Hers was a life well lived
by The Press and Standard | October 5, 2018 5:00 am
Last Updated: October 3, 2018 at 10:05 am
The Rev. Bertha L. Givens passed away at age 97 on Saturday Sept. 22. Many people in Green Pond and across Colleton County paused to mourn briefly, along with her family — then they were filled with the joy of the fond memories of how she touched their lives. The life and legacy of Rev. Givens will be remembered and honored at the home-going service that has been planned for this Saturday Oct. 6. Rev. Givens, who was an ordained minister in the A.M.E. church, will be honored by the A.M.E. church denomination. In addition, it is expected that U.S. Senator Hon. Tim Scott and U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, as well as Colleton County Council and other local and state officials, will honor and recognize the contributions that Rev. Givens made over her life.
The life and legacy of Rev. Givens provides an example of what it means to be a person of character, a true Christian and a very giving, deeply caring person of unwavering courage. For 48 years, Rev. Givens was a supportive and devoted wife to her late husband, Sam Givens, until his passing in 1989. Together they reared their children to be God-fearing, God-loving, upstanding citizens, and all grew to be successful in their chosen career paths: nurses, accountants, pastors, law enforcement, educators, home healthcare, successful business owners and banking. Three of her sons served with distinction in the United States Army — two are decorated Vietnam veterans who were awarded three Purple Hearts.
In addition to rearing her own biological children and assisting with rearing grandchildren and great-grandchildren, Rev. Givens, also, opened her heart and her home to 35 foster children, as well as numerous children within the community and across her extended family. “She had an abundance of love and touched many lives. The core matriarch of her entire extended family, Rev. Givens was also a major pillar in the greater Green Pond community,” said her son, Henry Givens.
For most of her adult life, numerous people in the Green Pond community, as well as across Colleton County and other parts of the country, sought the counsel and comfort of Rev. Givens when they faced severe life challenges. Through her counsel, many marriages were preserved or restored. Mothers and wives, fathers and husbands, benefited from her wealth of wisdom and calm demeanor. On several occasions, armed only with her Bible, her gentle voice and her strong faith in God, she interceded and diffused incidents that could have resulted in violence and death by bringing calm to armed and enraged individuals and convincing them to relinquish their weapons and opt for peace. Young people came to her for advice. Mothers came to her for comfort when facing tragedy. Fathers confided in her for counsel and to share anxiety.
For many years, she served as a class leader and an associate pastor of her church, Mt. Olive A.M.E., in Green Pond. She served in prison outreach ministry for several years. “Her life of impeccable integrity in ministry is a standard for all in the clergy and in other positions of church leadership, to which they could aspire. For decades, she touched the lives of many through her selfless caring and giving,” Henry said.
Rev. Givens founded a major community outreach program, Harvest Day. For 44 years (over half of her adult life), she hosted the annual Harvest Day program at Mt. Olive Church, during which people were taught God’s word, and she displayed and gave away produce and homemade preserves, which she personally planted and harvested in her garden and on her farm.
To ensure that elderly residents in nursing homes were remembered and felt valued, Rev. Givens participated in conducting Bible studies at nursing homes, after which she would give the residents hand-sewn quilts that she made throughout the year for the sole purpose of presenting to the elderly and sick in nursing homes, hospitals and their homes.
“Her loving motivation and zero desire for personal recognition never changed. Over the years of her life ministry, she blessed thousands of people and gave gifts valued at hundreds of thousands of dollars. Her life and legacy provide an example and an inspiration to us all. Hers was a life well lived,” Henry said.