoln Jr., all of Washington; six sisters, and three grandchildren.