April 1, 2021
She may be the most pious and primped up “Church Lady” ever—surpassing even Saturday Night Live’s Dana Carvey, who always wore a matching blue and purple sweater-dress set, visible knee-high stockings, and a pair of cat’s eye horn-rimmed glasses.
It’s been more than a year now since churchgoers started watching virtual streaming Sunday services on their cellphones and computers during the pandemic. Many have made a habit of tuning in while wearing cozy sweatpants or pajamas.
.The 82-year-old retired educator decks herself out head to toe every Sunday; then — to the delight of fellow parishioners at Metropolitan Baptist Church— posts a selfie on Facebook after the service.
Since March 29, 2020, she has taken photos of herself from her living room in 53 different color-coordinated outfits — each one carefully selected from the burgeoning closets, jewelry boxes and neatly stacked hat boxes that have satisfied her love of making a grand entrance since she was a young schoolteacher in the 1960s.
She hasn’t decided what she’ll be wearing this Easter Sunday, but those who know Wimberly said the odds are good that she’ll make a big splash. “She never skips a beat with the hats, the clothes, and all that beautiful jewelry,” Robin Watkins, 54, the church’s executive office assistant, told the Post.
“If anyone is feeling downtrodden, they just look at her [Facebook] page and immediately feel uplifted,” she said. “Her heart is as beautiful as each outfit she has shared with us.”
“In the 20 years I’ve been going to church there, I’ve always had my little routine that I learned from my mother as a girl,” she said. “I’d pick out a nice outfit and hat and lay it out the night before, so that I could be prepared and look presentable.”
When she learned last year that Metropolitan’s service would be streamed on March 29 due to the coronavirus threat, Wimberly said she couldn’t imagine wearing her bathrobe and slippers while tuning in from her living room, even if she was by herself.
“I thought, ‘Oh, my goodness, I can’t sit here looking slouchy in my robe,’ ” she said. “I didn’t want to sit around alone and feel sorry for myself, so I decided, ‘You know what? I’m going to dress up anyway.’ ”
Wimberly got up early to style her hair and put on some lipstick, then she slipped into a favorite white dress trimmed with eyelet, a sheer white ruffled hat, matching shoes and a beaded turquoise and gold necklace.
After she posted the photo and a Bible scripture for her friends, she was inundated with positive responses, she told the Post.
“For years, everyone had known to look for me in the last row, section two, dressed to the nines,” Wimberly said. “People always looked forward to seeing what I was wearing. So when I posted that photo, everyone told me it boosted their spirits.” And a star was born.
Wimberly is hopeful that she’ll be back in her pew by late spring or early summer, she said.
Of course, she’ll then face a dilemma: “What will I wear? That will be determined by the season and the weather,” said Wimberly. “Maybe something purple with black and white. You can’t go wrong there.”
Research contact: @washingtonpost