First Baptist Church of South Boston surprised the Rev. Susan Taylor Davis on Feb. 14 with a Sunday morning service celebrating her 25th anniversary with the church.
The church’s associate pastor and minister of music began her work with First Baptist in January 1996. The celebration was originally planned for Jan. 31, but due to inclement weather that Sunday and the next, the service ended up being on Valentine’s Day, appropriately, as different speakers shared testimonies of what Davis meant to the church and to them individually.
The Rev. Garrett Bowman worked with others behind the scenes for a few months to plan the surprise event, even sending out a pretend Sunday bulletin to everyone, and Susan planned the music for the service she thought was being held, only to be totally surprised.
The first clue that something was afoot was when Main Street United Methodist Church’s organist, Ben Woosley, came through the door at 11 a.m. and proceeded to the organ where he played a special prelude for Davis. Woosley has worked with Davis on projects over the years, especially since Susan’s husband, Bob, passed away suddenly in January 2018. Bob Davis was First Baptist Church’s organist until his death, and since then, Woosley has helped out with special musical events at the church.
After the prelude, Bowman announced to Susan that the “planned” service was pretend, and that everyone was there that day to celebrate her service with First Baptist. What followed were several speakers who shared the different ways that Davis has made a difference to the people at First Baptist. A slide presentation of photos of Davis and her family and their church involvement over the years followed. Special music was planned as well, including a quartet singing “How Great Thou Art” and a solo of Davis’ favorite hymn, “Holy, Holy, Holy.”
In addition to Davis being the minister of music and the associate pastor, she also is in charge of the Keenager program for senior adults, which regularly take trips throughout Virginia and North Carolina.
Davis also started the Community Chorus years ago which performs annually in August. From children’s choirs and summer music camps, to handbells, adult choir, playing beautiful piano preludes and duets at church, doing online Bible studies, helping with funerals and other programs, and singing and playing for music events at The Prizery, Davis is totally involved at church and in the community.
Bowman presented Davis with the personnel committee’s special commendation for her, the choir presented her flowers, and then she spoke to the church, thanking them for the special thoughts and all their gifts. Wrapping up the service was a recording from the past of her husband, Bob, playing Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus.”
First Baptist truly appreciates all that Susan Davis has done and continues to do for the church.