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Mission leaders recognized with awards at WMU annual meeting

INDIANAPOLIS (BP)–During a June 13 dessert fellowship in Indianapolis in honor of former Woman’s Missionary Union board members, the WMU Foundation presented awards to five women for their outstanding contributions to missions.


The Dellanna West O’Brien Award for Women’s Leadership Development went to Rebecca Carnell, who serves as literacy consultant for the Kentucky Baptist Convention.

“It is such an honor to receive an award named after Dellanna O’Brien,” Carnell said. “Her leadership has certainly influenced me to be a more effective leader.”

Although Carnell was introduced to missions at the age of 19 through Young Baptist Women meetings, it was during the WMU annual meeting in 1992 when a video regarding literacy was presented that Carnell first felt called to get involved with literacy missions.

After completing training through the Missions Service Corps, she was assigned as a literacy volunteer in Kentucky. She served as a reading tutor and went on to receive additional training to teach English as a Second Language. Then in March of 1998, Carnell left her position at a bank to pursue full-time ministry. In her current role, Carnell’s responsibilities include coordinating literacy ministries, providing training workshops, educating churches about literacy and encouraging volunteers.

“To see someone learn to read, especially the Bible, is such a joy. It changes their life,” Carnell said. “We gauge our success not by reading levels, but by the number of professions of faith.” She added that last year alone, her group had more than 100 professions of faith. “Helping someone learn to read is a wonderful tool to reach people for Christ.”

Since its beginning, WMU has challenged and prepared women for leadership. Under O’Brien’s leadership as national executive director of WMU from 1989 to 1999, development opportunities for women grew.

The Dellanna West O’Brien Award recognizes Baptist women who demonstrate an ability to foster Christian leadership in other women, display the potential to be a leader in their community and the world, and excel in missions education. The award carries a grant to help the recipient continue her ministry to others.


Gloria Grogan, WMU executive director of the District of Columbus Baptist Convention, was named the recipient of the Lillian Isaacs Literacy Missions Endowment. Grogan said the grant will be used to provide training to a state literacy trainer, for literacy materials in churches, and as seed money to assist churches with literacy training and resources as well as advance their state literacy program. The award is named after Lillian Isaacs, a missionary who inspired hundreds of Christians to follow her footsteps in literacy missions ministries.


Amanda Perez of Lubbock, Texas, was named the recipient of the 2004 Sybil Bentley Dove Endowment.

Perez, currently raising three children as a single mother, graduated in May 2003 from Christian Women’s Job Corps in Lubbock, Texas, a ministry of WMU and First Baptist Church of Lubbock.

“A friend of mine told me to go to [CWJC] and I thought about it and figured it would be like any other program — a waste of time,” Perez said. “Little did I know then, but this program would change my life forever and there was no wasted time!”

Amanda accepted Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior and was baptized less than a month after entering the program.

“She does not hesitate to give the Lord full credit and glory for the positive changes and her continued success,” said Denise Kopriva, CWJC executive director in Lubbock. “Every time I ask her to come with me and share her testimony when I do a presentation, she responds with, ‘Tell me where and what time.'”

After graduating CWJC, Perez attended summer school to complete the remaining credit in math she needed to obtain her high school diploma. She is currently attending South Plains College with her sights set on being a social worker.

“We are delighted to award the Sybil Bentley Dove Award this year to such a deserving recipient,” WMU Foundation President David George said. “We are happy to honor her in this way as she continues to achieve her dreams while inspiring others along the way.”

Since its inception just seven years ago, CWJC sites located throughout the United States offer resources, encouragement, direction and real hope for women in need.

The Sybil Bentley Dove Endowment was established in 1998 by Faye Dove Wright in honor of her mother and is awarded annually to a current or former CWJC participant. The WMU Foundation manages the endowment that funds this award and accepts additional contributions in support of the donor’s original intent. Each year, the WMU Foundation recognizes a woman with this award who is at least 30 years of age and desires to improve her life through skills training, academic development and faith in Christ. The focus is to help the recipient develop self-reliance and offer assistance in the development of her children.

Other finalists for consideration of the Dove endowment included Anitra Daffin of Mobile, Ala.; Lisa Miracle of Southington, Ohio; Faith Rue Moreno of Lubbock, Texas; Mary Jane Peters of Kerrville, Texas; Sheila Rogers of Dallas; and Nora Villalvazo of Granbury, Texas.


The WMU Foundation annually awards grants to a Christian Women’s Job Corps site or sites that have been in full operation at least one year and demonstrated fulfillment of requirements and purpose. The awards are for the expansion of current ministries.

This year, the recipients were Jeanne Todd, site coordinator for Bethel Baptist Association CWJC in Hannibal, Mo., and Eva Pierce, site coordinator for Knox County CWJC in Knoxville, Tenn.
For additional information regarding these awards and ways to support missions through Woman’s Missionary Union, call the WMU Foundation toll-free at 1-877-482-4483 or visit www.wmufoundation.com.