Each church has their own version of their Church Lady, I’m quite certain.
Church Ladies are always in attendance at church — rain, snow, sleet or shine. They arrive early wearing their Sunday best.
They can always be found at each church function with an appropriate dish that many will partake. Church Ladies teach each and every level of Sunday School. They know each and every Sunday School song. My favorite was, “Stop! And let me tell you …” because it had a stop sign on a paint stick. It was a great day when I got to hold that sign in Sunday School.
It’s those classic Sunday School songs you just don’t forget later in life because Church Ladies make you sing them over and over for years to come until you are old enough for “real” church.
I can still sing the New Testament books in order thanks to my Church Ladies. The Old Testament just never quite stuck.
A Church Lady serves as the church’s unofficial, yet totally official, congregational greeters. If a newcomer arrives, she is the first to zero in on the visitor, introduce herself and thank them for coming. A Church Lady always closes with a warm invitation to return.
When a Church Lady says, “It’s so nice you came!” she truly means it.
When a Church Lady says, “We are so glad you are here!” she truly means it.
And when a Church Lady says, “I’ll be praying for you!” you feel it deep in your heart that she will pray each and every day until she is certain that prayer has been answered.
It’s the Church Lady way.
A Church Lady will invite any and all neighborhood children to the annual Vacation Bible School. She makes sure each child who wants to attend is shuttled from home to church and back again.
A Church Lady will stand outside of the church corralling the children in line to march into the sanctuary that was magically transformed into another world (with some play on the pun of “Son”) seemingly overnight. Every Hydrox cookie will be in place. Every Styrofoam cup shall overflow with church punch. Think of the parable with the fishes and loaves and that’s what a Church Lady does at Bible School with cookies and punch for the week.
A Church Lady will spend weeks preparing for Vacation Bible School. She uses her own precious vacation time off of work to devote her time and giving spirit to the week of activities.
Each Church Lady knows her Biblical stories backwards and forwards. There’s no need for fancy technology. They can use that same light blue felt board and Velcro Jesus that was used when they were in Bible School. Their felt board and storytelling skills are so fluid there is no need for animation.
It’s the Church Lady way.
I have been blessed with many wonderful Church Ladies in my life, but I was lucky enough to have two special Church Ladies.
Penny and Tessie were my teachers at Vacation Bible School and Sunday School. Later on, they would have Evan at Bible School and Sunday School from time to time.
The Maxson sisters were my Church Ladies.
They’d dress to the nines for each Sunday service. In fact, Easter and Christmas, they’d kick it up a notch with a classic hat or special outfit.
The Maxson sisters were the “sound” of my church. If they happened to take a rare Sunday off visiting family, church just didn’t sound the same. Boy, could they harmonize. If one was off-key, the whole church was off-key. Their special music was always the highlight of a service.
I’ll have their rendition of “Household of Faith” ingrained in my memory forever. No one will ever sing it like they could.
When I heard of Penny’s passing this week, the first thing I thought of was: Lena Baptist Church will never sound the same again. I had the same thought when her sister Tessie had passed nearly a year ago as well.
They will be truly missed.
So this Sunday, I’d like to ask you to take a minute and thank those special Church Ladies in your own congregation.
You won’t know how much they are missed until they are called home to finally rest now that their work here on Earth is done.
“Twin” Melanie Yingst appears weekly in the Troy Daily News.