“100 Years Loved” was the sign on the wall at Rev. Marion E. Burkett’s birthday party at Sugar Grove Church of the Nazarene in the village of Tunker, Ind. on Good Friday afternoon, April 15.
Earlier in the day, Rev. Burkett had conducted a Good Friday service at his residence, the Columbia City Miller’s Merry Manor. He shared that he had become a Christian believer 85 years before. His sons Rev. David Burkett, wife Julie, and daughter Molly from Franklin, Pa., and Rev. Phil Burkett and wife Darlene from Cass city, Mich., led in singing “The Old Rugged Cross” and “One Day,” accompanied by Phil on the accordion. Phil also sang an a capella solo of “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?”
Two members of the nursing home staff assisted Rev. Burkett in serving communion to approximately 40 residents and guests. Rev. Amos Rawley, pastor of New Hope United Brethren church in Huntington, gave the benediction.
At 2:00 p.m., the party began in Tunker, hosted by M. E. Burkett’s son Dr. Mark and Sandy Burkett. Delicious hot food and desserts were served guests from the church kitchen.
Special music was provided by sons David, Mark, and Phil, along with other family members. The family group sang two favorites of the guest of honor, “Life is Like a Mountain Railroad,” and “Trust and Obey,” with Darlene Burkett at the piano.
Approximately 75 members of the family and friends had come to celebrate the 100th birthday.
On Monday, the staff of Miller’s Merry Manor surprised him with another party with a huge cake and the release of 100 balloons.
Rev. Burkett grew up in a United Brethren church in Monroe, Mich. He was ordained as a United Brethren minister in 1946, and in the years ahead served in ministry in many ways. He pastored churches in a half-dozen states, served as a missionary in Sierra Leone for two terms in the 1950s and another term in 1971, served in Kentucky at the UB Laurel Mission and the United Methodist Redbird Mission, planted a UB church in Pima, Arizona…and so much more. It was fitting that he would spend his 100th birthday serving communion.
Rev. Burkett and his wife of 73 years, Frances, raised four sons. David and Phil became ordained United Brethren ministers and missionaries, and Mark became a medical doctor. The fourth son, Stephen, died of cancer in 1990.