Lillie Pearl Taylor, 92, graduated with a bachelor’s in Christian Education degree and was also issued an Honorary Doctor of Divinity diploma from Trinity Temple College of Religion. The ceremony was held June 19, at St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church.
Reverend Dr. Lucile W. Smiley-Bomar of Trinity Missionary Baptist Temple Church said Dr. Alvin Jackson of St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church allowed them to use his facility to hold classes and ZOOM meetings and conduct their curriculum.
Trinity Missionary Baptist Temple Church burned down in June 2019 after the roof was hit by lightning and caught fire. This past March they started work on rebuilding their church.
Smiley-Bomar said Taylor was one of several students that were graduating, but she was the oldest at 92.
“She turns 93 in July,” she said.
Smiley-Bomar said their school’s curriculum is based primarily on the word of God and the work of Jesus Christ without any emphasis on denomination. She said the course offers an accredited Christian Education program that helps the graduates better serve their community and their churches and calling it a broad-based study on Christianity.
Smiley-Bomar said, Taylor held her own and completed the course with a 99-percent out of 100.
“She is a woman of God. It’s just a blessing and God laid it on my heart to honor her,” she said about also giving her an honorary doctorate.
“She studied hard and she worked hard,” Smiley-Bomar added. “She’s earned every point she has received.”
An elated Taylor, who is also a Pastor said receiving her degree was an additional way to serve God.
“When I came to the Lord, the Lord gave me a ministry and I’ve always had a desire to learn more about the Lord,” she said. “I was called to being a Pastor and I wanted a deeper knowledge of the word of God. That I might be able to serve our pastor and do more teaching.”
She formerly worked at a nursing home caring for the elderly. She said she appreciated being around folks of all ages and said the studies were at times stressful but completely rewarding.
“I believe that whenever you pray the Lord giveth the desires of your heart,” Taylor said. “He always promises to be with you and He has always put great people in my life. I love the word of God and study the word of God. No matter how old you are, you can do it. Don’t let anybody tell you what you can’t do.”
It took her one year to complete and she only missed one class due to a funeral.
“I had to preach a funeral at my church,” she said.
Offering words of encouragement to her fellow classmates and future students Taylor said people should reach for the stars. “But my word of encouragement goes a little bit farther,” she said. “Reach for the One who created the stars.”
After giving her brief speech Taylor did a little celebration dance and joined her fellow classmates. Later in the ceremony she was adorned with a new robe worn by those who have achieved a Doctorate degree.