N.C.’s oldest pastor celebrates 100th birthday

Abby Cavenaugh Editor

November 27, 2013

Not many people reach their 100th birthday, much less still work a full-time job after more than a century of life. But Rev. William H. Sturdivant is not your average centenarian.

Sturdivant turned 100 on Nov. 15, and is still an acting pastor of three churches — Olive Grove, Parsons Grove and Sandy Ridge Missionary Baptist Churches.

“He is the oldest pastor in the Zion organization,” said Norma Tillman, emcee at Rev. Sturdivant’s birthday celebration Saturday night in Morven. “And to my knowledge, he is the oldest acting pastor in the state of North Carolina.”

A number of local officials turned out for the birthday celebration at Flat Rock MBC Family Life Center in Morven, including County Commissioners Anna Baucom and Vancine Sturdivant, Anson County Sheriff Tommy Allen, and many other church and community leaders.

Deacon Daulfus Staton, president of Zion’s Laymen at Flint Ridge MBC, said he has known Rev. Sturdivant for many years, and still remembers the first time he met him. “Preaching seems some mighty big shoes to fill,” he said. “Not everybody can wear those shoes. The many years I’ve known this man, I’ve never heard one bad word about Rev. Sturdivant.”

Staton added he has heard many good things, however. “I believe Anson County is a better place because of you having come through here,” he told Sturdivant.

County Commission Chair Anna Baucom presented a resolution to Rev. Sturdivant on behalf of the commissioners. She pointed out that Rev. Sturdivant was married to the late Ornie K. Sturdivant for 74 years, until her death in 2009. In the summer of 2011, he married Henrietta Martin at the age of 98.

“Rev. Sturdivant has consistently preached the gospel for more than 50 years,” Baucom said. Sheriff Tommy Allen praised Rev. Sturdivant’s longevity as well, saying he has been sheriff for only 28 years. “A man that gets married at 98 is really something,” he joked.

Allen also pointed out that there have been 18 U.S. presidents in Rev. Sturdivant’s lifetime, including the nation’s first African-American president.

Commissioner Vancine Sturdivant read a letter from Sen. Gene McLaurin, praising Rev. Sturdivant for his kindness and his willingness to serve others. “I hope you have many more happy and healthy years to come,” the senator wrote.