Photo by Jim Massara
Bethel Baptist matriarchs Dorothy Campbell (standing), Ollie Hand and Amy Corley will celebrate Mother’s Day this Sunday. All three are more than 90 years old.
These mothers may have lost a step or two. Their hearing and eyesight isn’t what it used to be. They’ve been around a long time, as has their place of worship, Bethel Baptist Church in Jonesboro.
This Sunday they’ll celebrate Mother’s Day — and their longevity — together.
Longtime church members Dorothy Campbell, 95; Ollie Hand, 94; and Amy Corley, 91, will be guests of honor at Bethel Baptist’s 11 a.m. service.
“Here’s where an old historic church and its disciples grew old together,” Pastor Larry Burns said of the three women.
Together, the women have borne 11 children, who in turn have produced dozens of grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren. Some of those offspring grew up at Bethel Baptist, too, one of the oldest active churches in Clayton County.
The three women have been mothers to other church members, as well. “She (Hand) kept me in the nursery at this church,” said church secretary and lifelong member Cornelia Morris.
Hand has belonged to Bethel Baptist her entire life, and even attended the school that used to stand across Flint River Road from the church. Campbell and Corley, by comparison, are junior members — Lucille joined in 1977, and Amy joined in 1988.
The three women remain active, and Ollie even traveled with seniors from Bethel Baptist to Pigeon Forge, Tenn., last November. (“Looking for a mountain man,” Morris explained, smiling.) The three also attend almost every service, although Campbell, who broke her hip three years ago, relies on a walker and skips church when the weather makes moving difficult.
Will they all be there this Sunday? “I hope so!” Campbell said, emphatically.