Guardian of the church to gain recognition

The Pulaski Heights United Methodist Church will take a break Sunday to honor the most senior member of its ministry team.

Booker Rodgers, who is retiring as senior custodian of the Little Rock congregation, joined the staff in 1978, when Jimmy Carter was president and a gallon of gas cost about 70 cents.

It has been a fixture ever since.

“Booker has been in this church for 44 years. He’s a Christ-like institution in this church. He’s been a blessing to people in so many ways. [and] has served many, many people over the years. He’s a wonderful human being,” Senior Pastor John Robbins said.

Jay Clark, the congregation’s executive pastor, called Rodgers “a staple in Pulaski Heights.”

“He’s been through several senior pastors, several associate pastors and staff, and everyone loves Booker,” Clark said. “He’s fun to be around, he’s fun to watch, but he’s also doing a great job at what he was hired to do. … If you need anything, then you ask him, and it’s ‘is made.”

Among the tasks Rodgers has done over the years: removing the church’s cornerstone in 2012, allowing worshipers to remove and examine the contents of a 62-year-old time capsule.

The contents, revealed on the church’s centennial, were somewhat disappointing: Sunday school literature and a copy of the denomination’s discipline book, but no coins or artifacts. of collection.

Over the years, Rodgers has been present for many weddings and funerals, greetings and farewells.

Sunday at the Gathering Hall, from 10:10 a.m. to 10:50 a.m., he will be the guest of honor.

“We’re really looking forward to celebrating Booker, but we’re going to miss him too,” Clark said.

Karon Mann, Pulaski Heights member and former lay leader of the Arkansas Conference, praised Rodgers for his “spirit and faithfulness.”

“He is always there and will do anything for us,” she said. “He’s part of us. He’s one of us. He’s just amazing.”

Rodgers was married in church in 1986, joining in holy matrimony with Theonita Diane Pettus in a service led by then associate pastor Rodney Steele.

The church, at the time, “had a no-flash marriage policy, but when I pronounced them husband and wife, so many cameras started flashing it was like a Hollywood opening night or dance strobes in a nightclub,” Steele recalled in an email. .

While he couldn’t vouch for the caliber of the photos, the quality of the relationship was unmistakable, Steele said.

“The love between them before that day, that day and after that day has always inspired me and warmed my heart,” he added.

Jerry B. Hatch