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Founding member of Chicago Heights church celebrates 100th birthday

Updated: July 18, 2014 6:13AM



Family, friends and church members gathered Saturday in the fellowship hall of New Hope Baptist Church in Chicago Heights to celebrate the birthday of not only the church’s oldest living member ever, but a founding member whose fingerprints will always be on the church.

Birder Roberts, of Richton Park, turned 100 Saturday. To celebrate, New Hope Church held a birthday dinner to acknowledge the milestone.

Roberts said she still feels well.

“I feel all right, just weak,” Roberts said. “I can’t get around like I used to.”

Roberts, of Richton Park, uses a walking cane but still lives independently. Nurses check on her a few days a week, as does her oldest son, who stays close enough — as in across the street — to keep an eye on her.

L.T. Roberts has lived across the street from his mother for 27 years.

“When she said she wanted to buy a house when she left Chicago Heights, my wife didn’t want her to get too far,” L.T. Roberts said. “So I found one across the street, and she found one.

“I go over there every day and check her out to see if she’s OK and to pay her bills, and she does fine,” he said. “I wouldn’t want any more.”

Many members of New Hope Baptist Church came to celebrate Birder’s milestone birthday. She said she holds New Hope Church in her heart after helping build the church in the late 1970s.

“I helped build it, I mean, I was working,” Roberts said. “I was sawing, nailing, climbing and then helped paint it.”

The Rev. Cleotha Bates, a minister at New Hope Church as well as a niece of Roberts, said Roberts is a powerful woman of God.

“Christ has always been the head of her life,” Bates said. “Even though she’s my aunt, she’s also a mother. Whatever you need, if she has it, she’ll give it. Just myself, as a woman, wants to be like her.”



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