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Centenarian not slowing down; still teaches Sunday School

OKLAHOMA CITY (BP)–Myrtle Sheets has been a teacher virtually all her life. In fact, she started out as an “instructor” as a fourth-grader when she helped her first teacher — Mary Dunn — teach fellow students in a one-room schoolhouse in Lindsay, Okla.

More than 90 years later, Sheets is still teaching. She teaches the women’s Sunday School class at Oklahoma City’s New Genesis Fellowship, a congregation formed in April.

Sheets, who turned 100 Aug. 12, uses a simple formula in preparing her lessons.

On Sunday afternoons, she reads the students’ quarterly and teacher’s guide, underlining what she wants to focus on the next Sunday. She says it’s helpful to gather reference books and commentaries and research the text.

On Monday, she writes out an outline of the lesson on a legal pad. Then, two or three times during the week, she reviews her lesson.

“I love the Lord,” she said. “I love to study His Word and do research and try to give the ladies something I’ve learned that they maybe haven’t found yet.”

Said class member Judy Taylor: “She’s always looking for ways to teach God’s Word better. Her spirit is that she has to be pleasing to God in all she does. She’s quite unique in her Christian walk. I really admire her.”

Sheets has a very close relationship with the members of her class, which includes 15 women.

“Oh, I love those ladies,” Sheets said. “I’ve got the nicest bunch of ladies you’ve ever seen in your life in my Sunday School class. I love the friendship I have with them.”

The church honored Sheets in August with a 100th birthday party and reception. More than 300 people attended.

Guests included her two daughters, lifelong friends and dozens of Delta Upsilon Fraternity “boys” she took care of while serving as a housemother at the fraternity house at Oklahoma State University from 1970-1986.

But Sheets doesn’t simply teach Sunday School; she’s at church virtually every time the door is open.

“I used to be much more active, but I’m not that spry anymore,” Sheets said, laughing.

She attends all church social functions, and always brings a dessert.

“We have covered dish luncheons, and she will not come without bringing something,” Taylor said, adding that her friend and teacher “is amazing.”

“She does get tired some, but she is very dedicated,” Taylor said. “I pick her up to go to everything, and she won’t miss Wednesday night unless she’s not feeling well.

“For example, we’re doing a study right now on prayer, and she still comes, even if she’s very tired. She told me she wants to learn as much as she can about prayer; it’s that important to her.”

Sheets taught school for 38 years in Oklahoma, and retired in 1970 before moving to Stillwater.

She has fond memories of her Stillwater fraternity boys.

“When I went there, I had 32 young men in my house,” she recalled. “When I left, I had 125. They called me a hostess, but I called myself housemother, because that was my family at the time.”

Because of five eye surgeries, Sheets has had to resort to using a large print Bible — in her favorite version, the King James.

“A lot of people like these new fangled Bibles, but I’ll just stay with my King James,” she insisted.

Asked if she has a favorite book in the Bible, she thoughtfully replied, “I don’t know; I think all of ’em. There’s so much good stuff in there, I would hardly know how to pick a favorite.”

Sheets said she loves the story of the prodigal son, and likes to “read about God’s creation in the beginning.”

Her hearing is not so good these days, but she still calls each of her class members each week. Admittedly, preparing a lesson and teaching it each week is strenuous for a centenarian, but Sheets is looking forward to keeping it up.

“It’s a lot of work, but I enjoy it,” she said. “I just hope the Lord keeps me healthy enough so I can keep on going.”
This story first appeared in the Oklahoma Baptist Messenger, available online at www.baptistmessenger.com.

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  • Bob Nigh