By Henry Brown
Betty Buckner is a force of nature. To see her shuffle up to the front of the church behind her walker is incredible. But what she does next amazes the congregation at Beulah Baptist Church.
Betty sits behind the piano her 72 year old son and 69 year old daughter donated to the church and bangs those keys. At 92, Betty has been doing this for over seventy years.
“I started playing the piano here as a teenager but then the regular church pianist left, so they asked me to do it. I have hardly missed a Sunday since,” Betty said. “I think it is important to be here and the three ladies in my Sunday School class still love to hear me play.”
The 24 member congregation appreciates her faithfulness as well. They have given her 13 plaques for her service to the Lord. Head Deacon (and cousin) Bob Bennett said, “We keep thinking she is about ready to retire, but she won’t go.”
The church has seen its ups and downs through the years. Most young families go to other churches; many of them drive twenty miles or more to attend church. Beulah Baptist tried to reach them several times, but music has always been the problem.
“A few years ago we really started growing. A new preacher came and a new family joined. Their children played guitars and one even played drums. It was just too big a change for us. Betty’s children started attending regular again and pitched a fit.” Bob Bennett shrugged. “You just don’t need to change things that are working.”
“I tried to help those kids with music, but they played those new songs.” Betty shook her head. “There is noting like the hymns we all grew up with. Besides, all of our members are seventy and up.”
Bob Bennett admits there are some challenges. “Sometimes she doesn’t remember what song people call out, and she plays the wrong one. Truthfully, half the time we don’t know if she’s playing Amazing Grace or Beulah Land. But hey, it’s all about heaven anyway.”