Leandra Becerra Lumbreras has lived through every major historical event of the past century. On Sunday, her family says she made history herself. Born Aug. 31, 1887, the Mexican
great-great-grandmother reportedly turned 127. But because she lost her birth certificate, the Guinness Book of World Records will not recognize her as the world's oldest living person, the Telegraph reports.
The former seamstress has outlived her five children, and her family tree extends as far as 55 great-great-grandchildren. In an interview with Mexico's El Horizonte, she credits a love of chocolate and sleep with keeping her well. Not that Lumbreras left life pass her by: She says she served in the 1910 Mexican Revolution as the leader of Las Adelitas, a group of women in combat, according to the International Business Times' translation.
"She is entirely lucid. She blows your mind with stories from the revolution," Lumbreras's granddaughter told El Horizonte. "She was always a woman who fought."*
Now, I do not know this lady. I’m sure she has had a full life and is capable of sharing lots of wonderful memories. But I do know another grand old lady - one who is turning 120 this very month and whose history is well documented. Her official name is First Baptist Church of Lenoir City, Tennessee; and I am privileged to serve as her Pastor.
I thought it would be fitting for my blog this week to post the official press release surrounding her 120th anniversary. It will tell you somewhat about her long and full life. It reads:
120th ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION OF
FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH OF LENOIR CITY, TENNESSEE
First Baptist Church of Lenoir City, Tennessee will be celebrating her 120th Anniversary in the 10:15am Morning Worship Service on Sunday, September 14, 2014. She was chartered by sixteen visionary members back in 1894, thirteen years before the official incorporation of Lenoir City itself.
The first meeting place was a one room log cabin on Martel Road. Today, 120 years later, she has transitioned to her fourth location as she has grown to a total membership of over 3,000 people, with a physical campus occupying thirty four acres of land, including four main buildings totaling 265 thousand square feet valued at over $20 million.
The church has a current staff of over forty individuals, including the Academy. The annual operating budget is well over $2 million; and the total for all offerings, including missions, is approximately $3 million annually. More than one hundred separate ministries are part of the church’s overall program, including ministries for all ages, involving children, youth, women, men, and senior adults.
Additionally, the church owns and operates the Lenoir City Christian Academy, which includes a Christian School with grades currently running K-4, as well as a full time preschool, after school program, and also a summer daycare reaching approximately 150 children in total. She also operates the Lenoir City Arts Center, designed to teach students music and the performing arts.
The church is a cooperating member of the Loudon County Baptist Association (with more than forty churches), the Tennessee Baptist Convention (with 3100+ churches) and the Southern Baptist Convention, which is the nations’ largest protestant denomination with some 45,000 churches and sixteen million members.
Together with these entities, she supports six theological seminaries, more than thirty colleges and universities, a publishing house, a nationwide bookstore chain, and both a North American and an International Mission Board, with over 10,000 missionaries between them.
One of these six seminaries (Southern Seminary, headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky) operates an extension center on the church’s campus, with over fifty total ministerial students enrolled. Through these and her own missionary endeavors, First Baptist Church has a ministry presence that literally spans the entire globe.
In her storied existence, First Baptist Church has had over fifty individuals from within her membership enter vocational Christian ministry. Throughout this time, she herself has been led by over twenty full-time Pastors. Her current Pastor, Dr. C. E. Jackson, III has served as Senior Pastor since 2001, and is the longest tenured Pastor in the church’s history.
It is hoped that the first 120 years of her existence are only the foundation upon which a lengthier and even greater ministry will continue to be built.
With this in mind, First Baptist Church greatly anticipates the future God has in store for her as well as the difference she hopes to be able to make in the lives of the men, women, and children she encounters.
The First Baptist Church family is very excited to undertake this celebration of their wonderful history together. They extend an open invitation to the community for all those who desire to be a part of this truly historic day, which will include several recognitions, as well as an inspiring message to be brought by Dr. Randy Davis, Executive Director of the Tennessee Baptist Convention, all before transitioning downstairs for a meal together.
For more information, the church can be contacted online at www.firstbaptistlc.org or by phone at 865-986-9066.
So, if you happen to be in the area this coming Sunday, September 14, 2014, feel free to drop by and be a part of this very special day. And yes, as befits a bunch of Baptists, the meal will indeed be fried chicken!