Siloam’s Margie McDonald begins 60th year as Sunday School teachercomment (0)
October 3, 2002
Chances are good that if you grew up in Marion’s Siloam Baptist Church during the last 60 years, your life has been touched by a special lady.
Margaret “Margie” McDonald, a petite southern belle who belies her age of 93 by at least a decade, is in her 60th year as a children’s Sunday School teacher. “I’ve taught the same class in the same room for over half my life,” she proudly said, explaining that she has taught multigenerations of families.
Although a native of Winfield, McDonald moved to Marion in 1942 as the young bride of Raymond “Colonel Mac” McDonald who had accepted a teaching job at Marion Institute. The couple soon joined Siloam and have both been active members in the church ever since.
McDonald’s zealousness for her lifelong church calling was a natural decision for her as she was also a first-grade schoolteacher for 26 years in the Perry County School System.
“I just love children,” she said in way of explanation for the longevity of both of her teaching careers.
Got up the nerve
McDonald’s face spread into a wide smile and her twinkling blue eyes danced in merriment as she recalled some of the interesting comments that some of her former pupils have said to her over the years. “One little boy just couldn’t believe that his father was telling him the truth about me having taught him in school and Sunday School,” she recalled. “He finally got the nerve to come discuss it with me.”
McDonald confirmed the father’s story to the skeptical child who was astonished by the news.
After digesting the information, the curious child then said the unthinkable. “He asked me how old I was and I told him I was pretty old. He then replied to me, ‘Well I thought so ’cause you sure look old,’” she said with a chuckle.
“I’ve had men who are now in their 40s come up and tell me they thought I was real old back when I was their schoolteacher and Sunday School teacher,” she said, adding, “no telling how old they must think I am now.”
The veteran teacher said that she has no idea how many children she has taught in Sunday School. “I know there have been a lot of them,” she confessed.
“I’m all the time having middle-aged adults come up to me at church or in town and say, ‘I know you don’t remember me but you taught me in Sunday School,” she said. “Usually I can remember them.”
Although the mother of four, grandmother of seven and great-grandmother of one is modest about the influence she may have had on her young students, evidence shows that several of them pursued Christian vocations.
“I taught Lee Nichols who became a missionary to China,” she said, adding that another young boy became a Baptist pastor.
“But that’s been a while,” she said, pausing to think. “He’s now retired.”
Trying to find Jesus
McDonald recalled one Sunday School experience that she said she will never forget.
“Every Sunday before I dismissed class I have the children stand in a line to sing our ‘goodbye song.’” Demonstrating her point she sang, “I hope you will all come next Sunday and sing a song or two.”
“The Sunday School lesson that morning had been about Jesus always being there for us,” she continued.
But when it came time for the children to sing the song and leave she noticed one of the young boys was not in line.
“We searched everywhere for him and finally found him under one of the tables,” Mcdonald said. “I asked him what in the world he was doing and he said matter-of-factly, ‘I was under the table trying to find Jesus — you said He was everywhere.’”
Perry County Probate Judge Donald Cook has been the director of Siloam Baptist Church’s Sunday School for more than two decades.
Not only has he worked with McDonald, but he has been the recipient of her teaching in both first grade and primary Sunday School.
“I’ve known her all my life and I can fondly remember her being my teacher,” he said. “I had a lot of mischief in me as a young boy and I can testify that she has the patience of Job.”
Siloam Pastor Michael Perry said that McDonald has already given him notice that she is giving up her teaching position after her 60th year is concluded. “She’s given me forewarning,” Perry said of the dedicated teacher.
But Cook questions whether Siloam’s oldest Sunday School teacher will retire even then.
“She’s been telling us ever since her 50th year of teaching that she was retiring. We always twist her arm a little and she always shows up,” he noted.
Even McDonald hesitates on her pending retirement. “I told my friend the other day that this would be my last year and she said, ‘Oh no it won’t. You’ll keep coming to teach that class as long as you can put one foot in front of the other.’
“She may be right,” McDonald said as she smiled at the thought.