Just a matter of hours before she lost her life, Myra Thompson gained her license to preach. David Von Drehle at Time.com notes a meticulous, driven woman, who would not be budged from her path to ordination. . “She was that person who does the thankless jobs to keep a place like Emanuel running” he writes, “even as she studied at night to earn her seminary degree.”
Of the things written about Mrs. Thompson, the ones that mention her early life indicate it was not easy, but gave her a unique compassion for those who were disadvantaged. With two less than present parents, Myra’s siblings were distributed among relatives, an orphanage and foster families and Myra was finally placed under the care in a permanent placement with the neighboring family, the Coakleys. Later in life, “she hosted holiday meals to reunite her brothers and sisters into the warm and intact family they had not always been.”
At 8 years old Myra felt responsible for three siblings under her. She was adult minded from a very early age. I remember her going home and tucking her sister and brothers in bed an coming back to our house”Marjorie McIver, sister
Career and Family Life
As an adult, she worked through college as a single mother, before marrying the man who today is the greatest advocate of her legacy, Rev. Anthony Thompson. Starting as a teen mother, she went on to earn her bachelor’s and two masters degrees. She served as an eighth-grade teacher in Charleston , and devoted herself to working as an English teacher and guidance counselor, with a particular interest in underprivileged children.
She joined Mother Emanuel as a young child, and had been a lay leader for a long time. During her life she served as Children’s Church instructor, trustee pro tempore, and on several committees dealing with everything from elevator construction to grant writing. By 2015, she had oversaw Lent services. In 2014 she began to move toward ministry, and delivered her trial sermon the Christmas season before her passing. She was head of Mother Emanuel’s trustee board by that time.
Her sister Majorie noted that for three years she studied to become a licensed minister, with plans to become an associate pastor at Mother Emanuel. The Bible study that fateful night was one of her first duties after receiving that license in a conference only an hour before. . It was Myra Thompson who had prepared and led the Bible study that night, and only after weeks of preparation.
The lesson that Myra had so carefully and thoughtfully prepared that night was Mark 4, a parable told by Jesus of the farmer who scatters seed that falls in many places. Some fall on hard ground, some on rocky soil, some into thorns, some devoured by birds of prey. Her husband Anthony recounts: