By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
HUNTINGDON — Marge Tucker has no idea how many youth she has taught in Sunday School or led through Bible drills over the past 55 years.
“It’s a bunch,” she acknowledged, but then again, it was never about numbers for “Miss Marge” as she is affectionately known at First Baptist Church, Huntingdon.
Her main desire and love has been to teach God’s Word to the youth and to see them grow in their faith.
“There’s nothing better you can do for the Lord than teaching His Word,” Tucker affirmed.
She joined the church in 1965 and a year later, when her son Tony was entering the seventh grade, she began leading youth Bible drill. She also began teaching Sunday School.
“It’s also rewarding when years later, someone stops to thank me for teaching them the Bible,” she said.
When the new church year begins in a few months, it will be the first time in five decades that Tucker has not taught Sunday School or led Bible drill, said Henry Simpson, minister of music and education at First Baptist.
“She has set the bar high in her commitment to sharing Jesus and the Word of God,” Simpson said. “There is no telling how many lives she has touched,” he added.
Simpson observed that Tucker “is the driving force behind Bible drill not only at First Baptist but in the association and West Tennessee as well.
The church gathered together in the fellowship hall on a hot afternoon (on July 25) to pay tribute to Tucker for her faithful ministry.
First Baptist pastor Jacob Harris recalled that “Miss Marge” was one of the first people he met when he was called to the church four years ago.
“Her influence is well known. She is loved and respected by everybody,” Harris said. “She is a pillar of not only the church, but the community as well,” he added.
Cliff Kelley, minister of outreach and recreation at First Baptist, for 20-plus years, also grew up in the church. “She taught me in Bible drill and has made an impact on my life and the lives of so many others,” he observed.
What’s more, Tucker not only taught him, but now has taught his son, Ty, as well. “That’s awesome,” he said.
Malcolm Norton, who is the associational Bible drill leader for Carroll-Benton Baptist Association, noted that Tucker has had a great deal of influence on numerous young people. “Many lives have been changed by her faithfulness and service to the Lord,” Norton said.
Donna Blaydes, childhood specialist for the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board, noted that Tucker “has invested in the lives of hundreds of students over the past 50-plus years.
As you poured into these students you helped them to understand what the psalmist wrote in Psalm 119:105 that ‘God’s Word is a light to their feet and a lamp to their path.’ Your investment not only impacted your students during the time they were in Bible drill, but it continues to impact their lives.”
As the youth she has taught over the years have become adults and face different seasons in their lives, “God is able to bring to their minds those verses that you encouraged them to learn. … Thank you for answering God’s call for your life. Because you were faithful, lives were changed,” Blaydes said.
During her tribute, one of her most recent students, Leigh Sanders, spoke on behalf of her last class of seniors that she taught all the way from the seventh grade until their graduation in the spring.
She thanked Tucker for not only being their teacher but being their friend as well, noting that she would go out to eat with them and take them shopping in Jackson.
“I will never forget the impact you had on my life,” Sanders said.
Another former pupil of Tucker came all the way from Chattanooga to honor his former teacher. Chad Segraves, who along with his wife, Leslie, now lead 10/40 Connections, a ministry designed “to cast hope to unreached peoples so that they hear, experience and multiply the Good News of Jesus.”
Segraves grew up in First Baptist and participated for six years in Bible drill and later the Youth Speaker’s Tournament. He not only won the state tournament sponsored by the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board, but also the national tournament sponsored by Lifeway Christian Resources.
Segraves thanked Tucker for being “such a blessing to me and so many others.” He shared that what he learned from her through Bible drill is being taught in other parts of the world through the 10/40 Connections ministry. “Your testimony continues,” Segraves said. “I have a love of Bible drill because of you,” he affirmed.
Her former pupil’s comments were “the most rewarding thing anybody said (during the tribute),” Miss Marge noted. “I never felt a call to be a missionary but Chad did. Now, a tiny part of me is being fulfilled through Chad as he teaches others, especially about Bible drill.”
Many of Tucker’s former drillers were unable to attend the tribute service, but many parents represented their children and thanked Tucker for “what I had done for their children and their families,” she said. “That was special.” B&R