Pastor Smalls came to serve Bell Grove Baptist Church on April 11, 1999. Born in New York City on November 4, 1952, he was the fifth child and the third son of the late Harold and Leila Smalls. Rev. Smalls is married to Gwendolyn Lorraine Strom Smalls and they have six children.
Pastor Smalls was brought south and raised by his grandmother, the late Mrs. Laura (Daught) Woodward Cobb when he was eighteen months old. Pastor Smalls was educated in the school system of Aiken County, attending Aiken Graded Elementary and Graduating from Martha Schofield High School in 1970. During his elementary and high school years, Pastor Smalls also attended PS Social Commentator on WFXA 103.1 and The Touch 96.9 FM Radio Stations.163 in Rockaway Beach, Long Island, N.Y., Teddy Roosevelt and Evander Childs high schools in the Bronx, NY.
Smalls was very active during his school years. While being regarded by some as an academic underachiever, Smalls who was a C+ to B student was very active in extracurricular activities such as music and athletics. In the first grade young Smalls was introduced to music and was given a lead role in an operetta as Cupid. Young Smalls had to sing and dance during the musical. The Operetta launched Smalls’ growth in music. During his elementary years young Smalls did show sparks of excellence in academics by competing and sometimes winning spelling bees. Young Smalls also played on the elementary school’s basketball team. He was honored with the perfect attendance award often during his elementary and junior high school years.
Being reared by a “God-fearing, spare not the rod” Grandmother, young Smalls found himself in church every Sunday. As a very young child, Smalls attended Mt. Harris Missionary Baptist Church in Aiken, SC where the Pastor was the Rev. Minion during those years. Smalls remembers sitting in church during those years when he was five or six years old. He also remembers his grandmother taking him out of church and whipping him on several occasions for misbehaving. Giving that Mt. Harris was a two-Sunday church at the time, Young Smalls’ grandmother decided to send him to church at Friendship Baptist Church in Aiken which was located only two blocks from their residence. Young Smalls was baptized at the age of seven by the Reverend N.L. Bush who was Pastor at the time. At Friendship, young Smalls participated every Sunday in Sunday school, sang on the John Phillips Choir and was a member of the church sponsored Boy Scout Troop 63. As he grew older, he participated in mostly all of the choirs and programs that the church had to offer.
As a teenager, young Smalls’ grandmother made it clear that his church activities came first. During his high school years, while being very active in his church activities, young Smalls found a way to not only keep his grades up, but he participated in Basketball, Track and Field, the Schofield Gospel Choir, and the Marching Band where he played Trumpet.
After graduation from high school young Smalls opted to take one of several scholarship offers in sports to start his college education at the University of South Carolina at Aiken. After two semesters at USCA, Smalls opted to receive a track scholarship at South Carolina State University in Orangeburg, SC where he majored in Business Administration and Accounting. After three semesters at State, young Smalls was drafted by the U.S. Army. Opting for the U.S. Air Force, he left college and enlisted. Smalls served in the 363rd Combat Support Group.
After his discharge from the U.S. Air Force, Smalls worked for Graniteville Company and attended Phillips College to complete his academic goals.
In 1975, Smalls found employment with E.I. Dupont de Nemours at the Savannah River Plant, which was known by many as the "Bomb Plant.” Smalls worked at SRP for twenty years.
In 1994 Smalls answered a call to the Ministry of the Gospel. He was licensed in the Storm Branch Association by the Reverend Alf Mills, Sr. and the Friendship African Baptist Church in Aiken, SC. After his licensing, Min. Smalls sat under the guidance and tutelage of the Rev. Dr. Alexander Pope, Jr. and the First Providence Missionary Baptist Church where Smalls previously served as Minister of Music. In 1995, Min. Smalls was ordained by the Mt. Canaan Association in Trenton, SC.
Rev. Smalls took an early retirement package from SRP and gained employment with Kimberly-Clark Corporation in Beech Island, SC as a help desk and computer training coordinator. Smalls worked for KC for four years.
In 1999, Rev. Smalls was called by Bell Grove Missionary Baptist Church in Aiken, SC. Since becoming Pastor, Bell Grove has experienced phenomenal progress in Spiritual growth, membership growth and the improvement of church facilities and property. Having less than twenty members in 1999, the church family has now grown to more than 150 members and continues to grow. Pastor Smalls believes that the real growth for Bell Grove has not started. He asserts that the church is being re-established for the growth of the north side of Aiken. Bell Grove is located approximately five miles north of Aiken city limits and the area is very rural. Plans for growth in this area are already underway. Rev. Smalls sees Bell Grove being prepared for the multitudes that will come with the rapid growth that is spreading to the north side of town.
Rev. Smalls has served the Aiken community all of his life. Realizing that he is a “Prophet without honor” to many, he continues to work very diligently for the betterment of others. Over the years he’s served the community in many ways from providing music service for numerouse weddings, conducting choirs for some of the areas largest churches, helping the elderly and mentoring the young.
Rev. Smalls has received many honors from many places and organizations for his service to others and work in the community. Since coming to Bell Grove he has led the church in establishing much needed ministries such as the Youth Department, Performing Arts, Health Ministry and Women’s ministry. In his continuous efforts to serve the community, in January 2001 Rev. Smalls founded the Metro Aiken Informer newspaper. The Informer is the first broadly distributed African-American publication of its kind in the history of Aiken County. Rev. Smalls plays organ and piano, and is also a songwriter with more than thirty published and recorded songs to his credit. He’s produced several gospel hits over the last fifteen years that have received national airplay including such selections as "You Can't Hide" by Rev. MC Adams and the New Exodus Mass Choir (1989), "Jesus Will Fix It" by Wisdom (1993) and "I Feel The Spirit" by the Bold Mass Choir (1995).
In keeping with his pattern of giving back to the community, Rev. Smalls currently manages WAAW Shout 94.7 FM radio station in Aiken, SC. Under the leadership of Rev. Smalls, 94.7 FM has become a major force in the CSRA with regards to Spiritual and social issues. Under Rev. Smalls' leadership, WAAW has partnered with many community service oriented groups by providing free airtime to promote worthy causes and initiatives that serve to the betterment of the communities in the CSRA.
By the Grace of a wonderful "God of Another Chance", Rev. Smalls and Mrs.Gwendolyn Lorraine Smalls were brought together in Holy Matrimony in 1999. Together they are the proud parents of six children. Rev. Smalls: two daughters, A. Marcelle and Kimberly and a son, Jeffrey. Gwendolyn has three daughters: Kimberly, Deidre and Katrina. Rev. and Mrs. Smalls are committed partners in the Ministry of the Gospel through Jesus Christ with Sis. Smalls co-hosting Church Matters, a weekly radio program aired on WAAW 94.7 FM on Fridays at 10 AM.
As Pastor, Rev Smalls seeks to serve God effectively as he "watches over the flock of God." One of his many favorite scriptures is "Romans 8:28," And we know all things good or bad come together for the good for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose."