Religion News: 96-year-old piano player an inspiration to congregants

Dorothy Chambers plays the piano Tuesday during a service at the Bay View Nursing Home in Beaufort. Chambers, 96, plays the piano twice a week for services at two senior care centers.
Dorothy Chambers plays the piano Tuesday during a service at the Bay View Nursing Home in Beaufort. Chambers, 96, plays the piano twice a week for services at two senior care centers. Jonathan Dyer/The Beaufort Gazette

While she might need a walker or a wheelchair to get to the piano bench, 96-year-old Dorothy Chambers' fingers can find their way around the keyboard.

Her vision has faded, and she plays hymns by ear.

"I can't see the music, but if there is anything I can hum, I can play," Chambers said.

Every other Thursday she plays for communion services at her home at River Oaks Residential Care in Port Royal. On Tuesdays she travels to Bay View Nursing Center in Beaufort to play for about 20 faithful followers during alternating prayer and communion services at 10:45 a.m.

For 20 years, she played the piano and led the choir at the Parish Church of St. Helena (Episcopal) in Beaufort.

Her music is uplifting, and her spirit is contagious.

"She's an inspiration," said Renee Sutton, assistant activities director at Bay View. "She comes in here at her age to play and she's so aware and alert. I'll use her as an example for other residents and say, 'If she can play the piano, you can do this.'"

Chambers began taking piessons around age 8 with encouragement from her mother.

"I loved being able to make music," Chambers said.

An only child, she and her mother moved to Beaufort in the 1920s from Charlotte to open a bed and breakfast. After attending Queens College, she married Owen Chambers, a U.S. Marine officer at Parris Island. They married in 1939 in St. Helena's church, had two sons and lived on various bases. In the 1960s, they retired in Beaufort where she and a friend opened a dress shop in downtown Beaufort.

As Chambers played on a recent Tuesday at Bay View, voices rose to sing along and feet began tapping, hands clapping.

"She does it so good and she's done it for so long," said Hildred Collier, 96, a Bay View resident who sang in the choir under Chambers' direction.

Debbie Pate, a member of The Parish Church of St. Helena, is in awe of Chambers. "I think it is remarkable at her age that she is able to get up, get dressed and get down here to play piano for this group."

Chambers credits her endurance and longevity to God.

"The Lord is in charge of everything. He is in charge of giving me this gift to play and he is allowing me to stay and share it," Chambers said.


Brick Baptist Church continues its second Women's Conference today and Sunday. The theme is "The Power of Prayer." The Rev. Patricia Crawford, associate minister at Mount Moriah Missionary Baptist Church in Charleston, will lead the Women's Day Conference from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. today. Registration is $10. The Rev. Brendolyn Jenkins, executive director of the Imani Group in Aiken, will lead the service at 4 p.m. Sunday. To register, call Carolyn Simmons, 843-838-3033. The church is on Martin L. King Jr. Drive, St. Helena Island.


The Scottsville Baptist Church Family concludes the celebration of its pastor's seventh anniversary at noon and 3 p.m. Sunday. Guest churches are: noon, First African Baptist Church on St. Helena Island and the Rev. Dr. Elijah Washington; and 3 p.m., Jehovah Church of Jesus Christ and Elder Henry Chisholm. The church is at 110 Olde Church Road, St. Helena.

Details: 843-838-1260


Women carrying loaves of bread in tote bags designed by a Chilean grandmother will start the World Day of Prayer worship service for women of the Bluffton and Hilton Head churches at Campbell Chapel AME Church at 12:30 p.m. today. Women are invited to bring a dish to share at the potluck luncheon in the Community Hall. "How Many Loaves Have You?" is the theme of the worship service, which will be conducted by members of Bluffton/Hilton Head Church Women United in the Campbell Chapel sanctuary following the luncheon.

Details: Judy Lundin, 843-290-4994,


St. Mark's Chapel will celebrate Mardi Gras with a party for all ages from 5-8 p.m. today at the Pleasant Point Plantation Club House on Lady's Island. The party will feature games, a mask-making contest, a movie for children, music and dancing. Food will include gumbo, hot dogs and king cake. Reservations are required; call 843-522-9948. St. Mark's Chapel holds Sunday school at 10 a.m. each Sunday in the Historic Union Church, 1004 11th St., Port Royal.


The Holmes Women's Auxiliary will conclude the celebration of the 30th annual Women's Day at 4 p.m. Sunday. The Rev. Marilyn Wade of First African Baptist Church of Port Royal will speak. The church is at 1708 Old Shell Road, Port Royal.

Details: 843-524-8589


The Rev. Nan L. White will discuss "Many Beliefs, One Light" at 10 a.m. Sunday at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Beaufort. The fellowship meets at 178 Sams Point Road, Lady's Island.

Details: 843-838-1399


Because of special invitations to other churches, morning worship at Faith Memorial Baptist Church will start at 10 a.m. Sunday.

