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Monday, March 22, 2010

Pastor Lillie Turner: Celebrating More than 50 Years of Working With People

"I enjoy working with people amen, because I'm a people person."

Pastor Lillie Turner has promised herself that she will slow down, but will she? At 88 years young, she has plenty of reason to finally slow it down. For the past 20 years, she has pastored the Mount Zion Holiness Church in Riverview, and on the occasion of her retirement, she says, if she had the chance, she wouldn't change a thing.

To see a slideshow of Pastor Lillie Turner's Retirement Appreciation Celebration, please click here.

To download pictures of Pastor Lillie Turner's Retirement Appreciation Celebration, please click here.

"We've had plenty of ups and downs," she reminisced at a retirement celebration in her honor on Saturday, March 20, 2010. "I've cried sometimes, but somehow the Lord has been good to us and we've been able to hold it together. We've got good people, and the Lord has blest us."

Sister Turner took over the pastorship at Mount Zion when her husband, legendary Pastor James Turner passed away in 1990.

Many of the faithful came to the retirement celebration, held at the 1st Apostolic Christian Church on Stone Drive in Kingsport. There were plenty of inspirational stories passed around, that brought around a lot of memories, along with some good food prepared by the church.

"She served well as First Lady," says daughter-in-law Margaret Turner. "After the passing, the Bishop at that time, Bishop Jones of the Bishop cabinet, talked to her about taking over the pastoralship at Mount Zion in Kingsport. She was very reluctant at the time, but... I really liked what the preacher said about it at Revival this past Thursday night (March 18, 2010)... He said that Pastor Lillie came at a time when we, as a church, needed to be loved. Afte 30 years of serving as First Lady of the church, all of a sudden, now she's got this added responsibility of being the Pastor."

"You won't find a more passionate woman in the Spirit as Pastor Turner," Margaret says. "She has the patience of Job, which is important in the times we live in. She's 88 years old, and anybody knows that if you've been pastoring a church, it becomes a bond. You can't really go anywhere, you can't really do anything, because your devotion to the church and the people grows stronger every year. She really needs the break, because she takes the church to heart, and it shows up in her health. Because God has been good to her, her health has held up. Even with some rocky roads, I think she's enjoyed the trip."

Pastor Turner says, she's got some special times to look back on.

"I really enjoyed going to the conventions, the Pentacostal Assemblies of the World Conventions at the headquarters in Indianapolis," she says. "Every year, we went to different places, different cities and me and my husband always enjoyed that. We listened and talked to other ministers on how they deal with the times, and comforting people. Sometimes, it was rough.. rough, trying to keep things together, but God is Good. I had to cry a lot of times, stay awake at night a lot of times, but through it all, the Lord has blest me."

"If I stub my toe, she's not gonna sleep tonight," says daughter-in-law Margaret. "It's been a challenge for her because she cares so much for everybody, and always wants to be there for them. She's padded the road for people in the neighborhood. We've had the bitter with the sweet, but the Lord has been good."

Mount Zion is going to be in good hands. Her son, Pastor Lester Turner is taking over the pastorship from his mother, and he knows he has some big shoes to fill.

"Carrying out my mother's vision will be a challenge, especially in this day and time," he says. "The community is in a lot of unrest these days.. a lot of people out of work, a lot of insecurities, people dissatisfied. We'll just show them that the Lord is fully able, not only to intervene for them spiritually, but he is also a provider for us materially. It's like Jeremiah said, you have to keep on hammering, like a hammer against a rock. The Word just keeps going forward, to bust up that stony heart. I'm very optimistic about it. My mother will rest, but I know her.. she'll be there to support what we're doing, and we'll be hard-pressed to slow her down."

"Lester's more like his dad," Margaret says. "He believes that Holiness is not a lifestyle.. it's not something you do. It's something that you ARE. It's the only way of gospel preaching, just like his father. My father-in-law was a stern, disciplined preacher in the Word. Nothing ever got past him. You could tell him what troubling you, and somehow he got around to your heart and saw what really was making it heavy. He could touch you that way. Lester has a vision from both his parents, because we are living in the Age of Laodicea (Revelation 3:1). We know that that was the last church to receive letters, and that's where we are (for Bible scholars, in Revelation 2, letters went out to the 7 Churches, and the Church of Laodicea's letter says, in essence, 'although you are rich and do not require anything, yet you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.. Be earnest and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock.').

"Right now, we're caught up in the big money," Margaret Turner says. "It's all big business, the color black, and Lester is more like 'we'll help you if you want to be helped, so you can make the Rapture.' I do see a big change and a big improvement and a taking over."

His mom credits good friends with standing by her, when she's needed advice. "Mary Alice Whiteside is a special friend," she says, "and also Pastor Louis Herbert and especially Bishop Aaron Redd. I had to lean on them for support, and they've stood with me, and by me."

"My mother-in-law needs the rest," Margaret says, "and Lester will be a good pastor in the church. She needs to rest, and she'll have a good rest in the Lord. But we'll be hard-pressed to make her rest, 'cause she'll always want to be involved in the church."

"It's always been in her life."