Turner reflects on more than 40 years at Memorial Baptist Church

As the church secretary at Memorial Baptist since 1981, Sandra Turner has been involved, to some extent, in almost everything involving the church.

In fact, some got the impression that, “if Sandra does it, we should, too.”

“Once, in between services, a mother and her son were debating over whether they were going to stay for preaching,” she recounted. “The mother said, ‘we are going to stay,’ but the son said, ‘Look, there goes Mrs. Sandra…she runs everything, and she’s not staying!’ ”

Beginning in May 1981 under then-pastor Nathan Fox, Turner has seen her position evolve from part- to full-time, and has seen the church grow to its present 300-plus, two-services Sunday format. She has served under five pastors (Fox, Kenneth Lambert, Daniel Flynn, Josh Phillips and current pastor Jon Ferguson), and has seen the staff grow from just the pastor and secretary to the present multi-pastoral staff with a senior pastor plus youth, children and music ministers.

“And one secretary,” she added. “I started out part-time, but as the church grew, Glade Goodman and Richard Norwood came to my house and asked if I would consider becoming full-time. They said that (Pastor) Lambert wanted me here every day, so I agreed.”

With the increased daily presence, Turner soon became more involved in the church’s operations, activities and schedules, which are never-ending.

“Over the course of the year, we move from one season to the next, and one day after the other,” she said, with special events such as weddings, benefit dinners and elections (the church serves as a polling place) interspersed into the church calendar, which she manages.

In addition, Turner handles the church’s financial records.
“My husband (Sam) is a CPA, and he is also the church treasurer,” Turner said, “and that’s a good arrangement for us to be able to work together.”

Natives of Anson County, Sandra and Sam moved to Norwood from Charlotte when their children were starting school to avoid being bused to out-of-neighborhood schools in Mecklenburg. All three attended South Stanly and went on to college.

“Our oldest is Shelly, who now lives in Albemarle,” she said. “We also have twins: Connie, who lives in Surfside Beach, and Karen, who lives in Greensboro. Plus, we have two grandsons.”

With retirement, the county to the south is once again calling, according to Sandra.

“I inherited our old home place at Cedar Hill (north of Ansonville),” she said. “We’ve had a garden spot there for the last 10 years, and have been working on the house. It’s ready for us to move in.”

And post-retirement plans?

“We definitely want to see the kids and grandkids more often, and Karen says we will be spending at least one night a month in Greensboro,” Turner said. “And of course, we’ll be going to the beach every chance we get.”

In addition to growing her garden, Sandra also does sewing and alterations, and will be doing that “as time allows.”

Looking back over her years at Memorial, Turner reflected on the many people whose lives have crossed paths with hers.

“I love this church, and the people here have loved me,” she said. “I’m thankful for the people I’ve become friends with over the years. There are so many who had helped start the church who aren’t with us any more,” she said, “but I’ll always have great memories of them.”

Toby Thorpe is a freelance writer for The Stanly News & Press.