Ocean City’s Shiloh Baptist Church Honors its 97-Year-Old “Mother”

first_imgBy Donald WittkowskiAmong the parishioners at Shiloh Baptist Church, she is affectionately known as Miss Moore or Mother Moore.Both her age and the deep respect shown to her by church members have made 97-year-old Juanita Moore the spiritual mother of Shiloh Baptist, one of Ocean City’s oldest houses of worship.“She always has words of comfort and concern for everyone,” the Rev. Paul Jerkins, pastor of Shiloh Baptist, said of the church’s oldest member.Although she normally shuns the spotlight, Moore was honored by the church during a special brunch Saturday that reflected on her contributions to Shiloh Baptist during her nearly 60 years as a member.“She is my role model,” said Mary Miles, Moore’s best friend. “She tells you what to do and how to do it. When we didn’t know how to do it, she showed us.”Miles, 74, an Ocean City resident and a member of Shiloh Baptist for more than 50 years, spoke of how Moore has quietly influenced the parishioners with her wisdom and compassion – all while refusing to take any credit for her contributions.“She’s always behind the scenes,” Miles said. “Every time we would honor her, Mother Moore didn’t want that.”Moore, who moved to Ocean City in 1955 from Amelia County, Va., became a member of Shiloh Baptist in 1960. The quaint, two-story church at 7 E. Seventh Street was founded in 1912, two years before the outbreak of World War I.In a quiet voice, Moore expressed her love for the church and its members. Prompting smiles from her fellow parishioners, she couldn’t understand why the church went through all the fuss of honoring her with the special brunch.“That’s not me,” she said of being the center of attention. “When you help somebody, you help them from the heart. My journey in life is helping people.”Moore paused for a moment, then thanked the church members for the brunch. “It was definitely beautiful,” she said.The Rev. Paul Jerkins, pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church, gives Juanita Moore a hug.Rev. Jerkins noted that Mother Moore was one of the first members he sought out when he became pastor of Shiloh Baptist four years ago. He praised her for having a “Biblical ability” to help people and resolve problems.“She is the voice of reason and the conscience of the church,” he said.Jerkins came to Ocean City after serving as pastor of the Shiloh Baptist Church in Egg Harbor City. He said Moore helped him to better understand Ocean City by telling him of its history.“She gave me a great view of Ocean City,” he recalled. “She would sit down with me every week and I would listen to her counsel. She would tell me to keep in touch with everyone in the church and to keep them in my prayers.”Jerkins said he was surprised at first to see someone in her 90s be so active in the church. But as he got to know Moore, he began to realize just how influential and important she was in the congregation – in her own quiet way.“There is scripture that says, ‘What you do in secret, God will reward you openly,’’’ he said. “That pretty much says it all about Mother Moore. She would like to receive acclaim from God instead of from people.”Shiloh Baptist Church, located at 7 E. Seventh Street, was founded in 1912 and is one of Ocean City’s oldest houses of worship. Juanita Moore, center, is joined by Juanita Williams and Mary Miles, all of Ocean City, after Sunday services at Shiloh Baptist Church.last_img

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