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Beyond an Easter Offering: Annie Armstrong’s lasting legacy


BALTIMORE (BP)–Nearly 70 years after Annie Armstrong’s death, there’s still plenty to say about her legacy to Southern Baptists.

Such as:

— “It is impossible to calculate the difference [Miss] Annie has made in our denomination, our continent and the world. She was dedicated to doing what she could and God has combined that effort with millions of other Southern Baptists through the years. Each one of us, doing what we can, in obedience to God’s Word can still have a mighty impact on this world.” –- Bob Reccord, president of the North American Mission Board.

— “Although Annie Armstrong’s name is synonymous with the North American Mission Board, she is one of our heroes too. About half of our missionaries’ total financial support comes from the Cooperative Program and the remainder comes through the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. That simply would not be possible without the Lottie Moon offering and, ultimately, without the contribution of Annie Armstrong in establishing this tremendous giving fund.” -– Jerry Rankin, president of the International Mission Board.

— “Seventh Baptist Church has a great heritage. We are excited that Annie Walker Armstrong heard the Gospel, accepted the free gift of salvation and subsequently was baptized through our ministry. Our mission is to continue equipping the next generation of ‘Annie’s’ as we take the life-changing Gospel of Jesus Christ to Baltimore City and beyond.” -– Ryan Preston Palmer, pastor of Seventh Baptist Church and trustee of the North American Mission Board.

— “WMU has a rich history of engaging people in the mission of God. The first corresponding secretary of WMU set the stage for what our organization would become. Annie Armstrong was nicknamed ‘Strong Arm’ because she had the strength and determination to do whatever was necessary to get a new organization off the ground. Not only did she get WMU ‘off the ground’ but through her efforts WMU led the way in focusing attention on missions education, tithing, concern for native Americans, immigrants and others in the local church.” -– Wanda Lee, executive director of Woman’s Missionary Union.

— “What I think is so interesting is that the folks at Eutaw Place and Seventh [Baptist] churches didn’t see her as a saint, but as a growing Christian, as they were.” -– Maryan Brown, a former historian for the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware.

In numerous ways, Annie Armstrong continues to show the power of one person. Her early efforts to raise money for missionary support has blossomed to nearly $3.7 billion for SBC mission causes.

And the impact of her efforts in the last century can still be felt on Baptist life today, especially in the following ministries:

— Founder and President, Ladies’ Bay View Mission

Armstrong started the Ladies’ Bay View Mission, an organization that cared for the poor, located on the site where Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center now stands.

— Corresponding Secretary, Woman’s Home Mission Society of Maryland

The Woman’s Home Mission Society of Maryland was formed after Armstrong and other women called a meeting of Baptist church representatives to cooperate with the Home Mission Board’s causes. As president for 24 years of this organization, Armstrong led support in projects in New Orleans, Cuba, among Chinese and German immigrants in Baltimore, and with African American women in their church work.

— Corresponding Secretary, Missions Rooms

Armstrong became the corresponding secretary of the Mission Rooms in Baltimore. Sponsored by the Maryland Baptist Union Association (the predecessor to the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware), the missions library and reading room ultimately became a publisher and distributor of missions literature for the Southern Baptist Convention. The work was given to the SBC Sunday School Board (now LifeWay Christian Resources) in the early 1900s.

— Corresponding Secretary, Woman’s Missionary Union

Armstrong became the first corresponding secretary (a position equivalent to today’s executive director) of the Woman’s Missionary Union, an auxiliary of the SBC, which formed in Richmond, Va., and whose headquarters were located in Baltimore from 1888-1921. “Go Forward,” a rally cry synonymous with Armstrong’s personal efforts, was adopted as WMU’s first motto. WMU is now based in Birmingham, Ala.

— Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for Foreign Missions

Armstrong and Lottie Moon proposed a Christmas Offering to raise money to send single women to China to work with Moon. Enough money was raised to send three missionaries instead of just one. This offering became the precursor to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for Foreign Missions, so named at Armstrong’s recommendation, which has raised more than $2.6 billion for foreign missions to date.

— Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions

Armstrong proposed the first Week of Self-Denial and an offering for home missions. Renamed after Armstrong in 1934, the annual Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions has accumulated more than $1.1 billion to date.
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    About the Author

  • Shannon Baker

    Shannon Baker is director of communications for the Baptist Resource Network of Pennsylvania/South Jersey and editor of the Network’s weekly newsletter, BRN United.

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