EUSTACE — It looks like the First Baptist Church is going to make a big deal out of Betty Reeve and some of her gang this weekend.
They could do worse. A whole lot worse, it seems.
While she’s not the oldest member of a church that’s been around a day or two, she’s been a member longer than anyone else.
First Baptist Eustace is celebrating 100 years of existence Saturday and Sunday. Now, we’re talking about starting a church back in the William Howard Taft administration.
Betty’s only been there for 76 years of it, though.
Come to think of it, she was there in time to endure the days of the Great Depression.
She got baptized by Brother Williford out in Charlie Green’s stock tank as a 10-year-old. The preacher was Betty’s uncle. In those days, her mom played the piano, and dad led the singin’.
She even got married in the church’s parsonage by Brother Gordon Woods. Betty’s 86 now, and still a much-valued member.
If you want to meet and greet the oldest member of the church, though, you’ll have to meet up with Eugenie Morton. She’s a hundred, still spry, and has kids who take her to church every Sunday.
Kayleah Fontenot is still learning her way around. She’s 11, and getting started almost as young as Betty was when she was baptized. She’ll be recognized as the church’s newest member, and her little sis, Miranda Fontenot, 8, will be recognized as the youngest baptized member.
The more mature members can show these siblings the ropes during their next 100 years.
Betty’s son, Robert, leads music, is a deacon and teaches Sunday Class at Fellowship Baptist. Her daughter Kathy Sutton has taught Sunday school class for the last 39 years.
As for Betty, she now plays the piano for the assisted-living home on Sundays. She used to play at the church, often by ear.
Another big deal this weekend at First Baptist, Eustace is Bonnie Seabourne, who will be 90 in November. She’s a transfer member.
She came along in the year 1954. So she has 56 years of membership in the church, dating back to the Eisenhower years and black-and-white television.
Betty, of course, was the first church member to visit Bonnie, four years her senior.
According to church records, Bonnie moved to the area on a Saturday, and Sunday. She attended church the same weekend, bought a farm north of town, and lived there for 27 years.
Bonnie was baptized at age 11, meaning she’s been a Baptist Church member for the last 78 years, or two years longer than Betty.
Don’t get the idea they’re rivals, though. They’ve been doing church work together for 70 years. They love each other, and everybody they’ve ever met at the church, including all the pastors.
Not one stinker in the bunch in 76 years. How many churches can say the same?
All may help to explain why church members are making a big deal out of both Betty and Bonnie this weekend.
“If anyone is looking for a good church home, we welcome them to First Baptist Church, Eustace,” Betty has been quoted as saying.
She and Bonnie, as a matter of fact, taught Bible School and Sunday School together for 70 years, which would predate Pearl Harbor.
Bonnie’s husband and son are both ordained as deacons.
They’ll also make a big deal out of Cotton Walker this weekend. He’s a relative newcomer, having shown up in 1972. He’s only 72 years-old himself.
But Cotton is a big deal to his fellow church people, because he helped lead the way for the current church building. It took 12 years of planning before building could begin.
Cotton was also chairman of the fundraising drive for the church’s Family Life Center. He and his wife, Willa, taught the youth, and led music on occasion.
He’s still a member after 38 years. His memories of joining a little church with not-so-good facilities, and watching it grow to what it is today, is a big deal to Cotton, and everyone else in this church.
They’re not bragging. They’re not boastful. But this is their special time, and at First Baptist Church, Eustace, everyone is a big deal, and you’re invited to be one, too.
But Betty could have told you that all along.