Mothers and the Church, part 2

Mothers and the Church, part 2

Today’s blog continues our short series on mothers of the church. We share stories of mothers along our faith journey–women and mothers in our church family who helped shape the faith of their own children or others around them.

Also, in honor of our 130th year of ministry in Dunn, we have collected stories and memories of women whose legacy and influence of faith continues through the ministry and work of our church family.  We wanted to share these stories with our church family in our gratitude for all they contributed to strengthen our faith in God.

Today we share the words of Ben Justesen & Beth VanNortwick, children of Elizabeth “Lib” Massengill Justesen.

Mother’s fried chicken and potato salad symbolize my childhood at Hood Memorial.  They were legendary attractions at church potluck lunches and dinners—the kind we had at least once a month back then in the fellowship hall—and Beth, Wayne Jr., and I would elbow our way  to the front of the line to make sure no one else got to her dishes before we did.  Lib was a gifted cook—specializing in plain, delicious Southern cuisine—and nothing was more depressing for us than being late to that line. 

Lib grew up at Hood Memorial, joined the church in 1935, and was baptized in 1936; at her death in 2019, she had been a member for more than 82 years and was the longest-lived member of the church.  Besides being a legend, she was a legacy—the oldest granddaughter of early church leaders Preston Massengill and Elvira Wilson Massengill—and when she wasn’t teaching Sunday School, she was going to circle meetings, keeping the nursery, serving on the church board, serving as a deaconess, and making sure that we kids did as much as we could to fill out the family picture, all with a radiant smile. 

Our grandfather, Vernon Howell Massengill (1895-1929), was baptized the day Lib was born (July 3, 1922), just before Hood Memorial moved from its original building across Cumberland Street to its current location.  Our grandmother, Wilma Massengill (1901-1980), and great aunt Bessie Massengill (1905-1970) were also longtime members.  While Mother was not married in the church, it was only because the sanctuary was under renovation and not available in August 1943. She was married to Daddy by church pastor Dr. F. W. Wiegmann at her home nearby. And then she brought Daddy back to Hood Memorial after World War II, when they moved back to Dunn.

I never had my mother for Sunday School—somehow she engineered the schedule that way—but we were all still there for Sunday services like clockwork.  Lib and Wayne rarely missed Sunday services while the kids were growing up—in large part because they were so active in so many different capacities—and she once said my father was the only one who loved going more than she did.  Personally, I think it was in the water.  We all felt the same way. They taught us well—by example.

Even when she was frail during her final years and unable to get out regularly, she maintained a keen interest in church activities; she continued to attend church services periodically, whenever one of the kids was in town.  When she could not go, she listened faithfully to radio broadcasts on Sunday afternoons and read the weekly bulletin cover to cover.  Sometimes she even called up a friend and asked how the service went!

Lib left us in January, at age 96.  A memorial service was held for her in her beloved church on February 7, after which her ashes were interred at Daddy’s grave in Greenwood Cemetery.  We miss her kindness and loving, practical nurture, but her spirit remains in our hearts.

Reflection:  The church was important to Ms. Lib.  Think for a moment:

  • How is the church important to you?
  • What type of impact has the church had on your life?
  • Have there been important events, experiences, or times in your life that you have shared with the church?  What would those experiences have been like without a church family?
  • How has God spoken to you through your church family?  Have you shared that with anyone?

Miss Sunday’s sermon?  Read it here…Mother’s Day Reflections

This Week:

Tuesday, May 14, 9:00 am – 2:00 pm – Service opportunity at DUMA Food Pantry
Tuesday, May 14, 6:15 pm – Small Group
Wednesday, May 15, 1:30 pm – Prayer & Inspiration
Wednesday, May 15, no choir practice
Thursday, May 16, Jason WILL NOT be at The Cellar this week
Thursday, May 16, 3:00 pm – Ladles of Love, Meal preparation & delivery
Sunday, May 19, 11:00 am – Worship

Upcoming Events:
June 4, 9:00 -11:00 am Community Garden Workday
June 7, 7:30 pm First Movie Night of the Summer, Location TBA




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