POETS OF PENTECOSTALISM
Velma Cochren Terry (1914-1999), a Pentecostal Poet.
Born on the wind swept plains of middle Kansas was married at age 15. She was a mother to ten children of which only seven survived infancy. She raised five children by herself after being deserted by her first husband. During WW2 - while a 'Rosie the Riveter" - she met the man she would marry after the war and have five more children.
She first attended a Pentecostal church in the 1940's in Nebraska (Church of God and Foursquare congregations). She became a member of the Pentecostal Holiness Church under the ministry of Rev. Sally Flippin in Wichita, Kansas in the early 1950's. She was a charter member of churches in Wichita and Wellington, Kansas (under Sally Flippin, Bill and Evelyn Thompson, Pastor Burchett and Hoyle Baker).
She trained as a Nurses Aide later in life and served as special care attendent at local hospitals and in private care.
Velma's first poem was published in the church newsletter, then she was published in a local newspaper, and then notebooks filled and kept secreted away. She continued to live life, became a mother and grandmother and friend to many.
In 1972, she and her husband retired to the Ozarks and she published two books of poetry before the death of her husband and her own subsequent failing health. She lived to see almost all of her children accept Christ, become active in church and several in ministry. She saw her grandchildren being raised in Christian homes. She lived to see the fulfilment of her prayers that God would care for, protect, and guide each of her children.
Finally, encouraged to dust them off she put together Sunshine and Shadows in 1983. It was just a simple little book of her writings penned in the still and silent hours of night when all was quiet.
Conceived as a simple gift to family and friends...the response was impressive for a simple little book. Local pastors read her poems in their pulpits, teachers in their classes, and people in their home. A local Christian radio program regularly read her poems over the air. She was encouraged by how her simple verses had found an audience. Her deep faith and honest search for answers to life's challenges reflected her Pentecostal roots and resonated with readers.
A second collection appeared in 1983, Heart Talks and it was followed by Valley of Flowers in 1995 (reprinted three times through 1996). More poems, richer and more complex, revealing her growth as a poet, waited to be shared. A fourth one, Silver Linings, was planned but a massive stroke halted that project as she lost sight in one eye, a long recovery and reduced capacities. In October of 1999 she passed away.
In 2010, her daughter, Marilyn A. Hudson, compiled the best of her work and added a biographical context and published, In Her Own Words: The Inspirational Poetry of Velma Terry (Whorl Books).