Woman preacher


March 9, 1989 — Ethel Painter is not a typical grandmother. She may wear conservative-looking clothes and pull her hair back in a braided bun, but she rarely sits at home in a rocking chair. She doesn’t have time. Mrs. Painter is the minister of Battlecreek Pentecostal Church.

According to the Rev. Painter, also know as Grandma Ethel and Bell Clapper — a name given to her by her late father because of her talkative nature — the Battlecreek church was built in 1931. Her occupation began when she was approached about starting a Sunday school at Battlecreek.

In 1957, she was installed as the secretary and treasurer of the church and when the church’s minister left to go to the Assembly of God denomination, she was asked to become the minister.

“Back in those days, the superintendent of the conference had to know me,” she explained. “Had to give my life history almost.”

The superintendent gave the Rev. Painter a license to become a local minister in 1965, and in 1983 she became an ordained minister through the Free Pentecostal denomination headquartered in Baltimore.

In addition to her responsibilities at Battlecreek and her radio broadcast on WRAA, she often takes time to visit nursing home patients and prisoners. 

~ From the public archives of the Page News and Courier


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