Details: 843-838-2362, 843-525-6799


Second Mount Carmel Baptist Church of Burton continues its celebration of the 16th anniversary and appreciation of its pastor and his wife, the Rev. Michael and Betty Haskins, at 3 p.m. Sunday. The Rev. Chauncey Campbell of Old Fort Baptist Church will speak. The church is at 236 Joe Frazier Road, Beaufort.

Details: 843-846-9404


Mah-jongg and bridge are from 1-4 p.m. every Monday in the Walsh Palmetto Room at St. Peter Catholic Church, 70 Lady's Island Drive, Beaufort. New players are welcome. Participants are asked to pay $3 and contribute two cans of food. Instruction is available and refreshments are served. All proceeds go to St. Vincent de Paul Outreach, a ministry of St. Peter Catholic Church, which provides grocery staples, meat, fresh produce and bread to more than 900 local families each month in Beaufort, Jasper, Hampton and Colleton counties.

Details: 843-525-6079


Beth Moore will deliver a DVD-based lecture series based on the book of Revelation from 6-7:45 p.m. on Tuesdays through April 12 at Resurrection Christian Church. The church is at 296 Spanish Wells Road, Hilton Head Island.

Details: 843-689-3625,


Pastor Henry Chisholm, pastor of Jehovah Church of Jesus Christ, will speak from noon-12:45 p.m. Wednesday at the Lunch Hour of Power in Helen Galloway's Memorial Chapel of Chisholm Galloway Home for Funerals, 808 Bladen St., Beaufort.

Details: 843-524-6634


First Presbyterian Church will hold an Ash Wednesday worship service at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. Lenten services of prayer and healing begin at 6:30 p.m. Wednesdays, March 16 through April 13, preceded by a fellowship dinner at 5:15 p.m. Sermons on Sundays during Lent and a six-week Lenten small group study at the church are based on the book "Sinning Like a Christian: A New Look at the Seven Deadly Sins," by William H. Willimon. The Lenten study will begin March 13. If interested in joining a Lenten small group, call the church office at 843-681-3696. The church is at 540 William Hilton Parkway.

Details: 843-681-3696,


"The Journey of the Jews: A Cultural Study" continues from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Wednesday at Congregation Beth Yam. Rabbi Brad Bloom leads the discussion series that continues through May. One session each month will be held at the Bluffton library. This week's topic is "Jewish Culture in Greco-Roman Palestine." Participants are invited to bring their lunch. Future topics are: March 16, "Babylonian Rabbinic Culture" at the temple; and March 23, "Jewish Culture at the Beginning of Islam" at the Bluffton library. The synagogue is at 4501 Meeting St., Hilton Head Island.

Details: 843-689-2178


Joyful Sound, North Greenville University's Baptist Student Union Ensemble, will present a concert at 7 p.m. Wednesday at St. Helena Baptist Church. Concerts feature contemporary and traditional Christian music by the 11 singers and five members of the band. A covered dish supper begins at 6 p.m. A nursery will be provided. The church is at 1610 Sea Island Parkway, St. Helena Island.

Details: 843-838-3109


Servants of God International Outreach Tabernacle will host the Rev. Jacqueline Crawford's 11th pastoral anniversary services at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Friday, with close-out services at 4 p.m. March 13.

Speakers are: Wednesday, Pastor Rufus Fripp, Highest Praise Ministries, Lady's Island; Thursday, the Rev. Charles Powell, Good News Baptist Church, Burton; Friday, Pastor Calvin Mikell, Revelatory Ministries, Beaufort; and Sunday, Apostle Jerome Middleton, Church of the Harvest Apostolic, St. Helena Island.

Jacqueline G. Harley School of Ministry, a division of Servants of God Ministries of Seabrook, is accepting registration for spring classes through March 19. Spring class being offered is "Great Doctrines of the Christian Faith, Section 2."

Details: 843-846-6017


Providence Presbyterian Church will hold Ash Wednesday services at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in the sanctuary. The church is at 11171 Cordillo Parkway, Hilton Head Island.

Details: 843-842-5673


El Shaddai Ministries of Walterboro will hold a two-night youth revival with the theme "Youth Ablaze Setting A Standard For Praise" at 7 p.m. Friday with Minister Phillip Taylor and at 6 p.m. March 12 with Minister Antonio Smith of New Life in Christ of Orangeburg. The church meets at 1121 Hampton St., Walterboro.

Details: Rosa Middleton, 843-838-4444; Debra Turedale, 843-599-1668


Angel Food orders may be placed from 10 a.m.-noon March 12 at Grace and Truth Gospel Chapel, 1161 Sea Island Parkway, St. Helena Island; from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. March 17 at Shell Point Baptist Church, 871 Parris Island Gateway, Beaufort; and from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. March 14 and from 10 a.m.-noon March 19 at St. John's Lutheran Church, 157 Lady's Island Drive, Beaufort.

Orders are taken Monday through Saturday at Life House Church, 40 Faith Station, Beaufort. Details: 843-379-9673

Orders may be picked up from 9-10 a.m. March 26 at St. John's.

Online orders may be placed at