‘Mama Carrie:’ Church honors 101 year-old member
By Rebecca Rider
SALISBURY — They call Carrie Bell Hawkins the mother of the church.
“She’s not our biological mother,” member Dorothy Barnette said. “She’s just like a mother to us. She mothers us like a hen with her chickens.”
Barnette said the congregation affectionately refers to her as “Mama Carrie.” At 101, Hawkins is the oldest member of Henderson Grove Baptist Church, and she still makes it to services and events in a white suit and heels. She’s been going to Henderson Grove for most of her life, and Saturday, the church chose to honor her.
Barnette and other members of the congregation set apart a small moment during a “Women of the Bible” conference Saturday morning to thank Hawkins for her service and to show their appreciation. Special guests East Spencer Mayor Barbara Mallet and Salisbury Mayor Karen Alexander spoke about Hawkins’ dedication to the church and the community.
“You are one of the bright threads in the tapestry of our community,” Alexander said.
Alexander presented Hawkins with a letter of appreciation, and Mallet presented her with an honorary plaque.
Hawkins has inspired many during her life, and has served the church tirelessly, teaching Sunday school, singing in the choir and working as a church missionary. Hawkins said she loves the church, pure and simple.
“It has blessed me down through the years, up until this present time,” she said.
These days, she’s surrounded by family — grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great nieces and nephews.
Family members said Hawkins, who turns 102 in December, is still living independently and cooks her own meals each day.
“I’m sure if it was left up to her she’d still be driving,” Joanne Huntley said.
Huntley added that Hawkins prefers to take the stairs and likes to tell people that the elevator is too slow for her.
Hawkins has no need of a cane or walker, and great-nephew Brad Mobley said her sense of humor is just as sharp as ever.
“I think that’s one of the things that’s kept her going,” he said.
It’s that humor and her sweetness that win people over. Burnette said she’s known as a soft-spoken, wise lady.
“She’s an angel in disguise,” relative Edna Smith said.
“When I need to talk to someone, if I need some advice, I go to Mama Carrie,” relative Faye Brown said.
To the people of Henderson Grove Baptist, Hawkins is irreplaceable.
“I just can’t say enough about her,” Barnette said, “Because she just kind of looks over us and we look to her for wisdom.”
Contact reporter Rebecca Rider at 704-797-4264.