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WMU recognizes outstanding leaders

PHOENIX (BP)–Two Woman’s Missionary Union leaders were recognized for outstanding service June 13 during the WMU Missions Celebration and Annual Meeting in Phoenix.

Judith Edwards of Rio Rancho, N.M., received the Dellanna West O’Brien Award for Women’s Leadership Development, which was presented by Woman’s Missionary Union in partnership with the WMU Foundation. Laura Morris of Louisville, Ky., received the Dr. Martha Myers GA Alumna of Distinction Award, which is given annually to recognize a GA [Girls’ Auxiliary] alumna who influences the lives of others for Christ and serves as a positive role model for girls

Edwards was praised for her ability to help women discover their latent leadership abilities.

“Judy has an amazing ability to foster leadership in the women of New Mexico,” said Connie Dixon, executive director of New Mexico WMU, who nominated Edwards for the award. “She sees the best in women and knows how to help them realize their potential.”

Edwards and her late husband, Dalton, served for more than 25 years as North American missionaries to Native American people. In addition, she served as both president and executive director of New Mexico Woman’s Missionary Union, staff editor at national WMU, and most recently as missions mobilization team leader for the Baptist Convention of New Mexico, until her retirement in 2007.

Edwards said she first heard God’s call to missions as a preschooler in Sunbeams [a missions organization for young children], and throughout her years in school, she grew in awareness that “this was what God wanted me to do.”

Edwards, a member of First Baptist Church in Rio Rancho, N.M., continues to follow God’s call to missions and encourage women with the recent release of her 10th book, writing Sunday school lessons for LifeWay, and participating in mission trips.

Established in 1999, the O’Brien Award is presented annually to a Baptist woman who demonstrates the ability to foster leadership in women. It is named in honor of Dellanna West O’Brien, who served as executive director/treasurer of national Woman’s Missionary Union from 1989 to 1999. The award is accompanied with a grant to help the recipient continue her development and ministry to others.

Morris was lauded for her loving ministry to girls and investment in their futures.

A member of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Louisville, Morris developed a passion for missions early through her own GA training, according A. Jeanne Bryant, a fellow church member who has known Morris for nearly 40 years.

“Laura was about 8 years old when her family came to Bethlehem Baptist Church, and she immediately became active in GAs,” Bryant said. “She was interested in learning about and participating in mission work for our Lord, and she took part in our mission studies, day camps, and missions projects. I think Laura’s life and personal interest in helping people to know God’s love reflects this early missions involvement through GAs.”

Joy Bolton, executive director of Kentucky Woman’s Missionary Union, who nominated Morris for this award, said: “Laura is a great role model for the girls in her church, many of which come from homes that aren’t too stable. In her, these girls see a confident, loving, committed leader who loves them and invests in their lives.”

In addition to serving as GA leader and WMU director in her church, Morris is also an associational WMU leader, Kentucky Woman’s Missionary Union Executive Board member, and member of a Women on Mission group.

Morris holds a master’s degree in education and teaches special needs children in grades 1–5. She and her husband, Barry, along with their two teenage daughters, are committed to missions as a family, often taking family vacation time for mission trips.

Established in 2004, the Myers Award is named in honor of Martha Myers, a medical missionary who was killed in 2002 in Yemen after serving there for 24 years.
Anna Cox is a senior at Samford University in Birmingham, Ala., where she is studying journalism and mass communications. She is working at WMU as an intern this summer.

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