The Crusader Newspaper Group

Judge Stanley Hill remembers Mother Arnetter Smith

Mother Arnetter Smith. (Photo by Mark Joseph)

Allen and Marcus, I last saw your mom, Mother Arnetter Smith, shortly before July 29, 2023, before I penned an article about her that appeared that day in the Chicago Crusader newspaper.

I asked my friend photographer Mark Joseph to photograph her for the article.  He photographed her standing outside Morning Star Baptist Church at the southwest corner of the building on its south wall, where the original exterior brick structure of the building is clearly exposed.

We tried to juxtapose in the photograph the image of Mother Smith’s amazing ability and strength to withstand adversity and bounce back from difficult events in her long and storied 102 years of life, with Morning Star’s remarkable 106 years of institutional resilience. Combining images of the sturdiness of these two centenarians in a single photograph, it was our hope to produce an eye-catching and thought-provoking portrayal of enduring biblical faith.

It was a very windy day. Mother Smith’s hair was windblown, and she insisted we first get a comb to pull her hair back to keep it from blowing around. She wasn’t going to let Mark take her photo with her hair untidy.

With her walker adjusted to her height, she stood there firmly holding on to her Holy Bible opened to Matthew 22:36-39 as the wind whirled around the corner of the building almost causing her to lose her balance and fall. But she didn’t.

Mark took several photos until he obtained the shot he was satisfied with. During this blustery, windy, threatening rain photo session, while scanning Mother Smith’s face, you could see signs of God’s presence.

Such tenderness and sweetness of manner. She had known much suffering, we surmised, but had only been purified by it, never losing hold of the hands of God, thankful for her blessings and never complaining. An intense and undeniable wave of love and recognition of God’s presence appeared while in her presence as we looked into her face.

During the session, while speaking with her, you could hear God in her voice, in her smile, in her humility. We were touched by her kindness and filled with awe, for in her presence we experienced some part of God in action. By her tenderness and sweetness of manner, there was an intense and undeniable feeling of the presence of God.

“Thou shall love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” This is the First and Great Commandment. And the Second is: “Thou shall love thy neighbor as thyself.” (Matthew 22:36-39). This is the scripture she had open as she was photographed.

This is Mother Smith’s legacy. When we put our faith in the message of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we become empowered with the Holy Spirit and we shall be safe, regardless of how hard the winds of life are blowing.

You have got to believe God is in charge. Jesus did not promise His followers a life free from trials and tribulations. No, Jesus said, “In this world you have tribulations, but be of good cheer. I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33).

The raging winds are necessary for our encounters with Jesus in order for our faith and understanding to grow.

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trial of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4)

Allen and Marcus, your mom and my mom, Mother Louise Lane, served together as Mothers on Morning Star Baptist Church’s Mother’s Board. I lost my mother August 26, 2010, four months before I was sworn in as a Cook County Circuit Court judge.

I personally knew and loved your mother. Knowing your mom and mine, they would want us to know, to not weep for them, they have departed to take their rest. They know we loved them dearly but our Heavenly Father loved them best. He has taken them from a life of suffering to a place where they will have no more pain and with hope, we’ll be reunited again. They would want us to be strong and to live for Jesus and take heed to His words to live Holy and love one another.

Do not sorrow at your mother’s Homegoing for our Heavenly Father knows what is best. Mother Arnetter Smith has finished her earthly assignments and is now taking her rest.

May you and bereaved family and friends derive some measure of comfort in the knowledge that we share with you your grief. Blessings and love, Judge Stanley Louis Hill, Sr., and my wife, Edith.

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