Van Cleave, AL -- Millerville Baptist Church will not hold its annual Mother's Day recognitions during this year's Mother's Day service, ending a 40 year old tradition.
Over the past four decades, Millerville has awarded "prizes" for (1) Newest Mother, (2) Oldest Mother, (3) Mother with the Most Children, and (4) Mother with the Most Children Present. "It will be impossible for us to have a repeat of last year's incident this year because we are not carrying on the tradition this year," said pastor Will Scholls.
There have been occasional moments of awkwardness through the years, but the 2008 Mothers Day recognitions at Millerville were a total disaster.
To begin, Meagan Freemont, 24, had dreamed all of her life of receiving the Newest Mother award and even planned the timing of her marriage and subsequent pregnancy to coincide with the event. But the grand total of two weeks of life amassed by her daughter, May Elizabeth, caused Meagan to lose out to a 14 year old, out-of-wedlock mother who happened to be visiting from Mississippi with her 4 day old son. Heads turned quickly as the young girl on the back row answered "four days" when song leader Lester Scott asked "Has anyone been a mother for less than 2 weeks?" assuming there would be none as he approached Meagan. Lester was stunned for a moment before proceeding to the back to hand the young girl the corsage prize as Meagan began crying. The scene became very ugly when Meagan's tears turned to furious outbursts, where she was heard screaming "harlot" amidst many other angry words on more than one occasion during the rest of the service.
Lester wanted to quickly move on to Oldest Mother and immediately asked all mothers over 80 to raise a hand. About a dozen hands went up in the small sanctuary, and went down 1-by-1 as Lester counted up to 88 when two hands remained. As he counted "89, 90, 91, 92, 93," two hands remained. When he said "94" both hands went down. The crowd applauded that both mothers had reached 93 years old. But here is where the mistake occurred. Lester then asked each lady "In which month were you born?" Mrs. Arnder answered "February," and Mrs. Weathersby answered "November." Lester mistakenly concluded, "February is before November, so the corsage goes to Mrs. Arnder." Two quiet CPAs, a mechanical engineer, and young Bobby Wilson immediately began jerking their heads around in disbelief that this mathematical error was actually occurring. But it had, and Mrs. Arnder was holding a corsage meant for Mrs. Weathersby. When TBNN representatives interviewed young Bobby about the error, he said, "Mrs. Weathersby seemed to be doing fine without her flowers, so I didn't say nothing at the time."
Things visibly heated up again though when Lester was unsure whether to award the Mother With the Most Children corsage to Mrs. Thelma Gentry who bore eight children or Mrs. Yvone Henderson who bore five children, was a step mother to two children from her second marriage, had adopted two later in life, and even sponsored two children through Help Save the Children. He made the decision to award the corsage to Yvone, but not without a few gasps and many whispers.
You would think Mother with the Most Children Present would have been easy, but a problem arose. Melissa Williams had all four of her children present and was about to receive the corsage when Jennifer Lawson, who had three children visibly present, decided this was the right time to announce that she was pregnant with twins. The ceremonies stalled for almost 10 full minutes as bitter discussions ensued and several physical altercations broke out. Lester could not calm things down, and eventually handed the flowers to Jennifer Lawson, announced his resignation, left the church and has not been seen to this day. Without a song leader, the services ended and everyone left.