KENOVA, W.Va. (WCHS/WVAH) — West Virginia native Michael W. Smith performed his song "Friends" at George H.W. Bush’s funeral service at Washington National Cathedral.
On Wednesday, the message of the song “Friends” was heard 400 miles away in Smith's home town, Kenova.
"That song he sang today was ‘Friends.’ It was very appropriate because Mike has always been a friend to us,” Jack Ferguson said.
Ferguson watched Smith grow up, as a friend, next door neighbor and Sunday school teacher. Smith has gone on to achieve great success as a multi-platinum, Christian and contemporary artist with three Grammy awards.
“Mike was just an average boy. He tried a lot of things and learn to play the drums, guitar and piano, I never quite expected to have a person of celebrity status like Mike, but we're very glad of that,” Ferguson said.
Smith also was in the choir at the First Baptist Church of Kenova, a choir he still returns to join.
"When Mike comes to town, our entire congregation comes out to celebrate what God has done here. We never cease to be amazed by what God does through Michael and the connections that he's made over the years,” said Steve Willis, lead pastor of First Baptist Church.
One connection was clearly seen Wednesday as Smith honored the 41st president.
Smith became friends with Bush following a White House Christmas performance for the president in 1989, and the two remained close over the years.
Following Bush's passing, he shared a photo to Instagram, saying, "Friends are friends forever." The same words he sang Wednesday.
"To be a boy from a small town like Kenova, he has represented us very well and I think he reflects the values of our community, that's the message I get and the message he sends to the world,” Ferguson said.
Ferguson said the church is packed every time Smith comes back to Kenova.