Consider it a testament to faithfulness.
Elizabeth "Betty" McMullen, 95, was honored at a 10 a.m. service Sunday, June 23, at Calvary United Methodist Church in Newcomerstown, recognizing her having attended the church, and only that church, for 93 of her 95 years. While currently in a care center, she has been a faithful member of the church for all that time.
A lifelong resident of Newcomerstown, Betty was the daughter of Gertrude and John Wilson, with John owning a barber shop on Main Street in Newcomerstown for many years. She has two sisters, Mabel Little, of Newcomerstown and Esther Buehler, of Sparks, Nevada. She and her late husband, Denver McMullen, had one son, Robert McMullen, and there are four grandchildren, Michelle (McMullen) Dallacheisa, Lori (McMullen) Bassett, John McMullen and Kevin McMullen; and 11 great-grandchildren.
Growing up, her family never owned an automobile so the family would always walk to church.
"We were always there," Betty said. "I remember the revivals and my sisters and I (known as the Wilson Trio) would play music at church often." Betty said the revivals would last two weeks. She also remembered the boys would sit in the balcony during church services "and shoot paper wads down at the congregation." She also recalled the Christmas programs at the church and "how good they always were."
Betty enjoyed playing the piano for the services and said she also enjoyed being the secretary of the church. She also helped out with many other positions in the church, was active in the women’s ministry as well and was always baking or preparing meals for others.
The way Betty remembers, "It (going to church) was never a choice. We knew what was expected of us and we just went. I visited other churches but Calvary was home. I was always there from the very beginning. There were times I would get discouraged but I knew the pastor wasn’t the one who made the church, it was the people and that’s what made me stay all those years."
Lori Bassett, one of the grandchildren, said, "Grandma faithfully went to church, taking the grandkids whenever she could. She always made sure we got to go to Vacation Bible School. She prayed for us every day and I think her prayers and interceding on our behalf are what brought us to follow Christ.
"Grandma was a little spitfire but she was so very sweet and so willing to serve others. She was known as the grandma in her combat boots and apron! She was always baking and preparing meals for others (this example has been followed by both her granddaughters). She was also known for her dry sense of humor. She would always catch you off guard by her wit and humor which made it even funnier!"
Eric Miller, the current pastor at Calvary United Methodist Church, is now in his 10th year at the church and said he remembers the first time he met and had a conversation with Betty.
"Shortly after I had been appointed to the Calvary Charge, I asked Betty what she thought the church needed to remain vital and to grow in Spirit; her answer was with her trademark smile and short, she said, ‘Make sure the church is a family, that is the most important thing to do,’" he said. "I then asked Betty what she thought I as the pastor could and should do to make that happen; she said, ‘Preach what God tells you to preach and my goodness, love everyone.’ I quickly learned that this was Betty’s outlook on life, ‘Be and do good, and love everyone.’ I personally believe that Betty has never felt hate or lasting anger towards anyone. I also quickly learned that Betty is a very humble person, not wanting any, as she says, ‘Big to dos’ on her behalf. She wants all glory and praise to go to God above.
"As the pastor here at Calvary I have been blessed to have learned something and continue to learn from everyone here to allow me to grow in my own ministry, and to know what is important for the good of the Kingdom, and I can truly say that Betty has in fact taught me just how important it is to love everyone, and that if you just come to church to say you have come to church, you are coming for the wrong reason, you should be here because you need to be here, and the church family needs you to be here because we can learn so much from each other.
"Betty is 95 years old and has had to have some back problems dealt with requiring some surgery. I will never forget this time that Betty went through, due to her attitude throughout the entire time. I went to visit her at the hospital on one occasion shortly after the surgery and I was expecting to find Betty in a great deal of pain and to maybe even be a bit depressed. Shame on me for anticipating that because that is not at all what I found. Betty greeted me with a smile, and before I could even ask how she was she was asking me how I was doing, how my family was doing, and how is everyone at Calvary doing. When I finally did get the opportunity to ask how she was doing her answer was, ‘It hurts a little, but there are people far worse off than me, and after all, I have God on my side.’
"Putting the fact that I am a pastor aside for a moment and being a human being just like all my brothers and sisters, it sure would be nice if this world had a few more Betty McMullen’s in it, people would sure smile a lot more. Betty is a true inspiration to us all."
And while every life has its ups and downs, the family says Betty has always stayed true to her faith. She faithfully read her Bible and attended church every Sunday along with Bible Study and Sunday School. Family members said she may have been a woman of few words but her actions spoke louder than her words.
Lori recalls that one time when she was a little girl they were on a Sunday drive out in the countryside with the family and "Grandma was talking about Heaven and Hell. I told grandma I didn’t want to go to Heaven when I died, I wanted to go to Grandma’s house! That’s the kind of loving Christian home Grandma provided."