Walk the Walk; Member Spotlight on Julia Turlington

“Methodist to the bone marrow!” is how Julia Turlington describes herself and her mother, Roberta Ogle. Julia said her mother can remember going around with her grandfather to collect donations to pay their preacher. It is that dedication and commitment that led Julia and her late mother to make a difference in people’s lives and even create legacies at Buncombe Street, including the Bethlehem Breakfast and the Blood Drive. Julia played a large role with the Bethlehem Breakfast for many years, including script writing and costume design. Her mother started the blood drive and she and a small group of others have continued it.

Julia’s first memories of church are actually from Trinity on Augusta Street (now part of Buncombe Street Church family), where she attended as a little girl. She smiles as she recounts helping her mother arrange flowers in the sanctuary; and fondly remembers the choir beginning every service with the hymn “The Lord is in his Holy Temple.” Julia is quick to describe attending Bible School as a child at Trinity where she “ate food from Bible times like black olives and honey.”

Still young, Julia Turlington and her family moved to South Georgia when she was in 4th grade and did not return to Greenville until she was a young woman as a Sophomore in high school. While in Georgia, it is apparent that a church trip in Hazlehurst, Georgia had a profound impact on Julia’s desire to serve God. Her youth group went to hear someone speak about the difference God had been able to have on inner city gang members. It is at this moment that Julia thought, “If God can make a difference in these people’s lives, and still have a plan for me, then I need to have Him in my life.” Julia stayed very much involved in her youth group in Georgia and it was upon their return to Greenville that the family joined Buncombe Street.

As an adult, Julia still had that intense desire to serve God as she did as a child and young woman. In fact, she put her talents to work. Julia always had a knack for the theatre. She put this talent to use through the Bethlehem Breakfast at Buncombe Street and again more recently with Playback Café at Triune Mercy. Playback Café gives some of Greenville’s homeless population the opportunity to see and hear stories from their lives performed by Julia and other improvisational actors. Most importantly, Playback Café allows these individuals to be and felt seen.
The idea of Playback Café came to her on a drive to work one morning praying to God that she desired to do more. God spoke to her on that morning commute and told her that she needed to help homeless individuals. Like many of us, she grappled with that information, not sure how to process it and not sure how to make it come to fruition. Julia said, “I ignored it for several weeks, but God stayed after me.” God assured her that He had prepared her, which gave her the confidence to pick up the phone and get to work and the rest is history.

Though Julia walks humbly in the Scripture, we all know that Buncombe Street members will be sure to benefit from Julia’s involvement for years to come. Julia’s journey with God began as a little girl, but it will not stop any time soon. She often refers to her favorite Scripture, Micah 6:8, “And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and walk humbly with your God.” Julia embodies this verse. Looking beyond her own journey and service to God and church, when asked what advice she would give to young families at Buncombe Street, she says, “Do it, let your kids be involved in all of it!”

Julia says that she cherishes the relationships that she has with others; and the sense of community created with members of Buncombe Street. It is safe to say that Buncombe Street cherishes Julia, too.

by Sunnie DeWorken

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