Community mourns loss of beloved pastor

Published 5:33pm Wednesday, March 26, 2014

After a lifetime of spreading wisdom, helping and inspiring others, Rev. Charles Lett died Sunday at the age of 99.

Funeral services for Lett will be held Friday at Calvary Missionary Baptist Church, where he dedicated a portion of his 85 years as pastor. The service will begin at 11 a.m.

“I don’t think you’ll find an individual, not just here in Selma, who would say, ‘I’m not going to miss him,’” Lett’s cousin John Harris. “We’re all at a loss.”

Born in Muskogee, Fla. on Sept. 25, 1914, Lett was known for his giving ways.

Most who recall Lett’s legacy reminisce about him behind the pulpit at Calvary Missionary Baptist Church delivering God’s message.

“In his sermons, you would think that he could move mountains, because he would move so much in the visual,” Harris, who recalls Lett baptizing him as a life-changing moment, said. “For myself, I learned a lot from him.”

Selma resident Etta Safford, who has been a member of Calvary Missionary Baptist Church so long the exact number of years escapes her, said it was the respect she had for Lett that made her return to the pews every week to hear him speak.

“I saw him as a good man, a good preacher and a friend to the members,” Safford said.

Selma resident Joseph Smith traveled with Lett as his personal driver as he preached to various churches, mainly throughout the South.

“There was a certain mannerism about him that I haven’t seen in any other [pastor],” Smith said. “I don’t know how to describe it.”

Lett’s retirement from his position as pastor in 2009 did not stop him from sharing life-changing words that would stick with people for a long time.

Harris said Lett shared a concept with him that he still lives by today.

Lett told him that everyone has a book that contains every step, decision and action in an individual’s life. The book ends when their life ends, and God can only open that book again. Therefore, it’s important to be careful about what you “write in your book.”

“It’s so soothing,” Harris said. “It makes you tighten up if you’re slipping a little bit.”

Known for his giving nature, Lett took on several other roles including member and president of the Selma City School Board, president of the local National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, charter member of Selma University Board of Trustees, president of Selma Interracial Alliance, Selma City Council Chaplin and several other positions.

Lett received his Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Divinity from Selma University. After he received a teaching certificate from the Alabama State Teachers College, Lett spent 10 years in which he served at Douglass High School in Bay Minette.

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