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The Dart: Natchez couple has large family tree through church

Published 12:10am Monday, June 30, 2014

By Chase Ladner

The Natchez Democrat

NATCHEZ Not all family is blood related, and John and Letta Crocker have been growing their family for 58 years through youth counseling and coordinating.

The Crockers have always been around children. They have three daughters who are six years apart each.

Even though their daughters have grown and moved away, the Crockers are still dedicating their life to guiding teens into adulthood with the United Methodist Youth Foundation.

When The Dart landed on Temple Street the Crockers were just taking a break from preparing for a surprise party with the foundation that night.

The Crockers joined Jefferson Street United Methodist Church in 1985 when they moved to Natchez with their daughter Rachel. Rachel chose the church because there was a youth program.

Getting young people to come to the program was much more difficult when the Crockers first started, John said.

“If you don’t have the people with the gift as the foundation you don’t have anything to build on,” said John Hudson, youth minister at Jefferson Street.

Hudson celebrated 40 years of youth service Friday at a surprise party arranged largely by the Crockers.

“They brought a lot of passion, they brought a lot of commitment and they brought a lot of support,” Hudson said.

For the party, the Crockers brought in graduates of the United Methodist Youth Foundation, Letta said. Some of whom have also joined religious service, and others who have children who are also going through the program.

“We love children,” Letta said. “They’re so excited about their lives.”

Letta said that all the members of the program are like their children and grandchildren.

“When ever I go to a soccer game someone will ask me ‘which one is yours?’” John Crocker said.” “I say all of them.”

While John said he is willing to let people younger than him take over the youth program while, Letta is not ready to give it up.

“It keeps you young,” Letta said.