The Mother Board, Maintaining Tradition in the Black Church

From Left to right, front row: Mrs. Gustava Wilson, Mrs. Alberta Roary; Back row – Mrs. Eva Judson, Mrs. Ruby Gaines, Mrs. Rodessa Battle and Mrs. Jean Harris. Photo by Frank Gundry.

By Felecia Gaston, Marin City resident Every first Sunday of the month, the wise elderly women, members of the First Missionary Baptist Church in Marin City, proudly sit in the second pew, impeccably dressed in all white from head to toe. These women remind me of my grandmother, Bigmama, and other elderly women when as a little girl I attended Pine Street Baptist Church in Marietta, Georgia and Old Mountain Top in Winston Georgia. The Mother Board proudly represents a tradition found in many Black churches across the United States, especially in the Deep South.  These elderly women are a   source of love, strength and stability for the Black family and religion. The Mother Board is made up of praying women who impart their wisdom to others.  They have a strong belief in serving as role models to the younger generation. They are highly respected women in the family, church and community. Some of the duties of the Mother Board are to help set up the communion table once a month, serve as missionaries and outreach to the people who are not involved in daily church activities. They impart wisdom and prayers that are so much needed in these turbulent and trying times.  Not to mention, they are the best cooks of homemade soul food that nurtures the body and mind. I have gained so much wisdom from my grandmother, Bigmama, and these elderly women.  The Bible Scripture reads in Hebrew 11:2, “For by faith, the elders obtained a good reputation.” As we look to the future, I wonder if this tradition will be passed on to the next generation of young adult women. It is so important that we continue to honor and respect our elders who have persevered over the years with the spirit of hard work, faith and courage. When you feel depressed, hurt, lonely, lost of faith, down and out, remember to go to the church mothers, who will impart great prayer and counsel in need.
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