Lufkin community giving back to Rev. Kennedy

By Whitney Grunder - email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Reverend Bettie Kennedy is used to giving, with no thought of receiving anything in return. Friday night, the community is honoring her for dedicating years of service.

She says she's a lot like the Energizer bunny.

"You know, she just keeps going and going," said Guessippina Bonner, a citizens advocate who works with Kennedy.

With 79 years of life, Kennedy has not wasted a moment.

"I think about a scripture that said he who wishes to be the greatest in the Kingdom of God has got to be a servant," said Pastor Robert Gipson of Long Chapel CME. "And she truly is a servant."

"She's an inspiration to the whole community," Angelina County court-at-law Judge Bob Inselmann said.

Kennedy has served in the church since she was a child. She pastored and taught in Lufkin for decades.

"She's inspired me to be more in touch with God and everybody else," said Sarah Cook, 9.

Her work in the community has touched lives all around East Texas.

"Her feeding programs, being on the streets," said Lela Simmons, who has known Kennedy all of her life. "Helping anybody."

"When I get down and depressed, I go to the streets and find that there are others who are more in need than I am, and I am generated," Kennedy said.

As a young girl, she attended a segregated school, while living in a diverse Lufkin neighborhood. She carries these stories with her, to share.

Kennedy has been doing character work for years, so that children can understand black history. She's also dedicated to preserving stories here in East Texas.

"We have few books that's been written that carry the black man's story so I'm hoping I can get books together," she said.

Everything she does, is for God and the people around her.

"When she wakes up every morning she says God where do you want me to go and she's gone," her daughter, Betell Lewis Benham, said.

Kennedy's humanitarian appreciation dinner and concert is Friday night at the Lufkin Civic Center.

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