LEXINGTON, N.C. (BP) — Tempted to skip choir practice? Maybe you should think about Mallory Carrick and his sister Katy Palmer.
Carrick, 88, led the choir at Mountain View Baptist Church near Lexington, N.C., from about 1945 to just a couple of years ago — about 73 years.
His sister Katy Palmer has played piano and organ at Mountain View for about 67 years. She’s now 82 and still playing on Sundays.
Between them, that’s 140 years of commitment to praising God through music nearly every Sunday.
Beyond music, Tim Miller, Mountain View pastor who’s a relative newcomer with his 11 years of service there, said Carrick and Palmer have “done everything — Vacation Bible School, kids ministry, deacon, missions. Their lives have existed in and around the church. We just love them. They are precious people.”
That’s seconded by Mountain View member Bonnie Carrick, a distant cousin of Mallory and Katy through her husband.
“Mallory and Katy have always been available for everything — weddings or funerals. They would take time off work when needed. Mallory would always put his heart into whatever music he chose, and he would come up with appropriate music to sing. His love for missions has been overwhelming,” she said.
Katy has always loved missions as well, whether overseas or home, Bonnie Carrick said. “They’re always there for whatever.” Carrick has been a member of Mountain View for 56 years, and yes, Mallory and Katy were already serving when she joined the church.
Larry Phillips agreed with Carrick. He got to know Mallory and Katy between 1969-1973 as he served as Mountain View’s pastor, his first pastorate. “I have known and observed Mallory and Katy for some 47 years. Since leaving Mountain View in the summer of 1973, we have maintained a close, personal relationship with the folks there. So much of who I am is what I learned from Mallory and Katy over these years. I will always cherish and value their touch upon my life and ministry,” Phillips said.
It was Katy who encouraged Phillips to have a world missions conference at the church, and a Southern Baptist missionary from Africa wound up staying a week in the Phillips’ home. Phillips said that visit was the beginning of a missions journey for him and his wife Kathy.
After he served at one other North Carolina church, they went on to serve as Southern Baptist missionaries in Peru for 20 years. Of late, Phillips uses the Spanish he learned in Peru to serve as immigrant ministries strategist for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, ministering with the state’s Spanish speakers in several capacities over the years.
Phillips recalled how Mallory was able to “calm and encourage” his young and inexperienced pastor’s heart. “I knew him at his sock factory in Denton, at the local ball field, in his home, in the community, at the beach. In all those times and places, he has always been himself — one of the few Christian statesmen we still have with us,” he said.
Katy Palmer said it was in 1949 that Mountain View’s previous pianist had to quit for maternity leave. “So I started playing then,” she recalled. “I’d hate to hear what it sounded like,” she said with a grin.
She took piano lessons only during grades five through seven. After that, it was mostly practice that honed her skills. She took on playing the organ after one was given to the church around 1970.
Mountain View presented Mallory and Katy with plaques of appreciation in a special service last November.
“It was real nice for people to come out and to be appreciated in that way,” Mallory said. “Of course, the work that has been done over the years was accomplished by Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. We don’t take any credit for it. It has been a real honor and privilege that the Lord let me be here these many years.”
He has missed a few Sundays of late because of his wife’s heart attack, but said, “I’m 88 years old and still coming to church.”
These days, Mallory is careful when he walks but is still firm of voice and handshake — and still drives his Chevy Impala to and from church.
He graduated from the local high school in 1945 and began his music ministry about then. “I love to hear a choir join together and sing praises. It’s just something that always built me up and helped me to worship. It was a blessing to me, and I think it’s good for people to sing,” he said.
He has stayed with hymns in the Baptist Hymnal over the years and is not always fond of the changes he has seen creep in. He gives “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name” as an example of a good, solid hymn.
Mountain View has been a presence in the Southmont community near Lexington for many years. It’s a rural area, but development around nearby High Rock Lake has brought in new people.
Some of the newcomers from other states come looking for a spiritual home and find a warm welcome at Mountain View.
Miller said the church averages around 100 in attendance on Sundays, way up from the 30 or so in church when he began serving as pastor. The lively church is growing, and he praised the spirit of unity he sees.
There is no hint of decline or plateau in Mountain View; a children’s church time each Sunday morning is a key part of the service.
He is especially pleased with the church’s outreach ministry to children. The ministry uses two vehicles to collect 15 to 30 children around the community on Sunday morning and evening and bring them to services. The church provides them with lunch and dinner as well as Bible teaching and other activities.
“If we’re late, they’ll call the church and ask if we’re coming to get them today,” Miller said.
The church also supports missions beyond the local community by contributing through the Cooperative Program and the Southern Baptist mission offerings.
On Miller’s office wall are an architect’s sketches for a multi-purpose building he would like to see the church construct one day; it would house several community-focused ministries and be added onto the present building, which originally was a one-room schoolhouse built in 1939.
Just as that modern new building will be added onto an earlier foundation, Mountain View’s present and future growth in membership and faith will be added to the foundational ministry of members like Mallory and Katy and their longtime commitment to the Gospel.