Rev. Lydia M.G. Starks, 89, founded Fellowship Baptist

September 21, 2005|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,sun reporter

The Rev. Lydia M.G. Starks, a cosmetologist-turned-pastor who founded Fellowship Baptist Temple Church, died of pancreatitis Thursday, her 89th birthday, at Northwest Hospital Center in Randallstown. She was a longtime Forest Park resident.

She was born Lydia Minerva Green in Paterson, N.J., one of 11 children of the Rev. Joshua Henry Green, who moved his family to Baltimore when he established New Metropolitan Baptist Church.

During the 1930s, Mrs. Starks studied cosmetology at George Washington Carver Vocational High School and was a night school graduate of Douglass High School.

After her 1942 marriage to R.T. Starks, a mechanic, she became a homemaker and raised three children. Her husband died in the early 1970s.

In the 1950s, Mrs. Starks established several beauty salons in the city, including the Edgewood Beauty Salon, which she owned and operated through the 1960s.

Family members said she enrolled at the old Virginia Seminary and College in Lynchburg, Va., in the mid-1960s, her graduation there following in the footsteps of her parents, a brother and an uncle and aunt. She also earned an associate's degree in communications from the Community College of Denver in 1973.

She preached her trial sermon in 1970 at Park Heights Baptist Temple, where her brother, the Rev. Joshua Webster Green, was pastor. After being ordained in 1971, she became co-pastor at her brother's church until 1975, when she established Fellowship Baptist Temple at Rogers and Park Heights avenues.

A decade later she retired from her church, which later disbanded, and became assistant pastor at Harlem Park Community Baptist Church, where she continued working until about a month ago.

"She had had Christ in her life and heart from an early age and had come from a religious family. After retiring from her own church, she came to us and worked diligently in our missionary ministry," said the Rev. Raymond Kelly, pastor at Harlem Park.

"Lydia was a dynamic speaker, and so many people were moved by her message. An extraordinary singer-soprano who sang many leads in our anthems, she also wrote hymns. Music was all around her," Dr. Kelly said.

Mrs. Starks expanded her role from the missionary ministry and became involved with hospital visitations and providing food and clothing for the needy.

Mrs. Starks was active in many church-related organizations and had been treasurer of the Progressive Baptist Ministers Conference and secretary-treasurer of the Baptist Ministerial Alliance. She had been a vice president and executive board member of the Hampton Ministers Conference in Virginia.

She was an avid collector of salt and pepper shakers.

Services will begin with a wake at 10 a.m. tomorrow at Harlem Park Community Baptist, 614 N. Gilmor St.

Survivors include a son, Rodney G. Starks of Randallstown; two daughters, Cozette Pinkney of Woodlawn and Simone Wheeler of Forest Park; five grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.

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