By Jackie Hampton,
“The loss of a faithful member sends a storm of grief throughout the church membership. However, when three seasoned and saintly women depart this life within days of each other, that storm of grief has developed into a tsunami of grief, unreal and seemingly unbearable,” stated Dr. Michael T. Williams, retired pastor of College Hill Baptist Church.
As members of College Hill were mourning and preparing for the week-end homegoing services of Ella Robinson, 90 and Ruth Weir 93, they received another blow, that church member Juanita Starks, 92 had transitioned.
Robinson succumbed Tuesday, Feb. 2, Weir on Friday, Feb. 5, and Starks on Tuesday, Feb. 9. Many of the church members are still in shock.
Paula Bass, daughter of Robinson, said so many church members had called and offered their condolences, including Ruth Weir. Bass said, “Ms. Ruth said she was having a difficult time getting over my mom’s passing and as a result, was walking the floors at night, unable to sleep.” The two College Hill members were very good friends.
College Hill church member Smeadie Fisher said she had spoken with Weir less than two hours before she succumbed Friday night but it wasn’t until the next day she learned of her passing. Fisher often volunteered to take Weir places and pick up items from the store if needed. Driving seemed to be the only thing she did not do for herself. Fisher said, “The passing of her good friend Ella Robinson really bothered her a lot.”
Another church member, Mary Fisher said, “Ms. Starks attended my drive-by birthday party January 9. She said, “I can hardly believe she is gone.”
Senator Hillman Frazier, Dist. 27, who lives in Starks’ neighborhood, stated the Senate adjourned their meeting Tuesday in her memory, upon hearing of her passing.
Weir’s son, Willie Silas, said, “I talked to my mother by phone at 7:03 p.m. Friday night and in less than three hours she had expired after being rushed to the hospital with problems breathing around 9:30 p.m. Even though his mother lived a long healthy life, it was still a shock to him and his brothers to lose her so abruptly.
Williams retired from the pastorship of College Hill October 11, 2020, yet his heart remains with the church family for whom he pastored ten years. Even though he does not live in the Jackson area, he continues to come when former members call on him.
Williams will be eulogizing Robinson Friday morning and Weir Saturday morning at College Hill with very limited attendance due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Arrangements for Starks were incomplete as of press time.
Williams said members are trying to understand the deaths of three matriarchs of the church. “While as shocking and alarming as this may be, may we never forget that our God can turn our question marks into exclamation points! During this difficult season in the life of College Hill Baptist Church, may we allow God to rearrange our circumstances. Instead of asking H-O-W could this happen, let us remember W-H-O is in control. Allow God to rearrange the letters of your circumstances from H-O-W to W-H-O. Jesus never promised us seasons without pain, but He did promise to give us peace in the midst of our pain. Yes, there may be a storm now, but can’t you hear Jesus whispering in our ears, “Peace, be still?”