LILY — It was not only a celebration for a new location for Restoration Ministries' congregation, but it was also the celebration for a man who breathes life into the church and is always seeking to do more for others.
Pastor Ronnie Smith was given two surprise honors on Sunday on top of celebrating his birthday and the launch and dedication service at the new location for Restoration Ministries.
Smith was honored as a Kentucky Colonel and a Corbin Colonel during Sunday's service.
According to Smith's mother, Rubie, who attended the service and presented Smith with his plaque naming him a Kentucky Colonel, Smith has wanted to be a Kentucky Colonel for a long time.
"The Kentucky Colonels is an organization of talented and capable men and women appointed by the Governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky because of their service to the state," according to the Kentucky Colonels website. "Kentucky Colonels are unwavering in devotion to faith, family, commonwealth and country. Passionate about being compassionate."
Corbin Mayor Suzie Razmus also attended the service to present Smith with a plaque to honor him as a Corbin Colonel, the highest honor of Corbin, Razmus said.
"You are one of the most giving, loving people I have ever known," Razmus said to Smith. "You do so much for our community and you have truly been a blessing since you moved here."
Smith was visibly emotional with excitement and tears on Sunday as he received his surprises. Each honor was met with standing ovations from those in attendance that neared 175.
Smith has worked 35 years in ministry, traveling across the country to spread God's word in 42 states. He is also involved in little league and has coached teams in little league, softball, basketball and football.
Smith has worked to train supervisors and administrators in Christian education and has started over 200 Christian schools.
Just last month, Restoration Church moved from its location in Woodbine to the old Lily School property at 420 Lily School Road in Lily.
“We stand in amazement at what God has provided for us,” Smith had said in a press release about the move.
Restoration Church bought the 7.66 acres and 32,000-square-foot property to allow the ministry a chance to grow. Restoration Church began as a Bible study in Smith's home and in two-and-a-half years has grown to a congregation of nearly 150-200 people.
“Our heart and mission is to help our community, and this facility gives us an opportunity to expand our vision for a preschool, home for children, outreach to the homeless, and school of ministry,” Smith said.
Smith is no stranger to planting churches. He helped his father plant three churches and this is the second church he has planted in the community.
"Our heart is to plant churches around the world," Smith said. "There are so many people hurting not only around the world, but right in our back yard. We as the church are commanded by scripture to help. The church isn’t about stainglass windows and cathedral ceilings, it’s about changing the world, one family at a time.”