BATES CITY – A pot-belly stove was the first opportunity for Delores Turner, member of Concord Baptist Church near Bates City, to serve Christ when she was only ten.
“My sister and I would walk to church,” Turner said, “and we would be the first to arrive. So, we always got some coal and fired up the stove so that it would be warm when the others would arrive.”
With her history of service, it was not surprising that she became the volunteer church clerk in 1973. She worked to keep the church up to date until COVID-19 prevented her from being at the church to take minutes at meetings.
“Her commitment is remarkable,” Bill Olinger, pastor, said. “She is committed to the church, and she is our historian. Last year, the church celebrated 177 years and Delores has been committed to tracking down information about what happened in the past.”
Turner is still making copies and keeping information organized for the church. “When I took this over,” Turner said, “I had a little dab of this and that, so I needed to make up the books. I needed to get everything up-to-date.”
Pastor Olinger agreed that Turner needed to straighten some things out. “As all churches,” he said, “we’ve had some ups and downs. But Delores had the stick-to-it attitude to keep the church moving forward. That has always been important to her.”
Olinger said her business background aided her ability to do the job. “She was in insurance,” he continued, “I respect that she has been capable, willing, and able.”
Turner shared a busy life. “I retired from Aetna,” she shared. “I did underwriting work for commercial insurance. I joined from another company because I could see an opportunity to move up.”
Turner has been a widow for 28 years. “When we first were starting out,” she said, “we purchased 40 acres and we raised four children. Recently, my fifth great, great grandchild was born. I love having photos on my computer.”
Turner is still working to track down the history of the church. “We may be as old as 190 years,” she explained. “however, we haven’t located anything in writing. Land was donated to the church during the Civil War and we have also heard about the log church being moved by oxen. We’ve only celebrated the 178 years that we have written records. I’ve seen many pastors and missionaries pass through the church.”
During the Civil War, two acres were also donated to the cemetery. Turner continues as the chairperson for that committee. “I still have contacts with the community as I research and plan in this position,” she laughed.