CHIRENO, TX (KTRE) - An East Texas woman started attending a small rural church as an 8-year-old orphan, now 80 years later she is still dedicated to that same church.
Lilly Stone says Chireno United Methodist Church helped raise her.
In Chireno, a town of just over 400 people, there is a small two story unassuming church. Its a place 88-year-old Lilly Stone has called home for more than 80 years.
In 1933, at age 8, Stone came to live with her grandmother next to Chireno United Methodist Church.
"I was an orphan. My mother died and dad when I was real young," said Stone.
"I lived next door to the Methodist parsonage and my grandmother's health was really bad and they had no children and they asked if they could take me so I started coming over here with them."
Even after she moved to San Marcus at 18 to attend a Baptist academy, she remained dedicated to her membership with the church.
"People were just very good to me and I stayed in a lot of their homes, visited and stayed and they were good to me," said Stone.
Stone would follow her husband who fought in World War II to Kansas, Alabama, Georgia and even Hawaii but she always found her way back to Chireno and through the doors of the all too familiar church.
"I didn't believe in changing because we're all trying to land at the same place after this life," said Stone. "God blessed me in many many ways because I had no guidance really growing up except what I got in the church so I guess I always knew that there was someone greater than me or you and stayed."
And from the pew Stone sits in every Sunday she can look up at the stained glass window that meant so much to her growing up.
"I remember looking at this one as a child and I picture Jesus as a kind, loving man because I see him packing the baby sheep," said Stone. "I sort of always lived my life remembering that you know if I did anything or said anything that was unkind I thought of the church and that picture would Jesus be happy with the way I'm behaving. We all make mistakes and Jesus loves you. I think of that when I make mistakes and ask forgiveness."
Lilly celebrated her 88th birthday earlier this month and her longtime-unbroken membership was honored with a plaque signed by the church's bishop and district superintendent.