Living a remarkable seventy-five years within the embrace of a singular place of worship is a testament to dedication. Theresa “TOREATHA” Mae Rogers Kelly exhibited this steadfast commitment to her beloved congregation for an astonishing 75 years.
At the tender age of 10, she received her baptism by the late Reverend J. S. Wicks at the New Hope Baptist Church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. This church was co-founded by her parents, Lolo and Luella Rogers, along with her aunt and uncle, Mazarene and Xavier Burrell.
Theresa embarked on her journey as a servant-leader at ten and tirelessly continued her unwavering devotion to Jesus. She actively participated in various church auxiliaries, from serving as an assistant secretary, engaging in mission ministry, prayer bands, and deaconess roles to being an original member of one of the city’s most soul-stirring gospel choirs.
Under the guidance of revered leaders like the late Scottie Robinson, Melvin Heatey, William Smart, Deborah Robinson, and ultimately the brilliant Anthony Canty, Theresa’s voice lifted spirits and hearts. She instilled her passion for the church in her children, bringing them to Sunday school and vacation Bible school, passing down the legacy of devotion. Her daughter followed in her footsteps, joining her sister Jaqueline and brother Cleo Rogers in uplifting the congregation with their soulful voices within the humble white church on North 46th Street.
On September 21, 2023, Theresa Kelly transitioned from this life in El Paso, Texas, but her spirit returned home. Her home-going celebration took place on October 7th at the new location of New Hope Baptist Church, 5856 Greenwell Springs Road, officiated by her pastor of more than 45 years, Reverend Dr. Leo D. Cyrus Sr.
Theresa’s life and legacy were honored with a final procession down the 3900 block of Chippewa Street, where she resided for 46 years in the 70805 area. The journey continued to the church, where she dedicated “75” years of her life to devoted service. Her only daughter, Mydra L. Kelly, delivered a heartfelt eulogy, and the Capital High School graduating class of 1956, her friends, and co-workers from Earl K. Long Memorial Hospital, where she faithfully served for 25 plus years until retirement, all joined in the celebration of a life well-lived.
The church was overflowing with family, bonus children, relatives, and friends who expressed their gratitude and love for a quiet soldier who profoundly impacted their lives. In an array of beautiful plants and flowers, she was tenderly laid to rest at the Winnfield Memorial Park Cemetery, her final earthly abode. Theresa’s journey transcended from Baton Rouge to Bright Glory.
Her remarkable resilience in facing battles, conquering cancer and heart failure, and surviving several strokes was a testament to her faith. Through it all, she fought valiantly and completed her course, earning her wings as her mansion in heaven was being prepared. God remained faithful throughout her life, even in the face of heartbreak and adversity. With every breath she could muster, Theresa sang, spoke, and shared the goodness of God with the world. An embodiment of strength at 85 years, her life was truly well-lived. Rest now, faithful servant, until your crown is bestowed upon you.