*Dr. Laverne Wimberly, 82, is a dedicated member of the Metropolitan Baptist Church in Tulsa, which switched to online service in March 2020. Every week since then, she gets dressed to the Nines, complete with a colorful hat, jewelry, and a big smile for the virtual service.
She posts each outfit on Facebook online along with encouraging words. The retired teacher, principal, and school administrator hopes to inspire others to stay motivated during the ongoing pandemic.
“I just decided at that point I’m just going to get dressed as if I was going to church, so I would not get into the habit of just slouching around,” Wimberly told WVLT.
She keeps track of her outfits in a journal, so she doesn’t repeat any.
“I wanted not only to keep myself motivated, but I wanted to help keep others motivated as well, to inspire them, encourage them, and kind of eradicate some types and forms of depression, isolation, fear and despair,” Wimberly said.
Churchgoers and Facebook followers have fallen in love with Wimberly’s style.
“I got a lot of feedback, more feedback than I wanted on the way I looked,” Wimberly said. “I really wanted them to focus on the message. I did have to say one time during one of those posts, to focus on the message rather than on me.”
When the baptist church moved Sunday worship online last March 29, Wimberly decided to dress up for virtual church and post it on Facebook.
“I would see Dr. Wimberly every Sunday morning,” said Minister of Worship Merton Huff. “She was the first person in the sanctuary with me.”
Huff is ready to welcome members back, and Wimberly says she is ready to go back to church.
“I don’t think she has missed a Sunday of just devotionals, encouragement. It’s like she gives you a sermon before service even starts. It gives you something to focus on,” Huff said. “And, you know, of course the dressing up, it made my kids get dressed.”
Wimberly intends to wait until COVID experts say it’s safe for in-person church services.
“As soon as the health officials and the scientists give us the green light that everything will be safe, I’ll probably be the first one in the door,” she said.