Focus on WMU – A Personal Word of Thanks

As we observe Focus on WMU this month, it is an appropriate time for me to pause and say thanks for the WMU heritage that influences me to this day, to say thanks to the countless leaders who have shaped my life, and to say thanks for the life-long missions experiences that have come my way through WMU.

I have been a part of Woman’s Missionary Union as long as I can remember and the WMU tagline “missions for life” describes my WMU experience. My mother took me with her to circle meetings and associational WMU events. She was WMU director in our church and taught Intermediate GA (Girls’ Auxiliary) in our home.  The girls gathered around our dining room table and I listened to every word of what was being taught to those girls who were a few years older than I. She was also the associational GA director and missionaries often had supper at our home before we went to a quarterly GA Rally.  I like to say that because of these experiences, I learned missions at my dining room table!

In Mobile, Alabama at the West End Baptist Church there was Mrs. McFadden, my Junior GA leader.  There was Patsy McLeod and Janet Moore who taught our group for a time (they were among the Intermediate GAs and later YWAs that mother taught). In high school, we moved to Gretna, Louisiana and Mrs. Fortenberry was my GA leader.  I was part of the organizational change in 1970 and was an Acteen, too.

Joy QueenIn GA I not only attended weekly meetings where we learned about missionaries, but I also participated in Forward Steps, an individual achievement plan.  Through the steps of Maiden, Lady-in-Waiting, Princess, Queen, Queen-in-Service, Queen with a Scepter, and Queen Regent, I memorized scripture, read missions books, learned to prepare missions displays, wrote my testimony and an essay on why I was a tither.  I learned about the Cooperative Program and how Southern Baptists appoint, send, and support missionaries.

In Mobile, I went to Citronelle to GA camp every summer, often twice – once for Junior GA Camp on my own and once to Intermediate GA Camp where my mother was the camp director and my dad was the camp pastor.  In Louisiana, I attended camp at Tall Timbers. Camp was a special place to me where I spent time with missionaries as well as had all the fun that girls will have during the week.

Joy Queen Regent2In 1969, the Southern Baptist Convention was held in New Orleans. WMU enlisted girls who were Queen Regents from the area to serve as pages at the WMU Annual Meeting.  I remember the thrill of sitting on the stage between Miss Alma Hunt and Dr. Claude Rhea.  My parents were so proud.  I never dreamed how important the “sitting on the stage” lessons that my mother gave me would be!

In college I led Acteens one year and then in seminary, served as a summer intern in the National WMU office.  Beverly Sutton, Evelyn Blount, Bobbie Sorrill, Sheryl Churchill, Catherine Allen, Carolyn Weatherfield and a host of others invested in me.  I began to write for WMU and many opportunities came because of that internship.  A second summer was spent in Birmingham, and this time, my husband Lee was along with me. He worked as a truck driver for WMU that summer and in the warehouse.  He is one of the men of WMU!

After seminary, Lee and I served in Pennsylvania for 10 years. Two were spent in Pittsburgh where I was the associational Acteens leader. Then in Reading, I was asked to serve on the State WMU Council.  Thank you, Peggy Masters, for giving opportunities to a very young leader.  In 1990 WMU published my first book, Ideas for Nursing Home Ministries, a dream come true for a young writer.

In Annapolis, Maryland, I kept writing for WMU and my second book, Ideas for Community Ministries was published.  I served as associational WMU director and on the Maryland/ Delaware WMU Executive Board.  Thank you, Wilene Pierce for giving my first state WMU job, a part-time position in publications.

I owe a big thank you to Evelyn Blount who had gone from national WMU to serve as WMU Executive Director in South Carolina. In 1995, she gave me the opportunity of a lifetime and invited me to join the staff there as the Women on Mission/Adults on Mission Consultant.  I had been doing WMU work all my life and now I had a job!  Thank you, Lee and my family, for making the move possible.

Bill Mackey became a trusted co-worker while in South Carolina and it was he who encouraged me to apply to Kentucky to serve as WMU Executive Director. No one was more surprised than I when he told me that he was going to Kentucky, knew the WMU director position was open and hoped I would apply.  Though that process ended up taking a little longer than expected, when I finally arrived on September 1, 1999, he was a great friend to me and to Kentucky WMU.

Thank you WMU for the missions opportunities that I have been given.  I have been on overseas mission trips to Rwanda, Kyrgyzstan, Romania, Poland, Brazil, Tanzania, Korea, Indonesia, Puerto Rico, Malawi, and South Africa. My work with Kentucky WMU gives me the privilege of encouraging missions across our state and helping to provide prayer and financial support through the Eliza Broadus Offering.

Houston 2013Thank you Kentucky WMU staff, Executive Board, and church and association leaders who have encouraged, guided, and prayed for me.  My life has been enriched by each of you.  I am also grateful to Wanda Lee and all of the national WMU staff. They, too, have been wonderful co-workers providing insight and help in so many ways.  I am grateful for the friendship of our national WMU leaders and the leaders of WMU in other states.

What is your WMU story?  Who has been an influence on you? What have you learned through WMU? What missions opportunities have changed your life?  The answers represent an investment that God has made in your life.

In the parable of the Talents found in Matthew 25:14-30, the faithful servants in the story doubled the investment that the Master has entrusted to them. The Lord invested in my life through WMU.  It is my prayer to double that investment in the lives of others.

How will you double the investment?

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One thought on “Focus on WMU – A Personal Word of Thanks

  1. Joy – thank you for sharing your thoughts about WMU and how the influence of dedicated women has molded/shaped you into the outstanding, dedicated Christian leader you are – one who has such a strong passion for missions. I can identify with these thoughts myself as I think about all those who influenced me through the years. I love WMU and its purpose….Missions!!

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