Church ladies epitome of love

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 11, 2014

In our neck of the woods, they are easy to find: Dressed in their Sunday best, purses dangling from their Bible-laden arms, walking with a swagger of God-confidence — the church ladies.

You know who and what I am talking about, women who know beyond a shadow of a doubt (there is no doubt whatsoever in their minds) that God is alive and real in their lives and in the lives of their loved ones. Comedian Dana Carvey’s hysterical caricature of “the Church Lady” on “Saturday Night Live” made us laugh from the amusement of his antics, but also from the familiarity. We have seen ladies of the church who let us know that if we didn’t straighten up our path and mend our wicked ways, we would surely be doomed to hell.

The fear of eternal damnation and the judgment often rendered, made me try to steer clear of the proverbial church lady. But, thankfully, those are not the people I am hastily writing about today. Yes, Dana made us laugh, and yes, there have been some church ladies who are unpleasant to be around, but thankfully, growing up in our church, these ladies are the heartbeat of everything our church stands for and is.

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They have created, cultivated and implemented their beliefs into the very souls of many young people as they have spiritually grown at the small, stained glass and redbrick church called Coal Grove Memorial.

My lips curve upward into a huge smile every time a name is recollected. With each recollection comes an even greater memory of strength, love and survival. Our church ladies have oftentimes gone through, together, various losses in life: divorce, death of spouses and even the deaths of beloved children. However, their faith is unscathed. Pastors have come and gone, memberships have grown and also gone through periods of decline, the roof has leaked, been fixed, been replaced and leaked again — and their faith is unscathed.

The church has argued over new policies, new ways of worship, new praise music, new whatever, and these ladies stand spiritually sound over and over and over life’s issues and mishaps. How do they do it I often ask myself? I do not have “their kind” of faith. I am not as sound spiritually as they are. I went away to college, and some might say it changed me. Divorce changed me. Gossip changed me. Life changed me. But one thing never changed: the sincerity of love I feel for each of our church ladies.

I can’t begin to name one, because I would have to name them all — and that would take a book. Maybe in retirement one day, I will take the time to do so, to pass on the names and stories so my girls and their girls will know our church ladies saved their mother, their grandmother with their love, not their judgment. I strive to be like you, ladies, but I often fail. However, it does not keep me from seeking that faith and growing spiritually to become a church lady, myself.

Whether you have been or are a biological mother; you have been a mother to CG Memorial’s children. You have taught us to sing songs, to dance, to act in numerous nativity scenes that sometimes went without mishap, to love beyond other’s faults, to commit to relationships even during times when we don’t feel like being committed, to offer Band-Aids and kisses to hurt knees and also hurt hearts, and to show Christ’s love even when our actions have proved us unlovable. I want to be like you.

Today is a day to reflect on mothers. I have the epitome of motherhood as my mom and I also want to be a grandmother just like my own grandmothers were to me — so I have been extremely blessed. But God chose to bless me and others even more with the church ladies of Coal Grove. I love you, ladies. Thank you, and Happy Mother’s Day.


Tomi Blankenship, counselor and associate director at Collins Career Center. In honor of Eileen Higgins, beloved grandmother and news reporter of The Ironton Tribune for many years. You can email Tomi at