AZTEC, NM - Martin Eugene Elder of Aztec, a former pastor and Southern Baptist missionary, passed away on Thursday, Nov. 4. He was 85.

Born to Fred and Mildred Elder on Dec. 16, 1935, Elder grew up in Kentucky and graduated from Shepherdsville High School in 1954. In 1958, he earned a bachelor’s degree from Howard College (now Samford University), Birmingham, Alabama. There, he met his future wife, Ellamae Thompson. They married on May 25, 1958. The couple had three children: David, Joy and Timothy.

In 1962, Elder earned his divinity degree from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. That same year, he accepted his first pastorate at Pheba Baptist Church, Pheba, Mississippi.

Elder became a home missionary in New Mexico two years later, pastoring Laguna and Acoma Native Americans in Cubero. He then served as pastor of the Baptist Indian Mission in Santa Fe. From 1968 to 1987, he ministered on the pastoral staff of First Baptist Church, Grants, as pastor of White Rock Baptist Church, and as pastor of First Baptist Church, Aztec.

Commissioned by the International Mission Board in 1987, the Elders became missionaries to South Africa, first in East London, where he served as a church planter/developer for nine years. Later, in Cape Town,  he directed theological education by extension for three years.

Even after retiring from the IMB and re-locating to Alabama in 2001, Elder faithfully taught Sunday School for several years before becoming the pastor to Sardis Baptist Church in Greenville for eight years. He preached his farewell sermon in Sept. 2019. He was 83.

For 61 years, Elder faithfully served the Lord. His dedication to God’s call and God’s word touched countless lives. He was preceded in death by his parents. His survivors include his wife Ellamae; children David, Joy and Timothy; 12 grandchildren; 14 great-grandchildren; six siblings; and nieces, nephews, and cousins.


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