A fixture of most churches is a musician playing a piano off to the side just about every Sunday as the congregation and choir sing praises to God.
For many churches, the person in that position and playing those hymns often changes from year to year. For First Baptist Church of Ludowici, however, that hasn’t been that case for decades.
Wanda Swindell, or “Ms. Wanda” as most people call her, has held that seat at the Long County church for 50 years. She was just a teen when she began playing, and as the years have passed, she and her husband, Gary, have seen their children grow up and start their own families. Under Wanda’s watchful, supportive eye, many of her children and grandchildren also have gone into the music ministry. At the church where she still serves, her son, Phil, leads the music as Wanda strikes her keyboard every Sunday.
Ms. Wanda is loved by all at the church, but probably no one appreciates her service more than the Rev. Eric Rentz.
“I am so proud of her,” Rentz said. “She has been serving me faithfully for 10 years, and I hope she has another 50 years of service at our church.”
Her service to the church is special, but in a day when most are looking to be paid for every little thing they do, Swindell has served without once seeking compensation.
On Nov. 23, church members showed their appreciation for Ms. Wanda by giving her an engraved plaque recognizing her service and also taking up a love offering. Though the day was special, Swindell said she felt that she was the one who was blessed to have been given the opportunity to play for the church and her savior, Jesus Christ.
“I am so grateful that God has allowed me the opportunity to play for so many years. I thank Him and give Him the glory,” she said.