Eldress Mary Mullen

Mullen, Eldress Mary

Mary Mullen was born on July 1, 1925. She was one of seven children born to Eugene and Bevie O.Gillon. She was raised a preacher's daughter on a farm near Granada, Mississippi, and moved to Champaign, Illinois in 1947. She was in her early 20s when she came to Champaign to see an uncle, and ended up getting a job and marrying Randolph Mullen in 1948.

Before she had left Mississippi, her father's first cousin had looked in Mary's hand and said she would not be back. The cousin also saw Mary dressed in white, talking to a crowd of people. Mary assumed that meant she'd be a nurse.

After she and her husband moved to Chicago in 1948, she tried nursing school, but couldn't tolerate blood. She also tried hairdressing, but ended up enrolling in the Moody Bible Institute and becoming an ordained minister. She wore white robes. In 1951, they moved back to Champaign and she turned her attention towards getting a church built. Her father was soundly against her being a minister, largely because of the old-fashioned attitudes about the proper place for women. But by the late 60s, he had changed his mind.

She was instrumental in helping raise funds to build a new church, the Church of the Living God, Pillar Ground of Truth, which now stands on the southwest corner of 4th Street and Bradley Avenue in Champaign, Illinois. In 1967, she became pastor of The Church of the Living God in Champaign.

Mary started two day-care centers through the years. Primarily, she served black women who couldn't afford other centers, trying to make changes to help people improve their lives. She was instrumental in the group responsible for establishing the Eastern Illinois Foodbank in Champaign. She has also served as the Administrative Representative of the Mother of World War II Veterans for Illinois, and as president of the Carver Park Association.

Eldress Mary Mullen passed away on July 22, 2013. She is survived by her husband, children, two sisters, one brother, six grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren, and a host of other relatives who were all dear to her heart.