BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - At 70 years old, just when most of us would be looking forward to slowing down, there's one lady in Baton Rouge who is doing anything but that.
Pastor Thelma Pearl of Disciples Outreach Ministry Church on Gore Road is hard to keep up with, according to her parishioners. One parishioner in particular, Ms. Sherlonda Rogers, called me in July about nominating Pastor Thelma for WAFB's Hand It On program.
"Tell me a little bit about your pastor," I asked Sherlonda.
"She's a very loving, caring and hard working person," Sherlonda explained. "She's always working at the church, at the prison, at hospitals, visiting and cooking for the sick and taking care of her own family."
"Even now she assists in caring for her very ill sister," Sherlonda continued. "Her husband passed away a couple of years ago after being married for 49 years, but even through all that and being 70 years old, she still presses on with all she does and preaches the Word of God every opportunity she gets."
Sherlonda spoke with fellow church members and it was agreed that we would surprise Pastor Thelma Pearl during worship service Sunday morning, Sept. 11. Sherlonda was going to make herself available at church that morning. I would put a microphone on Sherlonda and she would interrupt the service and do the Hand It On presentation.
When I arrived at Disciples Outreach Church that Sunday morning, a teary-eye Sherlonda met me at the back door, assisted by a person on each side. Earlier that week Sherlonda had taken a pretty bad fall while grocery shopping. She was in great pain and was not going to be able to stand to do the presentation. Sherlonda introduced me to Ms. Coleman who would do the honors in her place.
Church service had been going on about an hour and it was just about time for Pastor Thelma to deliver the message for the day when Ms. Coleman interrupted the service.
"God be the glory in this house," Ms. Coleman began. "They're here today because our sister, our minister in Christ, nominated our pastor for Hand It On. We all know who Pastor is in our lives and what she has done, not just for us, but for the community, for politicians, for family, for those that are in the nursing home, for those that are in the hospital.
"At 70 years old, she does some things a 25-year-old can't do," Ms. Coleman continued. "She ensures that we not only get the Word of God, but she knows every one of her sheep by name, and if you dare go astray trust me she's coming one-on-one to pull you back into the sheepfold. She feeds; she clothes. If you are a stranger and do not have a place to go, she'll even open her doors to you. And we can't, we won't say that about any other pastor. We know what ours does.
"She goes to everybody's house to ensure that everything is running properly," Ms. Coleman added. "She even councils those that are having issues in marriages and relationships. That entails that she is so deserving. The good thing about it is she doesn't ask any monetary profit from it at all. She seeks all of her resources from the Heavenly Father which is God."
"So today Pastor, we want to say you deserve the Hand It On," Ms. Coleman said presenting Thelma with the money. "So as I give you these $300, I know how you are; I know what you may do. But this is for you Pastor. For you personally. Not to give away, not to share, but it's for you to do what, and meet some of your needs. To God be the glory. Let's give our Pastor a round of applause."
The congregation erupted in joyous praise and applause and prayer.
"Thank you so much," Pastor Thelma Pearl addressed her flock. "I guess I'm feeling somewhat like Jesus; feeling so undeserving; so unworthy. Even at my best, I feel like I'm not doing enough. I ask the prayers of you that I will be an even greater servant; that my footsteps will lead you somewhere that's better than this place. God Bless you. You just made my day!"
To nominate someone for Hand It On, send an e-mail to HandItOn@WAFB.com. Make sure to include your contact information, especially your phone number.