Lett wrapping up ministry career

Published 8:59 pm Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Rev. Charles Lett’s story is one of longevity.

He’s 95 years old. That’s a start. But he has a ministry that has endured for more than 80 years.

That preaching of the gospel will be celebrated Thursday at a retirement banquet, beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the Selma Civic Center. Tickets are $25. The Rev. Harold Carter, pastor of New Shiloh Baptist Church of Baltimore will be the guest speaker.

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And on Sunday, Aug. 16, Lett will preach his final sermon as pastor of Calvary Missionary Baptist Church at the 11 a.m. worship service.

A 23rd anniversary program is set for 3 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 16, to celebrate Lett’s pastoring the church. The Rev. Johnathan McPhereson, pastor of St. John Baptist Church, Birmingham, will be the guest speaker.

“Reverend Lett has meant to much to this community and to his church,” said Sheyann Webb, who has organized the event for Thursday. “We wanted to show our appreciation for what he has done and for a lifetime of ministry.”

Lett’s ministry began at the age of 10, shortly after he accepted Jesus as his savior. He said he grew up in a Christian home in Daphne. He went with his parents to Sunday school every Sunday and to prayer meeting during the week.

“Parents were much more strict than today,” Lett said.

After accepting Christ, the minister said, “I gave myself to the Lord.”

That included the call to preach that first sermon on Genesis chapter 22 when Abraham was ordered to offer his son as a sacrifice. That sermon in 1924at Little Bethel Baptist Church began his ministry.

Lett came to Selma years later as a student at Selma University. He had no money, but a few interested people had their church take up a love offering for him. He worked and lived in the home of a woman and her children in Selma. The woman’s husband had recently died.

In 1935, Lett borrowed a suit of clothes to wear to his graduation. He later went to State Teachers College, which eventually became Alabama State University. He taught at Baldwin County Schools for $300 a year. He felt wealthy, “Men were working for 50 cents a day,” Lett said.

Two years after graduation, he married Minnie Thomas. They remained married for 58 years until she died in 1995. They had two children Charles and William.

In 1957, Lett moved back to Selma. He taught in public schools for 10 years and worked on a theological degree. His ministry did not end. He preached wherever he could.

After the pastor of Green Street Baptist Church died, Lett was asked if he’d preach there. He did and the church called him to be their minister.

Now, in retirement, after serving the community in various ways, including as president of the Selma City School Board, Lett has chosen to remain in Selma.

“After 51 years in Selma, I know more people in Selma than in home in Daphne,” he said.