A pastor named Walter F. Houston has denied a 93-year-old woman her last wish – to have her funeral conducted at his church. The woman’s name was Olivia Blair and her daughter Barbara Day has been leading the appeals to the church and pastor to change his mind. Day is outraged that such a simple wish of her mother’s is being denied her posthumously. Olivia Blair attended Houston’s church since she was a little girl and lived nearby for her whole life. It is her most recent commitment to the church that is under question, and the pastor provides as a reason for refusing the request of the family.
The Fourth Missionary Baptist Church in Houston is presided over by the pastor that shares his name with the city. The pastor says that the woman in question hadn’t tithed enough in recent years to deserve a funeral in the church. Houston, the pastor, declined a request to be interviewed by KRIV, a local news station.
However, he did mention that Blair’s membership in the church had declined in the last 20 years. Day was not amused, “It was like the last insult in the world, there was nothing else that I could do for my mommy but funeralize her in the church that she loved and worshiped all of her life, even as a little girl.”
A blog writer named Tyrone Jacques picked up on the story, and with Barbara Day, has been pushing for Houston to accept and host the funeral at his church. Jacques reported that, upon checking the relevant records, he found that Houston had performed the funeral of Blair’s husband in the same church in 7 years prior.
This service was conducted with the utmost respect and membership honours for Blair’s husband, and also represents proof that the pastor, church and Blair were on good terms only 7 years ago.
Day does admit her mother may not have attended the church much in her last years of life – but that was because she was unwell. For the last two years, Blair has been in a nursing home and the hospital. In fact, for the last few months she was in a coma! She can’t be expected to attend church in those circumstances! Jacques pointed out that no one from the church came to see Blair in her periods of sickness, or asked Day about her mother. Jacques even offered to pay Houston to host the funeral in his church but the pastor declined. This seems utterly outrageous!
Day said she eventually found a church at which to hold her mother’s service but it was not the same. When someone makes a dying request it is up to their children and family to try to carry it out, but when such efforts are frustrated without valid reasons this can be infuriating. Day, with the help of Jacques, tried her best but Houston’s stubbornness was just cruel. In the end, it will be pastor Houston who has to deal with the ire of the community and God.