Longtime director of the Church Library Service, Hunter, dies

Eva Nell Hunter, longtime director of the church library at Central Baptist Church in Decatur and library specialist for Lifeway Christian Resources, died on November 21. She was 94 years old.

As one of four Lifeway Library Specialists, she hosted the annual North Alabama Church Library Conference, which was attended by at least 100 people from Alabama and surrounding states.

She served in Central Baptist’s library ministry (now called the Serving Center because resources expanded beyond books) for 64 years before retiring from full-time at the end of last year. She served 61 of the 64 years as director and continued to volunteer after her retirement.

More than 30 services are housed at the Serving Center, including stamp presses, displays of dolls and objects from around the world, laminating, a map service, and a church history collection. It is open to the public, and local educators and classes use the services.

A unique service is Bible repair for used Bibles, fixing the pages and providing a new leather binding free of charge.

Missions voluntary “for life”

While Hunter is best known for her librarianship work, to call her a librarian is a gross understatement, said Rob Jackson, director of the Office of Church Health for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions and a former pastor of Central.

According to Jackson, Hunter had a heart for missions like no other. “I can’t think of anyone … who comes as close to a lifetime volunteer mission as Eva Nell Hunter,” he said.

“Eva Nell was one of the most Christ-loving, missionary, pastor-supportive, and hard-working people I have ever known,” he said. β€œShe gave her life to spreading the gospel through her library ministry. As she ministered with me at Central Baptist Church, I was often amazed at her tireless work ethic. Everything she did was always with excellence.”

A recipient of the 2015 Lifetime of Mission Service Award, Hunter dressed up as Lottie Moon for Christmas and Annie Armstrong for Easter for more than 40 years and gave monologues in churches to support mission giving.

broad effect

She also founded libraries for churches in the US and overseas missionaries by the time she was in her late 80s. Her international travels have included Austria, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Brazil and Switzerland.

“When [my husband and I] knowing we were going to another country, we would call up the missionaries there and ask, ‘What is your greatest need?’ and invariably β€” they had no idea what we were doing β€” (they said, ‘We’d like to have a church library,'” Hunter shared earlier this year.

And because of her persistence, which several cite as the most important trait they learned from her, she’s always kept those libraries working.

Hunter was preceded in death by her husband Mark George Hunter and their son Haran. She leaves behind three daughters and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.