From Martha to Mary

Marcia Mann Brown grew up here in Appling County on the family farm. She and her brother Gene learned to work hard, but they also were blessed with a Christian family; they lived within five miles of both sets of grandparents. One great grandfather, David H. Mann, Sr., gave the land for and served as the song leader of Memorial Church. Another great grandfather, Isaac Blanton, was the preacher.

“I was kin to everyone within miles, so when I went looking for a husband, I had to leave town,” Marcia laughed. “I found Ken in Waycross. He grew up in town though and we were quite different because of my farm background. He graduated in 1965; I, in 1969. We’ve been married 47 years now. Ours was love at first sight; four months later, we were married.”

Marcia said that the five years between her and her brother made her seem like an only child sometimes. She stayed in on Sunday afternoons, reading, studying, doing the things she was encouraged to do. Her world consisted of learning to sew, reading, and studying. She was expected to do well.

“I sometimes wonder if my brother and I really had the same parents ( Babe and Joyce Mann),” Marcia laughed. “When we talk, our memories don’t always match. I couldn’t do extracurriculars because we lived so far out, and the farm required so much time. I was academic all the way. I enjoyed English, Spanish, and math. My grandmother had me doing devotionals at church on Wednesday nights by the time I was twelve for I enjoyed talking to people. I did literary speaking for a couple of years, which was a great experience for me.”

She found math easiest of all and had great teachers in science and math. Spanish fascinated her but her daddy was totally against it.

“Math is far more flexible,” he told her. “It gives you more opportunity. Where in South Georgia could you ever use Spanish?”

And so the dutiful daughter listened to her father and went to school on the Georgia Teacher’s Scholarship as a math major. However, she still longed for Spanish. She taught math for two years, then stayed home seven years when she and Ken decided to have children. She even toyed with the idea of not going back to teaching. They lived in Jesup, Louisiana, then Brunswick. One year around Christmas, Virgil Carter, Appling County school superintendent, called her and said, “Marcia, I need a math teacher when school starts back after Christmas. Are you interested in coming back home?”

She was. At the time, Ken was traveling as a sales representative, and it would be nice to be closer to home with two little ones. She took the junior high job, where she felt immediately at home. Her former teachers were there: James Twiggs was principal; Jimmy Allen, assistant principal; Janie Carter, head of the math department. She taught there from ’83 to ’88 and then realized that she was a high school teacher. That’s where she belonged. She felt that she had to transfer or quit. When the opening came for remedial math at the high school, she grabbed it and found that remedial was her real love. She stayed there until the end of the 90s. She was teaching math the students should have learned in junior high; the pressure was now on students to pass the graduation test, and on the teachers too to make that happen. She found that her main job was convincing the students that they could do it, that she believed in them. She found that job most satisfying.

Ken and Marcia’s son Alex is director of the South Carolina School of Leadership (SCSL), which has about 70 or 80 students, many of which will go into ministry. Marcia once shared there about a book that has greatly influenced her life - Catherine Marshall’s Christy. The teacher in that book taught Marcia, the teacher, many things about teaching and about her Christian life. Christy found children who were barefooted and had no hope for a future. Marcia defined her desire to help students in that book and in her early 20s, she made a new commitment to God and her work. She finally saw the impact of her education and her reading.

“I love the impact of good writers,” Marcia said. “Students make transformations through their works.”

Marcia said that when she was in her 20s, she’d put God on the sidelines. She felt herself in control and self-sufficient. She’d been dating a guy for three years when he broke up with her and shattered her dreams. She was mad at God. God could have stopped it. She had to regroup. She discovered things about herself during that period. In worship, she would be Pentecostal/charismatic for the rest of her life. That’s what the Lord wanted her to do. She discovered that mothering and teaching were her gifts. She promised herself that from that day forward, whatever she did or wherever she went, she’d keep the listening ear of a mother. Mothers don’t always have an answer, but they will pray for you and with you.

In 1975 Ken was ordained into the ministry. He and Marcia pastored a church for a couple of years. Soon he became a part of a company from Ohio, a business run by Christian men, and he was like the company chaplain, helping some people through divorce, some through other losses. Today that’s called marketplace ministry.

In the 90s, Marcia had some heart issues and had to give up all extra activities at school and church. The doctor said she was taking on too much stress. She felt that she’d lost her identity for a while and went more into a place of praying.

“I found myself praying that I’d pray what’s on the heart of the Lord.” Marcia said. “I realized the impact of agreeing with scripture. I needed to know it to be able to speak scripture over people and situations. By 2000, both my children had graduated from high school, and I went from a Martha to a Mary. I pulled away from church responsibilities and into the role of praying what the Lord wanted me to pray. I’ve seen immediate prayer miracles.”

Marcia and Ken took a prayer journey to 25 states in 2002 to pray in specific places (a four-week trip). She also went with Alex’s school in 2017 to Egypt for a covert prayer journey there.

In 2005, Ken and Marcia filled in in Ken’s home church in Waycross for a long while. They thought they were retiring, but they wound up with a multicultural church to lead. It was a most rewarding experience for them and the church.

Her life has been an adventure and Marcia is grateful. She’s recently been published in a book called 50 over 50, which a friend compiled of devotions from 50 women over 50 (pictured above). One of the greatest blessings of her life came in the form of her only grandchild, Brown Alyse. Her daughter Adrienne Taylor and her husband Jut, after 13 years of marriage, surprised them with a granddaughter. Ken and Marcia were beside themselves. Five-year-old Brown is a people person and loves playing make believe.

“I play really hard when I play with her,” said Marcia.

A final word of advice from Marcia is to watch for opportunities that come your way. When she had a chance to move into the ESOL program at the high school years ago, she turned it down from fear. She’s regretted it ever since. God gave her the opportunity to use Spanish, and she turned it down.

“I missed out on that one,” she says wistfully. “Don’t make the same mistake I did.”