The Legacy of Molly Graham

Sally Graham-Bryant Descendent Jake Bryant Sr. Grandson Great-Grand Daughter Bertha L. Givens


The Legacy of Molly Graham continues highlighting her great granddaughter Bertha Lee Bryant-Givens. She was the daughter of Jake and Rebecca Bryant. Reverend Bertha L. Bryant-Givens was the second of seven-child born to the late Jake and Rebecca Bryant, in Green Pond, SC.

Rev. Givens was born March 31, 1921, in Green Pond, South Carolina. She was married to the late Sam Givens Sr, from Hickory Hill, Green Pond, S.C. They were joined in holy matrimony on September 30, 1941.

Reverend Bertha Lee Bryant-Givens was a Local Preacher at Mount Olive African Methodist Episcopal Church, in Green Pond, SC, she was a Missionary Worker, Peacemaker, and a marriage counselor within her family and her community family. She provided Prayer and marriage counselor service when requested by both black and white families.

She was the proud parent of eight children. She said on many occasions, “That if l know that all of my children would have turn out this good l would have asked God for eight more.” She was also blessed with Seventeen grandchildren, twelve great grandchildren and were foster parents to over thirty-five children, many of whom call and visit until her going home celebration to her Heavenly Father. She knew that it was her responsibility to be a stand-in-parent for God until they could stand for themselves.

Her childhood and school days came to a major halt when she quit school in the fifth grade at Green Pond Elementary School in Green Pond, S.C. to help her mother with the rearing of her younger siblings. She realized how difficult it was for her mother to work on the farm and manage her home and care for her twin sisters and younger brother. She educated herself by reading the Bible and her sisters’ schoolbooks at night.

She stated, “I made a choice to quit school to help my mother because I couldn’t stand it any longer to see her sometimes fight back the tears.”

After seeing that all her children got an education she returns and continued her own education and became a Minister herself. Rev. Givens joined Mt. Olive AME Church in August of 1957. She received her call to the Ministry in 1977.

Rev. Givens was ordained as an A.M.E. minister in 1989. She was ordained as a local Preacher assigned at Mt. Olive A.M.E. Church. She was a member of the senior choir. She was a member of the Stewardess Board No.1, and former President of the Women Missionary Society for 16 years, and Class Leader for Class number 3, and sponsor for the “Annual seven speaker program.

In 1996, she received another blessing when she travels from the rice field in South Carolina to the Jordan River in Israel and travel with her on the Jericho Road to Gethsemane. She knew that God’s final gift is the gift to remember.

Her hobbies included reading the Bible, canning her vegetables, and quilting. She clearly said to her children and all who would take heed to listen: “Always reach for the stars; man has touch and walked on the moon. You must continue to be steadfast unmovable always abide by the Word of God; and God will give you the desires of your heart.

Rev. Givens did all her missionary work in Beaufort and Colleton County community. As her life story unfold, it renders an account of hope and provides factual and eloquent information of God’s unlimited blessing upon her and her family.

Reverend Givens did not harbor her love within her home; she, however, gave and rendered love, hope and encouragement to countless people in her church, and her community as well.

She started out in life lower than most and she rose higher than most. She didn’t let her fear become bigger than faith. Today, her children and her foster children stand on the shoulders of a giant. Yes, we are referring to Rev. Bertha L. Bryant-Givens.

She was the Founder and Missionary of the “Seed and Harvest Program” at Mt. Olive AME Church in Green Pond, South Carolina. At the golden age of ninety-two, Rev. Givens continued to maintain an active farm and garden.

For more than thirty years, after canning her harvest, Reverend Givens had sponsored the “Harvest Day” program where she gave most of her canned harvest to senior citizens. Well over 150 families receive a harvest basket each year from her garden.

She wanted them to have a Thanksgiving dinner made with fresh vegetables from her garden. Also, she canned enough vegetables to share with family and her community. Both black and white. She learned how to can her fruits and vegetables just like she was taught by her mother, and like her great grandmother also she can stitch patches and make all her Quilts.

Reverend Givens also delivered hand-made quilts which she made and delivered them to every senior citizen in the nursing home from the community for Christmas. She would pray with them and hold mini-Christmas sermons. She delivered well over 100 hand-made quilts.

When you ask her why she did it, she would tell you “That the senior citizens in the nursing homes needed a warm quilt in the wintertime”. And she didn’t want them to be cold while they were trying to sleep. Her quilts were beautiful handmade and many of the staff at the nursing homes wanted to buy them, she just said no, not for sale. Giving is a responsibility. Giving is an opportunity. Giving is her response to God for all that God had done for her and her family.

Let us celebrate black history month with great moments in black history. Reverend Bertha Givens story dates to the pre-civil war era. She tells the story of how her great grandmother Molly Graham and her three daughters barely escaped the snares of slavery from the Rebels’ soldiers.

From reading her Bible, Rev. Givens understood that “Seed and Harvest” is God’s methods of operation. God had commanded the earth to bring forth all kinds of seeds that was within. She knew that it was just like planting a garden, it was like raising a family too. She knew that the earth was obedience to God, and she had to be obedience to God by proving a Godly home for family and community. The earth was obedient and so was she.

