A 93-year-old woman attended the same church for more than 50 years. Yes, five whole decades. When she died, her family assumed that the church would handle the proceedings. Nope. Guess why.
Olivia Blair had a long-standing wish to have her funeral conducted at the church where she was a member for more than 50 years, a local Fox affiliate reported. It would seem like a simple and logical last request for Blair’s final wish since she was someone so devoted to her faith.
One would assume that it could be easily fulfilled by the Fourth Missionary Baptist Church in Houston, Texas, where she was a member for so many decades. However, the woman’s home church refused to grant her last wish in a shocking move that many have found impossible to stomach.
According to Barbara Day, Rev. Walter F. Houston of Fourth Missionary Baptist Church refused to conduct the funeral service for her mother Olivia Blair, who died at the age of 93. Day said that Rev. Houston told her that his decision rested on the fact that Blair hadn’t tithed enough in the years preceding her death, according to The Washington Times.
“It was like the last insult in the world, there was nothing else that I could do for my mommy but funeralize her in the church that she loved and worshiped all of her life, even as a little girl,” said an obviously and rightfully dismayed Barbara Day, who simply wanted to honor her mother’s dying wish as she laid her to rest.
Rev. Walter F. Houston declined to be interviewed on camera, but he did tell the media that Olivia Blair’s membership in the church had lapsed nearly 10 years before she died, according to Raw Story. However, that’s not exactly true, according to preacher watchdog Tyrone Jacques, who runs the website PimpPreacher.com. Jacques reported Day’s story on his website and advocated on her behalf in an attempt to make Houston change his mind.
Jacques says that records indicate that Rev. Houston buried Blair’s husband with a full church service and membership honors seven years prior to Blair’s death, which should serve as proof that the family was still in good standing with the church during that period. This would seem to debunk Rev. Houston’s claim that Blair’s membership in the church had lapsed nearly 10 years before she died.
Whether the 93-year-old Olivia Blair was an active member of Fourth Missionary Baptist Church at the time of her death or not should be irrelevant. As many would expect from someone in their 90s, her daughter admits that Blair was not well enough in the last two years of her life to attend services or make regular contributions to the church. That should be easily understood by anyone with compassion and common sense. Sadly, this doesn’t seem to be something that the reverend could grasp.
“For the last two years, my mother has been in either a nursing home or she’s been in a hospital,” said Day. “And the last few months, she was in a coma!” Jacques also points out that at no time during that period did any representative from the church reach out to check on Blair’s well-being. So, perhaps it was the church that failed in its services to their member in the end and not the other way around.
In a last-ditch effort to fulfill Olivia Blair’s dying wish, Tyrone Jacques selflessly offered to pay to have the funeral conducted at the Fourth Missionary Baptist Church. But, still, Rev. Walter F. Houston declined, showing his heartlessness and unrelenting stubbornness. “Membership has its privileges,” Houston reportedly told Jacques.
After some searching, Barbara Day said that she eventually found a church to perform her mother’s funeral, but she is still upset it was not done at her home church, and rightfully so. Knowing Rev. Houston’s true motives, any current members of his church should consider finding another place to worship, where the leadership truly has Christian values at heart.