Mrs. Genora Hamm Biggs takes her faith seriously. She reads the Bible daily, and has attended the same church in her hometown of Elberton, Georgia, for 92 years — since she was 11 years old.
There aren't many commitments that last that long in this world. Whether you're a churchgoer yourself or not, that's an impressive record.
But recently, she got the following letter from her place of worship, the Union Grove Baptist Church:
Dear Mrs. Genora Hamm Biggs,
This letter is to inform you that according to the by-laws of the Union Grove Baptist Church, and by vote of the active members, any membership or associations that you have had with this church are now officially revoked. Therefore, you cannot attend Union Grove Baptist Church for any reason whatsoever. You are not to come to the property of the Union Grove Baptist Church located at 680 Pulliam Street, Elberton, Georgia 30635.
The members and officers of the Union Grove Baptist Church
Genora Hamm Biggs was asked to leave the only church she's ever known. (Photo: FOX Carolina/WHNS)
Being 103 years old, and having seen a few things in her time (like both world wars, women's suffrage, the Great Depression, the moon landing, the civil rights movement, the assassination of Kennedy and MLK Jr. — you get the idea), Mrs. Biggs wasn't going to let a letter stop her from going to church. She got up, got dressed in her Sunday best, and went to worship the next week anyway.
The church leaders then called the cops to remove her.
They refused. Elberton Police Chief Mark Welsh told the Athens Banner-Herald newspaper: "We're not going over there and throwing a 103-year-old lady out of her church."
After the police left, saying the matter was a civil matter, not a criminal one, the pastor cancelled the service and left Mrs. Biggs sitting in the dark.
The root of the controversy is that Mrs. Biggs and some of her family members are concerned that the church leadership is moving away from their Baptist roots and towards a different doctrine.
Mrs. Biggs spoke up about it, and that seems to be what earned her the banning.
The centenarian is known as a respected pillar of her community and an outspoken woman. Mary Dean of Elberton told the Banner-Herald: “Mrs. Biggs is a good person. She is a determined person. She’s always been for the right thing. You won’t always like what she has to say, but she was for the right. If you’re wrong, she’ll tell you. That’s the way she always was."
Mrs. Biggs is headed back to church this Sunday.