(Photo: Wikimedia Commons/File)
A church organist in Southmont, N.C., has set the new Guinness Book of World Records for having the longest career as a church organist or pianist.
Martha Godwin, 87, has been consecutively playing the organ at Macedonia United Methodist Church in Southmont County for the past 73 years. She started playing the organ at the church when she was only 13 years old in April 1940, and recalls how nervous she was playing her first song, "Wonderful Words of Life."
Seventy-three years later, Godwin tells the High Point Enterprise that she still gets nervous and "a little jittery" when she plays the organ for Sunday services and special events, including weddings and funerals.
Godwin was recently awarded the Guinness Book of World Records for playing the organ or piano for the longest consecutive time at one church. The official certificate proclaiming Godwin's accomplishment will hang on the wall of the Methodist church, reading: "The longest career as a church pianist/organist is 73 years and was achieved by Martha Godwin (b. 17 Jan 1927, USA), who has served the Macedonia United Methodist Church in Southmont, North Carolina, USA since April 1940, aged 13 years."
According to the High Point Enterprise, Godwin received her reward thanks to the effort of her brother, Tommy Hedrick, who with the help of other congregation members was able to prove to the Guinness Book of World Records that his sister had been playing the organ every Sunday at the church for 73 years.
Hedrick and other church members had to track down church members who could verify Godwin had been playing at the church for that long. Two people, as well as Godwin's cousin, wrote letters to Guinness confirming her continuing position as organist at the church.
Despite all of the recent attention, Godwin has remained humble about her reward, telling the High Point Enterprise that she played the organ for so many years to serve God.
"I just grew old doing what I like to do," she said. "The Lord has been good to me, and it's one way I can praise Him."
Pastor Randy Blanton of the Macedonia UMC told the The Huffington Post in an email: "I have been serving with Martha for three years and she is a dear 'saint.' She is such a modest and humble person. Martha is somewhat embarrassed by all the attention, and when someone says, 'You deserve it,' she responds with a gentle laugh followed by a sheepish, 'It's one way I can give back to the Lord because he's sure been good to me.'"