When it comes to keeping a church alive and thriving, there’s more to the process than what emanates from the pulpit and the choir loft.
To the contrary, it takes many behind-the-scenes personnel to preserve and present such religious edifices in an orderly and Godly manner.
On Sunday, First Baptist Church Statesboro will be celebrating and showing appreciation for one such long-time employee during regular morning services that begin at 8:30 a.m. and 11 a.m.
Ms. Arlene Brack, who began her employment with the church on August 7, 1986, will be recognized and honored for her three-and-a-half decades of dedicated service to the local house of worship.
“Arlene Brack has been a faithful part of our staff for many years, serving and working with a joyful spirit and commitment to excellence, “ said FBCS pastor Dr. John Waters. “Her kind manner and gentle nature make her easy to love, and our church is better and stronger because of her.”
Brack began her employment in 1986 working with the Food Services staff for the Church’s Weekday Preschool and transitioned to the Church’s Facilities staff in 2004.
And according to Administrative Pastor Rev. Keith Hagan, Brack’s value to the church has gone beyond any one area of expertise.
“She began her career with us when we had a weekday preschool ministry and I believe that one of her big responsibilities was helping provide for the preschool in the way of food services and I think she helped provide their meals,” Hagan said.
Brack’s reaction to the planned recognition was simple and to the point.
“I’m excited, shocked, surprised,” she said.
The conception of her employment of the church came through a family connection.
“My mother’s name was Hilda Williams. She worked (at the church) for many years,” Brack said.
“(She) was in the process of retiring, and that’s how I became a part of working at the church in the housekeeping department.”
After following in her mother’s footsteps, Brack found herself doing whatever the church needed as her career progressed.
“When I first started working with First Baptist, I was working at the little daycare center. I worked for the daycare center for about 16 years from when they first opened the doors. And when that closed, that’s when I was transferred up here to the church part,” she said.
Her duties changed, but her loyalty and resolve to do whatever was needed did not.
“(The transition) was pretty easy for me because I was doing pretty much the same thing with the cleaning like I’d done with the daycare, but I did a little differently there because I fixed lunches for the little kids as well.”
Hagan echoed Brack’s recollection.
“Some years later, the church transitioned that (preschool) ministry, and Arlene transitioned with that and moved into our operations and facilities area as part of that staff,” he said. “I think she’s been doing that for about 17 or 18 years or so, so about half of her career was with primarily helping with our preschool and the other half has been with our operations and facilities staff.
“She’s adapted quite well with the changes, she’s certainly very flexible in her willingness to take on new responsibilities,” he added.
Brack said the change felt familiar and she had no problem adapting.
“When I transferred up there (to the church), it was easy because I pretty much knew what to do and I just followed, and whatever they asked me to do, I did it,” she said.
These days, she describes her duties as varied.
“My job right now is housekeeping. It’s a variety of things, like cleaning the offices and taking care of the worship center, making sure it’s ready for services on Sundays and for other occasions as well,” she said.
She said she also works in the full service area for family night suppers and other events.
But whatever the job at hand, Brack has been up to the task for 35 years in any capacity.
“Obviously, with that long of a tenure, she’s got to be doing something right, and she does,” Hagan said.
Waters also spoke of Brack’s character and reputation among the congregation and staff of FBCS.
“Our church is blessed to have Arlene as a staff member for 35 years, and she is deeply respected by everyone because of her winsome ways and outstanding work,” he said.
“She’s a highly valued and highly regarded employee,” Hagan added.
As for her longevity at one place of employment for so long, Brack summed it up in one sentence.
“I love people, and I don’t mind working, and the years go by so fast, you don’t count them,” she said.
“I’m so blessed to have the opportunity to work at First Baptist Church and for them to allow me to work there for all these years. I’m grateful and I’m blessed.”
Brack is an only child and has lived in Bulloch County her entire life. She has one child and two grandchildren.