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Building a legacy one child at a time


There aren’t many people at Midway Church in Baxley who remember when Lennie McDaniel didn’t teach Sunday School.

McDaniel celebrated her 100th birthday last September and at the time she was still working with preschoolers in Sunday School, something she has done for more than 50 years.

McDaniel began her preschool teaching career because of another Sunday School teacher. She still remembers her childhood teacher, Carrie Sellers, talking her into starting Sunbeams, G.A.s and R.A.s. Not long after starting the children’s groups, McDaniel began teaching preschoolers in Sunday School.

“At Midway, if you’re middle-aged or younger, you’ve been through her classes,” said Joanne Belcher, McDaniel’s niece who also lives in Baxley.

Although McDaniel hasn’t been able to attend church regularly since last Christmas because of illness, she was active well into her 100th year.

“She drove herself to a WMU meeting in her blue Toyota just the other day,” said Wayne Williamson, pastor of Midway Church.

And even when she was in the hospital for tests recently, she was lying on a stretcher in the hallway asking one of the nurses where she attended church.

“She loves Jesus and what she’s done is a result of that,” Williamson said.

Steve Parr, specialist for GBC’s newly named Sunday School/Open Group Ministries, agrees with Williamson.

“Teaching Sunday School is not the only way you can serve God, but it is one of the more intensive commitments. When a person gives 15, 20 or even 25 years that is just fantastic. When someone like Mrs. McDaniel invests 50 years in the lives of children, she is having eternal impact on her entire community,” he said.

“Mrs. McDaniel is an inspiration. When we look at her, she does away with all our excuses. She is crossing the finish line the way (the Apostle) Paul says we’re supposed to do.”

Bible Study Ministries recently changed its name to Sunday School/Open Group Ministries in order to define its mission better.

“We’ve included open groups because it’s not just about Sunday School,” Parr said. “It includes Sunday morning Bible studies as well as cell groups and any on-going open group class that anyone can come to any day of the week. This name better communicates what we do.”

Parr and his team work with Georgia churches to encourage and train people to do what Linnie McDaniel has done.

“We need to applaud teachers who work with children and youth in Sunday School. A lot of times our (sports) coaches get more accolades, and what they do is great, but wouldn’t it be great if we gave that much recognition to our Sunday School teachers?” Parr said.


Sunday School/Open Group is the newly named ministry that serves as a resource for churches ...

... in areas such as foundational evangelism, foundational discipleship, biblical leadership, spiritual transformation and family responsibility. For more information on how Sunday School/Open Group Ministries staff can help your church, call 1( 800) RING GBC or (770) 936-5285 or e-mail to

Sunday School/Open Group Ministries is possible through gifts to the Cooperative Program. Your church’s giving through the Cooperative Program is vital to the missions and ministries of the GBC and the Southern Baptist Convention. For more information, or to order free educational materials on the Cooperative Program, contact the GBC Cooperative Program office at or (770) 936-5240 or at 1( 800) RING-GBC.

You and your church may send Cooperative Program gifts to:
Dr. J. Robert White, Executive Director
Georgia Baptist Convention
2930 Flowers Rd., South
Atlanta, GA 30341-5532