Sue Whiddon, a longtime Harlem resident, was honored recently for more than a half-century of service to the physical and spiritual well-being of Harlem Baptist Church.
Whiddon, who turns 100 today, was the chairwoman of the original building fund committee that raised the money to build the Harlem Baptist sanctuary in the 1950s, the Rev. Philip Vestal said. The church celebrated Whiddon on Dec. 3 by naming its New Construction Fund in her honor.
Money collected from the Sue Whiddon New Construction Fund will finance the construction of a new family life center across Louisville Street from the sanctuary, Vestal said.
"It was a wonderful day," said Whiddon, who also is the Sunday school teacher for married couples.
"It was all a surprise to me," she said. "I had started this program when we were in the process of building the present church (more than) 50 years ago and it has lasted all that time."
The first Sunday in December has been the time of offering to the construction fund since its inception, Whiddon said. To this day, Whiddon remains the primary organizer and "champion" of that part of the service, Vestal said.
Every year, a golden-colored chest is brought to the alter of the sanctuary and families line up to give an offering, Whiddon said.
This year, though, was a little different. Vestal announced a resolution to name the fund in Whiddon's honor and the congregation unanimously agreed, Whiddon said.
"We honored her for her outstanding service and the wonderful example she has shown - not only personally being committed to our church but helping others," Vestal said.
"I got up and spoke scared to death because it was a secret to me," Whiddon said of the renaming.
"I was perfectly shocked when they started. I don't know how they kept it from me, (but) it was quite an honor," she said.
In addition to Whiddon's church family, the ceremony also included many of her friends from Thomson, Augusta and Atlanta, she said.
"For 55 years, that building has stood because of her and so many others," Vestal said, "but she has led the way.
"(Through the years she has) helped us celebrate our heritage and also plan for the future with a vision for tomorrow, especially as it pertains to facilities."
Whiddon's Sunday school class presented her a poinsettia and also donated their offering in her name, Vestal said.
"We're blessed to have her as part of our church and I think Harlem is blessed to have her as part of this great community," Vestal said.
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