For more than 70 years, organist has set tone for Second Baptist Church
FORD CITY — Every Sunday, the walls of Second Baptist Church reverberate with the lively, joyful sounds of Gospel music, booming out from the church's organ. For the past 72 years, the skillful fingers of Juanita Carr have directed the organ's keys.
Second Baptist pastor the Rev. Kent J. Commodore said Carr became the church's organist at age 11. Carr, now 83, said she remembers the first song she ever played in the church, “Near the Cross.”
Carr said that her long history with the church involves many of her family members, all talented musicians themselves.
“My father, Frank Tolliver, was a saxophone player. He died, however, when he was in his 20s, so I never really knew him. My mother, Catherine, was remarried to Homer Allenswood. He was a very good Christian man and we all just regarded him as our father. Along with music, church was a very important part of our lives. We all went to church twice on Sunday, prayer meetings on Wednesday and a church youth group on Friday. Back then the church was known as Morton Chapel, named after the first pastor who built it. Later it became Second Baptist.”
Carr said she is one of eight children, five boys and three girls. All of her siblings were noted for their singing ability, she added. Her brother Frank, formerly a teacher at Lenape Elementary, was a songwriter and manager of a band and singing group, The Versatiles, made up of Carr's children. Carr's daughter, Kitt, is a noted jazz singer and recently was invited to perform at the Moscow International Jazz Festival. Her son Stanley is an accomplished organist, and like his mother, is self-taught.
About the same time she became church organist, Carr said, she and two of her sisters, June and Deloris, formed a Gospel trio. A short time later, they added a fourth member, Ronnie-Jean Pendleton, and were known as the Four Roses Quartet.
In addition to playing the organ, Carr is church trustee, a member of the finance and fundraising committee. She was the Youth Choir director.
Commodore said that Carr was on the church's Pulpit Committee.
“When I was called to the church about six years ago,” he said, “she was on the Pulpit Committee. Members of the committee address a lot of questions to a prospective candidate for a pastor or deacon. But I remember her question quite well. She simply asked me what direction I wanted her to go as far as music was concerned. After I answered, she said, ‘OK, that's the way we'll go.' She was and is very supportive of the church. You couldn't hope for a more loyal or hardworking member. By the way, she is also our kitchen manager. I've never known of anyone who has been a church organist and served a church in so many ways for 72 years.”
When it comes to serving the needs of a church, Carr said her motto is: “Come to serve, not to be served.” From her earliest recollections, Carr said that a Christian lifestyle was an integral part of family life.
“The church and serving Christ is my life,” she said. “We were raised with a few simple lessons, ‘Let your word be your bond' and ‘Treat people right and be kind.' I had six children, five boys and a girl. One son died in Vietnam. I have 33 grandchildren and great-grandchildren. They were all taught those same lessons. I am thankful that the Lord has blessed us with the talents we have and taught us to live right.”
Tom Mitchell is a Leader Times correspondent.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Armstrong School District works out contract with cafeteria workers
- River tour offers views of Armstrong foliage
- Kittanning Foodland announces it will close
- East Franklin soldier gets first award founded by actor Sinise
- Kittanning razes condemned homes it bought at tax sale
- Festival benefits Light Up Night, fire department in Ford City
- Kittanning man withdraws plea after judge rejects sentence recommendation
- ‘Victory’ for ARDC; Armstrong locks to open in 2015
- Support group in Ford City offers help to depressed
- Erie woman charged second time in a week in Armstrong
- Annual Light Up Night gets green light in Ford City