In an effort to showcase senior women and illustrate appropriate church attire to young women, the Pastor’s Aid Minstry at Pleasant Grove Baptist Church of Ruston hosted its first Sunday’s Best pageant.Thirteen women from local baptist churches participated in this event.
Cheryl Nickerson, vice president of the Pastor’s Aid, came up with idea for the program.
“The purpose of Sunday’s Best was to showcase how our senior black women age gracefully.”
Debra Crowe, who served as chairperson for Sunday’s Best, said, “It was a wonderful program, very well attended. There was a lot of enthusiasm in the air. It was a good program spirtually and finanacially.”
Doris Marzett, president of the ministry, said that this program was planned because they were looking to have a big fundraiser, and showcasing the ladies seemed like a good idea.
“We raised more money than we expected. I was elated, overjoyed with the turn out,” said Marzett.
“The ladies were all excited. I really liked that. I enjoyed most the spirit in which the group worked. They worked with such fervor because they wanted it to be uplifting,” said Marzett.
Johnnie Bradford captured the title. First and second runners-up honors were earned by Pernella Mason and Jesse Sims, respectively.
“I enjoyed the program very much. I liked the fellowship, the spirit. This is our first Sunday’s best. It is a good thing to showcase our seniors. This will give the young girls a chance to see some good role models,” said Bradford.
“Our youth need to see certain kind of dress for church, because they have become relaxed in dressing for church. We first need to respect ourselves, then have respect for the house of the Lord. That will help us determine how we come dressed here.”
Bradford is a member of Pleasant Grove, where she is a member of the pastor’s aid, president of the senior mission ministry, finance secretary, and teacher for the adult women Sunday school. She said that she was thankful to Rev. Roosevelt Bryant’s church, Pleasant Grove in Jonesboro and James Bradford for supporting her.
Mason, who has attended Pleasant Grove all of her life, said, “I was excited that I was first runner-up. It really surprised me.”
She said of the program, “This is a good way for women to fellowship. I think such program should encourage young ladies to dress appropriately. Young women come to church without hose, and they wear low-cut clothes.”
Sims captivated the audience with her rendition of Maya Angelou’s poem, “Phenomenal Woman.” She said, “That poem is a part of me. I am a woman.”
She said of her participation in Sunday’s Best, “This is my thing. I like style. It was something the Lord wanted me to do. I enjoyed it.”
Like Bradford, she thinks that today’s young ladies need guidance. “There is a great difference in how you dress for church and other activities. Too many of today’s young ladies have no moral guidance when it comes to dressing for church,” said Sims, who is mother of Springhill Baptist Church of Simsboro.
Sims’ daughter, Claudia, said the program was really nice. “It gave our black women a chance to show style. The program was well developed. It was an opportunity for good fellowship for area churches since other churches were invited.
The pastor of Pleasant Grove, Kenneth Sapp, said that it is good for our young ladies to see how they should dress for church. “They can see that they do not have to have cleavage showing. Sunday’s Best was not about bragging. Actually, it was a testimony of God’s goodness, about the scripture, who can find a virtuous woman?” he said.
“I think the program showed that in the body of Christ we can have spiritual programs that are enjoyable. I really enjoyed the recitation of Sister Sim’s Phenomenal Woman. It was very unique and very appropriate,” said Sapp.
He said that the program was an excellent means of bringing area churches together to fellowship. “There were a lot of churches represented here today. It even crossed denominational and racial lines,” said Sapp.
Michelle Sills, a minister at Ruston’s Trinity Methodist church, said of the program, “It was beautiful and such a wonderful example for the youth of the church. These women are great role models. The music was the best that I have heard in a long time,” she said.
Sills learned of the program from Vickey Thomas, a Pleasant Grove member.
Sills said that this program should be an annual event. “Such a program brings the community together. It is a great spirit builder,” she said.
Austrial Hearn said the program was spiritual, as well as sociable. She said that it was a wholesome fellowship and she enjoyed the representation of women most because they were dressed beautifully and a good representation for the youth.
“I enjoyed the fellowship. I enjoyed the representation of Christian women. Sunday’s Best was a good Sunday program, and I enjoyed every minute of it. It was spiritual,” said Hearn, a member of Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church in Jonesboro. “Usually such a program is for the youth, so to see those older Christian ladies was marvelous.”
Rosena Bowman a Sunday school teacher and deaconess at Mt. Zion Baptist Church of Grambling said, “It was a wonderful program, well-planned and well done. I liked the musical arrangements. It could not have been better. The presentation of the contestants was excellent.”
Bowman said this program served as a good guidance tool for young people, especially young ladies. “It helps them to have a better appreciation for the greater things in life. This program was a character builder on how ladies should present themselves.
“The Sunday’s best certainly proved to be outstanding. It was a soothing sight for the sore eye,” said Bowman.
Other Sunday’s Best contestants and their churches included Vera Jordan Burks, Pleasant Grove; Martha Gail Foster, St. John of Ruston; Rosie Hicks Hodge, Pine Grove of Ruston; Revell Jackson,Countyline of Ruston; Bertha Johnson, Pleasant Grove; Earlene Kelly, St. Clair of Chatham; Irene Thomas, Mt. Zion of Grambling; Edella Wiley, St. Rest of Quitman; Sharon Williams, New Hopewell of Bernice; and Phyllis Wilson, Pleasant Grove.
Twelve of women represented a calendar month, with the winner and runners-up earning a prominent spot at the beginning of the calendar.
January, Wiley; February, Williams; March, Thomas; April, Kelly; May, Hodge; June, Burks; July, Foster; August, Jackson; Sepember, Mason; October, Wilson; November, Sims; and December, Johnson.