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Southern Baptist missionary decorated by Queen Elizabeth in 1957

Queen Elizabeth II presents a decoration to May Edges Perry, a Southern Baptist missionary to Nigeria, in October 1957. Perry was one of 27 recognized by the queen that day in Washington. (WMU photo)


A story in the Dec. 12, 1957, edition of the Western Recorder featured a story about a Southern Baptist missionary to Nigeria who trained at the Woman’s Missionary Union Training School in Louisville and was decorated by Queen Elizabeth II during the queen’s visit to the United States in 1957.

Miss May Edgel Perry, born Aug. 12, 1890 in Tate, Ga., served as a missionary to Nigeria for 40 years from 1920 to 1960. She became a Christian at 13 and entered Georgia Normal and Industrial School at 17, graduating in 1912. She received her first definite call to the foreign field while in Georgia Normal and Industrial School.

Below is the Western Recorder story from Dec. 12, 1957, reporting on the recognition.

Miss Perry recognized by Queen Elizabeth

May Perry shows Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary President Sydnor L. Stealey her recognition from Queen Elizabeth II. (Western Recorder photo)

Miss May Perry, Southern Baptist missionary to Nigeria, was one of 27 American citizens and British subjects decorated by Queen Elizabeth II on her visit to the United States in the first investiture ever held by a British sovereign on American soil. The brief but colorful ceremony was held at the British Embassy in Washington, D.C., on the morning of October 19.

Miss Perry was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire last June, an honor given to persons who have served with distinction in the British Empire. Miss Perry was recognized for educational services in Nigeria.

Since she arrived in Nigeria in 1921, Miss Perry has spent much of her time serving through Idi-Aba, the Baptist girls’ school in Abeokuta. She was principal of the school from 1928 until 1952, when she requested that another missionary assume that position. She has continued to teach at the school and to be principal of the secondary division.

Idi-Aba specializes in the training of elementary teachers and maintains its own elementary school for practice purposes. It has done much to change the nature of womanhood in the area around Abeokuta and its influence has been felt throughout Nigeria.

Miss Perry, a native of Tate, Ga., grew up in Talking Rock, Ga. She graduated from Georgia State College for Women, Milledgeville, and taught in public schools in Georgia for six years before entering Woman’s Missionary United Training School (now Carver School of Missions and Social Work), Louisville Ky.

Upon her graduation from the Training School in 1920, she was appointed by the Foreign Mission Board for service in Nigeria.

Now on furlough, in the States, Miss Perry is doing graduate study at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, North Carolina. Miss Perry will go back to Nigeria in February for another three years of service. This will be her last tour of duty and after retirement she plans to make her home in Canton, Georgia.

    About the Author

  • Mark Maynard/Kentucky Today
    Mark Maynard writes for Kentucky Today, www.kentuckytoday.com, where this article first appeared. Kentucky Today is a news resource of the Kentucky Baptist Convention. Read All by Mark Maynard/Kentucky Today ›