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Church mothers act as moral guides, leaders

Mothers Day 2009

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POSTED: May 11, 2009 11:31 a.m.
Photo by Frenchi Jones/

A painting gives an idea of the demeanor of church mothers.

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Eurlee Steadman’s voice reverberates off the walls of an empty congregation hall.
Wearing her usual Sunday attire, a broad-brimmed white hat and matching ensemble, she chuckles as she discusses what it takes to be a mother of tremendous proportion.
“I would say we have about 200 children,” Steadman, 63, said. “And we love them all.”
Steadman and Veronica Denson, 64, act as “church mothers.”  
They and about 10 other women sit on the church mothers’ board at Full Gospel Tabernacle Church in Hinesville.
They are responsible for stewarding of the church’s community.
“Our No. 1 job is the pastor, praying for him and guiding him,” Steadman said. “Our No. 2 job is to be available to all the auxiliary heads.”
Their No. 3 job, Steadman said, includes almost everything else,
just like most mothers today. 
“We don’t just bake pies and cakes,” Steadman said. “Every two Sundays, a group of mothers is responsible for welcoming newcomers. It is also our job to walk beside the younger women of the church, leading them and guiding them to be good women, wives and mothers.”
Church mothers are mostly found in African-American churches and the title is usually given to women 50 years or older. 
“You don’t get to say you want to be a church mother,” Steadman said. “You have to be offered the position, usually by the pastor, and it’s not a position where you can be voted in or out. Once the title of church mother has been given to you, you get to keep that position until you die.”
But Donald Lovette of Love-It Productions, whose Mothers Day play features a neighborhood mother the young people in her community do not respect, fears that as the church mothers of today get older and pass away, the tradition might die along with them.
“It’s the changing time,” Lovette said. “Everybody wants to stay young. The younger mothers, not having experiencing that [position of leadership], do not automatically acclimate to that position.”
Denson, who admitted that she, in her younger days, did not aspire to be a church mother, agrees.
“I don’t think that we get the respect that the old church mothers used to get,” she said.  
“The young people don’t understand that we’re not here to bash them,” Steadman added. “What we’re really trying to do is say, ‘Look, down the road a bad decision could reflect on your character,’ … and even though you are in the church, you might be going through problems with your marriage, with your children or with your finances.
“We’re here to give them advice and be there for them in the time of crisis,” Steadman said.
Just like any mother should be, Denson said.
“Love your children, nurture them and let them know that there is nothing that you, them and God can’t handle.”

 

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