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Gertrude Verena Burkhalter Mason

Gertrude Verena Burkhalter Mason went to be with her Lord onMarch 6, 2007, at the age of 95, at Hospice Ministries inRidgeland. The service in celebration of her life was held onSaturday, March 10, at the First Baptist Church in Crystal Springs.Stringer Family Funeral Home in Crystal Springs was in charge ofarrangements.

Mrs. Mason was born June 5, 1911, to Menno and Sarah GilliomBurkhalter in Berne, Ind. After graduating from Berne High Schoolin 1928, Gertrude was later able to attend Moody Bible Institute inChicago, Ill., where she played the violin in string ensembles forreligious radio broadcasts and in various churches. At Moody, shemet the love of her life, Estus Mason, her future husband fromMississippi. While Estus, a ministerial student, continued hiseducation at Moody and Mississippi College, Gertrude attendedWheaton College near Chicago, where she sang and traveled with thewomen’s chorus, and also helped out during those years at The FairStore, her family’s business in Berne.

Gertrude and Estus dedicated their lives to their Lord in theChristian ministry. Gertrude was a true helpmate as Estus firstpastored, simultaneously, five part-time rural churches in centralMississippi and then while at the Southern Baptist TheologicalSeminary in Louisville, Ky., served churches in Indiana. Duringthese years their two daughters, Anne and Sara, were born. Feelingthat her Christian calling was to be the best possible pastor’swife, Gertrude helped Estus with his ministry to churchcongregations. After the seminary years, they ministered inOolitic, Ind., and in Lyon and Meridian, before the couple moved toCrystal Springs, where Estus pastored the First Baptist Church for24 years until he retired in 1978. At their different pastoratesthroughout the years, Gertrude served the Lord in various churchministries, such as Children’s Bible Hour, Sunday school, Women’sMissionary Union, Vacation Bible School, church choir, and librarywork, as well as visiting, with Estus, the church members in theircongregations, prospective church members, and others needing God’snearness in their lives at special times.

After Estus’ retirement as full-time pastor, the couple servedin 10 interim pastorates at churches in Copiah, Hinds and Lincolncounties in Mississippi. They also worked as short-term volunteermissionaries in Michigan, Arizona and Washington state and as thefirst Volunteer Mission Coordinators for the Mississippi BaptistConvention. An unusually delightful privilege was their being askedto pastor the Baptist English-speaking church in Stavanger, Norway,for three months. Also Gertrude and Estus were blessed during hispastorate at First Baptist Church, Crystal Springs, with thecongregation’s “love gifts” enabling them to travel with Baptistgroups to mission opportunities in South Africa and the Holy Land.Estus was privileged to preach in Palestine and to lead the groupin prayer at Jesus’ tomb. They toured Europe for a month by trainbefore serving in Norway and twice visited Greece, includingCorinth and Ephesus where the Apostle Paul preached.

Gertrude Mason lived her life in service to her God and to herfamily, the calling to which in her youth she had dedicated herlife. Her life reflected love and joy because of her personalrelationship with Jesus Christ, her Savior and Lord. Gertrude’sfavorite Bible verse was Philippians 4:28: “All things worktogether for good to those who love Christ and who are calledaccording to his purpose.”

Gertrude was predeceased by Estus, her husband for 59 years.

In addition to two daughters, Anne Bass and Sara Barnes; twosisters, Frances, Lorraine Burkhalter; and two sisters-in-law,Ramoth Burkhalter and Nell Hayes; several nieces and nephews, sheis survived and loved by eight grandchildren, 13great-grandchildren, and 2 great-great-grandchildren, all of whomwill miss their mother, sister, grandmom, and “Nonny,” as theyremember her love, prayers, and Christian guidance.

Memorials may be given to the building fund at the First BaptistChurch, Crystal Springs.