To know her was to love her with every breath and intent she earnestly and faithfully lived a life in servitude of the Lord.
Thelma J. Gatlin loved immensely, was the youngest born on September 10, 1930 to the late John Sr. & Jessie Johnson. Her oldest sister Sarah Janette took a special interest in her upbringing and supported Mamma Jessie in every way possible. Thelma’s formative years of education began at Seatack Elementary School and it was during those years she was acquainted with the Lord. Her family were members of the St. Mark A. M. E. Church, but she was always captivated and interested in the sounds she heard of worship and praising God as she passed by the church. She wanted so badly to go inside and see what was going on but was forbidden. Against all odds she joined that little church and was saved, sanctified, baptized and filled with The Holy Ghost.
She grew in Christ and her life inspired her sisters and brothers to come to the knowledge of Christ. After graduating from Princess Anne High School, she set off to college; with aspirations to become a teacher. While in school she had prayer services in her dorm and became known for being the lady that did not frequent the cafeteria, but instead fasted and prayed constantly to draw others to Christ. Finally, in 1952, she received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary Education. That same year in a quaint, quiet, and secret ceremony performed in the home of the late Elder Solomon Ferebee, Thelma & James H. Gatlin Jr. exchanged vows and became husband and wife. To that union God blessed them with eight children; Theron Alonzo, Jessie Mae Janette, Cecilia Parthenia, Deborah Anne, Jane Henrietta, Patricia Eugenia, Mary Ernestine, and Gerenia Maria Gatlin. Have you ever listened to an orchestra at a musical, or enjoyed the sounds of an orchestra playing? Well, then you would understand how the maestro directs his orchestra and the audience witness how the music gradually increases in vibrato and intensity capturing everyone’s attention leaving you speechless and amazed at the maestro’s ability to direct his orchestra; so has been the life of Thelma. We have watched as God has orchestrated her life. He built her up; prepared her with the Holy Ghost and strengthened her to carry His words to reach the people. God increased her statue and distinction, wisdom and favor. Igniting the spirit of servitude, Thelma became a member of the St. Stephens Holiness Church. There she and her beloved husband served on the Pastor’s Aide Board. Later, in an effort to support her husband, Elder Gatlin she became a secretary of St. Stephens Church of God In Christ. In 1972, the late Elder James H. Gatlin, Jr. founded The New Hope Church of God in Christ. There Thelma assumed her role as First Lady, president of the Young Women’s Christian Counsel (YWCC) and was an anointed Sunday School Teacher. All of these auxiliaries she loved and served faithfully. She served as president of the South Norfolk District YWCC president, and the district Missionary’s Advisory Board. On a State level she served as Dean of Women’s Department Workshop. Currently, she was a member of The Body of Believers Outreach Ministries Church of God In Christ under the tutelage of Pastor William O. Cornick Jr. There she held the office of Church Mother, President of the Women’s Department and Leader of the Noon Day Power Hour. With every breath and intent, she earnestly and faithfully lived a life in servitude of the Lord. Quietly and peacefully Mother Thelma J. Gatlin entered into God’s eternal rest Monday May 4, 2020.
Her legacy will live on in the hearts and minds of her children, grandchildren and those that loved her dearly. Besides her parents, Thelma was predeceased by her husband, Pastor James H. Gatlin Jr.; siblings, Sarah, Georgia Ann, Mary, John Jr., Alfred, Tommy; daughter-in-law, Wilhemena Gatlin; son-in-law, Duane Walker Sr.; adopted daughter, Devonnia Jones.
Thelma leaves to cherish her memory, her children, Theron Gatlin, Janette Holland (JC), Cecilia Burden (Cassell), Deborah Foster, Jane Gatlin-Cornick (William), Patricia Walker, Mary E. Uzo (Anthony), Gerenia Gatlin; grandchildren, Tunisia (Robert), Junious III, Wendy, Jamie (Rick), Brian, Jasmine, Michael (Jelayne), Michael J., Brandon, Justin, Jessica, Duane Jr. (Cathryn), Xavier, Alexandra, Sergio, Fortune, Warren; great grandchildren, Tyler, Jacobii, Cameron, Micayah, Chase, Jizelle, Brianna, Joshuah, Ricky J. Mason, Asher, Nola, Janiyah, Zara; adopted daughters, Kathy Filhiol, Annisa Brown (Calvin), Claudia Gifford, Anita Johnson; extended grandchildren, Candis, Uzziel, Aniyah; 3 sister-in-laws, Gladys Wilson, Curlie Mae Gatlin, Gladys Holsey, Mollie Gatlin; special family & friends, Vivian Pruitte (Eddie), Gloria Bynum, Ms. Bridgette, special nephew, Jupiter Wilson (Wanda), Ernest Olds and a host of other relatives and friends.
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