The general mother of the House of God International, Mary Elizabeth Rawlings, died Tuesday at the age of 92. The House of God national temple is based in Lexington, but the church has branches in Jamaica, Africa and Australia.
Mrs. Rawlings' granddaughter Julia Johnson said thousands would travel to Lexington from around the world for the funeral.
Mrs. Rawlings was preceded in death by her husband, S.P. Rawlings, the chief apostle of the House of God, and her daughter Julia.
She is survived by a daughter, Juanita; son-in-law George Dailey, and 13 grandchildren. But Johnson said Mrs. Rawlings' family extended beyond blood relatives. She adopted two sons and was a surrogate mother to many more.
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"My grandmother not only held the title of general mother," Johnson said. "There were so many people that she just embraced. As Christ loved the church, she loved people in that same manner."
Larry Johnson is one such person. He said Mrs. Rawlings was like a mother to him.
"She and her husband always said they were there for the underdog," he said. "They reached out to those who needed extended family. They really wrapped them with love and whatever resources they needed."
Visitation will be 5 to 10 p.m. Sunday at the House of God on Georgetown Street, and Mrs. Rawlings will lie in state overnight. The funeral will be at 10 a.m. Monday, followed by burial in Paris.
Fender Funeral Directors is in charge of arrangements.