Eliza L. Emory has worshipped under four pastors at New Hope Baptist Church of Harlem. All of them, she said, were her favorite.
“It’s the only church I’ve ever been a member,” said Emory, 86.
She began walking to the church as a young girl, more than 80 years ago.
“The roads weren’t even paved,” she said.
She was baptized out back, in a pond behind the church, at 8 years old.
“They marched us down singing hymns,” she said. “They have an indoor pool now.”
The church, simply put, is “like home.”
Emory, a single parent of two, with six grandchildren and one great-grandchild, has been an usher at the church, sitting in the same rear pew, for 60 years.
People have learned to ask her for help, directions or information.
“When people needs fans, I tell them,” she said with a laugh.
Most people know Emory for the small, dark car she drives around the neighborhood.
“She goes to the seniors’ center every day. She takes people to the center, doctor’s appointments, church, out to dinners and other places,” church member Robbiestene McGahee said.
Emory worked as a nurses’ assistant for 28 years in Augusta.
“I know about where every doctor’s office in Augusta was,” she said, so it’s not a problem to drive people to appointments.
Three times a week, she drives to Harlem Senior Citizen’s Center with a car full of seniors who no longer drive. During Vacation Bible School, Emory will make three trips to pick up children from the neighborhood.
“My car can hold five people every day,” she said. “There’s no train. No bus. They don’t come through out here.”
It’s the least she can do to help others.
“Long as the Lord let me see and let me move my legs,” she said, “I’ll be driving.”