Pictures & Story by Dr. Yvonne D. Nelson Dr. Mary L. “Mockingbird” Martin completed the course of studies to earn a Doctor of Divinity in 2007. In 2012, Dr. Martin launched M.A.R.Y’s (My Arms Round Youth/ Seniors) Outreach Ministry. “The mission of M.A.R.Y’s Outreach Ministry is to be a beacon of light pointing men, women, boys, and girls to the light—Jesus Christ,” said Martin. “Our slogan is “Do your best and watch God do the rest!” With help from Rev. James Kendrick, Sr. Pastor at Oak Grove Missionary Baptist Church, 183 Joubert Avenue in Memphis, TN, Martin’s extended family held an especially rich and spiritual birthday celebration program in honor of and on her 82nd birthday, Saturday, February 9, 2019. “There have been many strong black women throughout history with great accomplishments, but the strongest black woman I know is my mom, Dr. Mary Mockingbird Martin,” said Mary’s son Theodore Reginald “Tony” Martin Sr. in a Facebook post. “This woman has the strongest, yet gentlest hands ever; knock you down today and comfort you within the same hour. She led, not sent seven children—six of which were so hard-headed to church and to the Lord. She is the founder of the Junior Usher Board at Middle Baptist Church, Whitehaven; she went back to school and completed degrees by age 40 or so; and… she goes and ministers at South Parkway care home every Wednesday. She was a former announcer on AM1240, WAVN; sang on AM1070, WDIA for years (the Oris Mays live radio show) on Sunday mornings; was the lead singer for the North Memphis Community Choir and Middle Baptist Church Whitehaven who went on to say there are just too many accomplishments to mention.” Chauncey Jorden opened the celebration program with a prayer and grands Kim Abston and Akena Byrd provided the scripture before the birthday honoree entered the sanctuary. Stacey Abston gave praise and worship and all the grandchildren followed with much love and many birthday well-wishes. Granddaughter Kaci Simmions recited a poem and then the nieces and nephews had their turns providing even more birthday well-wishes to Dr. Martin. Shortly afterwards, Phillis “County Girl” and The McKinney Family and Friends shook the house with several selections and soloist Overton D. Wright finished rocking the house with his splendid and moving rendition of the black gospel spiritual “By the Grace of my Lord I’ve Come a Long Way.” The program ended with more birthday wishes from Mary’s children and a couple of selections by the Family Choir led by Tony Martin (Jr.). Practically filled with tears of joy and overwhelmed for the days events, Dr. Martin thanked those who were in attendance and those whose thoughts were with her on her birthday. “Thank you all,” said Martin as she acknowledged all the individual family members in the audience and posed for pictures.” “Happy Birthday to my heart, the mother of my mother, the grandmother of me and the one who always fed me anytime I stepped my foot in her door,” said granddaughter Janae Abston. “You’re still walking, talking, breathing, cooking, texting, and in your right mind and I am forever grateful. I love you honey and today—it’s all about you! Y’all help me wish my Granny a Happy 82nd Birthday!” 6 (Above) Martin’s son, Elder T.R. Martin, and grandson Tim Abston thank those in attendance for coming. (Below) Martin enjoys “Touch Me Lord” being sung by her niece, Tina Byrd.

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