Reverend Bertha Givens raised her family, her foster and some of her siblings’ children base on God’s “Method of Seed and Harvest.” She knew that planting seeds and raising children is the same. Just as God has commanded the earth to bring forth all the seed within. Rev. Givens planted the right seed within the hearts of her children, her foster children, and some of her siblings and her community family so that their hearts would bring forth good fruits.

She planted the seeds of love for their spiritual growth. “Love thy neighbor as thy self.” She taught them to respect and love each other. Do not become jealous of anyone. God has blessed everyone with their gift and each gift is different. She taught them how to share, if one is in need all is in need. If you had only one stick of chewing gum, you must pinch it in as many pieces as you can and give each one a piece.

She planted the seed of who you are. What type of clothing were you wearing. She was not concerned with the labels inside our clothing but was concerned with what was inside our hearts. And she wasn’t concerned about the size of our shoes, but she was concerned about where we were walking.

She planted the seeds of discipline. “When you are a child, you speak like a child.” and “Train up the child.” She didn’t want her family to act like untrained children before we became adults, and before they reached the age of twenty-one. She would say to us, “I brought you into this world and I will take you out of this world.”

The next thing you will hear is, “You’ll never get too big or too tall, where I can’t chop you down to size.” She would say that it better to cry now than later. She didn’t want to wait until the police came and brought her the bad news.

She planted the seed of worshiping God. She taught her family about going to church on Sunday and giving God all the praise and thanking him for our blessing was a priority in our household. We were told that “If you can’t get up and go to church on Sunday morning, you can’t go out on Saturday night.” She taught her family about the gospel and not about gossip. If you don’t have anything nice to say about someone don’t say anything, keep your mouth shut.

She did everything in her power to share her personal faith story with her family. She models her faith through her lifestyle, and her activities. By sharing her faith with her family and community family she was able to impact her family and her community beyond her years.

She was always setting a good example for her family by her deeds and in her actions. She never drank alcohol, smoked, or hung out at night clubs, and her family never saw her out on the dance floor. But her family have seen doing her Jesus dance on the church floor. She didn’t march in the Civil Rights Movement, but she walked in search for Jesus Christ.

She planted the seed of obedience. She knew one act of obedience is better than a hundred sermons. Her heart was filled with joy to see that her children were obedient. In her desire to build godliness into her children’s lives, she wanted to be sure that obedience was on their list of character qualities and obedience is pleasing to God. Obey God’s Commandments and Honor thy Parents.

Rev. Givens was clothed with authority. She was the right source. And her family, her children and her foster children fully honor that authority. And you didn’t want that authority to come down from the choir stand in church or must take off from work to come to your school to correct your problem.

When she started stammering, we knew that she meant business. Everyone in our family knows that mom was a very lovable person, but you don’t want to get on her bad side, as oldest brother would say, “When she starts stammering and stumping her feet you better watch out.”

Her family and her community family always stayed on the good side this 5’5” feet, one hundred- and ten-pound women who made you believe that she could do anything she wanted to do. She always stands ready to oppose and fend off anyone who tries to suppress her family and her community family and stood firm against any activity that was an obstacle to our full growth and helped them to develop a defense against the head winds of the world. Mon didn’t force herself on her family, but she made sure that their values and religious beliefs were made strong.

Rev. Givens was well respected in her presence community. When some of her family or her community family were in her presence or saw her coming, they would put their cigarette out and hide their alcohol. They would not smoke or drink alcohol in front of her.

Rev, Givens didn’t want anybody to give her anything free. She only wanted the door open so she could get herself. So could provide for her family. She was born with a little inheritance but received a lifetime of inheritance filled with love.

She planted the seed of Unity for her family success, and survival, from the Bible story of two brothers, Jacob, and Esau. The seed that was planted in Jacob was planted at the wrong time and at the wrong season which cause division within the family for a long time until God reunite the family. Jacob had to recognize the headwinds by himself and face all his headwinds by himself.

Rev. Givens knew that some of the head winds that her family would be facing are Racism, Peer Pressure, Drugs, and Poverty, but they will no matches for their faith in God and the unity and strength from your family support. She made sure that they knew all the headwinds that can prevent them from being successful and how to handle the headwinds in this world.

Then she planted the seed of a perfect formation for her family to be successful. That is, there can be only one leader at a time and the older sibling must lead first. When the older gets tired, pass it on to the next in line. Passing on their lesson learned experiences to the next in line.

She planted the seed of One God, One Blood One Family.” A family that prays together stays together”. When the older sibling gets tired, they must pass it on to the next in line. She must have observed geese in flight. Geese flies in a V-shape formation, as fast as ninety miles per hour, honking only to let the next goose in line move forward to take the lead and the older leader would take its place at the rear of the formation. Geese fly as high as 29,000 feet, and by flying in a V-shape formation one behind the other and taking their turn flying the lead this would enable all to make the long journey from South to North without any of them dropping out.

She understood that when flying in the lead, you must fly harder. But when you are not in the lead, you can rest behind the other at the end of the formation. Therefore, all the geese would reach their destination. The older child must set the success road for the next in line. If they pray together and honk for the next sibling in line in Jesus Name, then all of them can face the headwinds together and reached their destination.

Today, we remembered her proudly saying that God had answered her prayers and blessed her children. Today her family stand waist deep into the past, while keeping an eye on the future. This could not and would have never happened without their strong faith and belief in God.

God’s continuing blessing to the Molly Graham descendants.