I’m among what I’m sure are hundreds of others who were glad to know that. Darres, it seems to me, has been ever-present at First Broad since I first started attending in 2001. I can’t think of a single time I’ve been in the church and not seen Darres. I was shocked to hear, during the party last week, that she has allegedly been “part-time” at the church and worked full-time for years as a teacher in Hawkins County — where she still fills in as a substitute teacher.
I’m amazed she’s had the time to do anything outside the church, because, well, she seems to always be there ... unless she’s out helping get something done for the church.
How long has Darres been at First Broad? Well, she first started as director of Christian education in 1966 (“part-time, 10 hours a week” drew laughter from the crowd when this first job was described). In 1970, she became a mother and resigned. She was back in 1983 and has been at First Broad ever since as membership secretary (again, it started with the “10 hours a week,” but everyone knows she worked at least 40).
Darres has a bachelor of science degree in education from Tennessee Wesleyan and a master’s degree in Christian education from the Candler School of Theology at Emory University.
The theme for the church’s party for Darres: “A Servant’s Heart.”
“You can’t put into words how much she does for this church,” said Beverly Perdue, noting the honoree is the face of First Broad to many in the community. “When you tell someone you go to First Broad, one of the first things they ask is, ‘Do you know Darres Carter?’ ” Perdue said she’d wondered for a bit about what theme the party should have during the planning stages. And it came to her one night.
Perdue read from Galatians 5:13: “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”
“That describes Darres to a T,” Perdue said.
About those birthday calls. It is something Darres decided to do on her own. And she’s been at it for years, on average calling eight church members a day, 365 days a year, to wish them a happy birthday from First Broad. Some are short. Others lead to lengthy conversations. Darres is happy either way. She’s a true people person who likes to establish a connection with every member.
During her tenure at First Broad, Darres has worked with nine senior pastors: Ralph Mohney; Toombs Kay; Charles Lippse, Charles Neal; Jack Edwards; Clark Jenkins; Mickey Rainwater; Joe Green; and Randy Frye.
There was some good-natured ribbing during the party. It was noted that Darres likes things to be in order, but admits she’s not good with computers. She told Perdue that if there’s a problem with a computer anywhere in the church, the first thing the technician is liable to ask is if Darres has been there.
Frye, who is senior pastor now, first came to First Broad as an associate pastor in 1993. And Darres, he said, was there to offer treasured information — like get your season tickets for Dobyns-Bennett football as soon as they go on sale. She would also come to work after the school day was over and in 15 minutes “make sure I knew all the things I had failed to do.”
Frye said Darres has an incredible gift for gathering information and communicating it. She takes the time to get to know people. I must agree.
“All kidding aside,” Frye said. “Every church needs a Darres Carter. We love you and we love the ministry you have among us, and all the lives you’ve touched along the way.”
“Thank you all,” Darres said. “I really appreciate it. Thank you for all the help and support you’ve given me. Some people ask me why I keep working, and I say, ‘I’m 80 years old and it beats lying in the bed.’ ”