WMU Ministries

A Continued Calling: a Q&A on Retirement

For many who enter the retirement season, questions for what to do with their time and how to continue serving or volunteering with purpose arise. After you worked in your place of service for years then passed the torch on to others, how will you spend your time? Who will you invest in? Your retirement may be exactly what you thought it would be, or it may bring with it an unexpected season of continued and intentional work and ministry. We interviewed Ruby Fulbright, former Executive Director/Treasurer of WMU North Carolina, and asked her to share a few of her retirement experiences and how she continues to invest well during this season of life.

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WMU Foundation: What is one thing that surprised you most about retirement?

Ruby: I think I expected more down time, more rest, maybe even a chance to be a little bored. I didn’t expect retirement would be all rest and moving at a slow pace. I didn’t want that. But, almost immediately, I was busy, busy, busy.

WMU Foundation: Are there any books, websites, or other resources you would suggest for retirees or those planning to retire?

Ruby: Calvin Partain’s book, More Than Money, is an excellent resource (and you can find free monthly bible studies and leader guides on the WMU Foundation website to go along with this book). I learned a great deal from the WMU Foundation through resources they sent out and through learning experiences while I served on the Board of Directors. I also have some very good friends who retired before me, and they seemed to have done it right, so I spent time talking with them. Asking those we respect and who have experienced retirement can be very helpful.

WMU Foundation: Tell us the most fun thing you’ve done since retiring.

Ruby: When our three children left the nest, they flew far away, and, not until I retired in 2012 have we lived close to them or to grandchildren. Currently, we live close to two of our grandchildren in North Carolina, two others are in Alabama, and two are in Texas. Retirement meant I could travel to Alabama and Texas and spend extended time with the grandchildren. It is a blessing to me as a grandmother to have been at the birth of all six of my grandchildren.

WMU Foundation: How many years did you spend in your career, and what did you do?

Ruby: I married while my husband, Ellis, and I were still working on our educations. Immediately after my husband graduated from seminary, we went to Zambia, Africa, to serve with the Foreign Mission Board (now International Mission Board) as career missionaries. We served there twelve years.

Because of some health issues, we returned to the States and I worked alongside my husband in associational missions work and on a church staff. Very quickly I became involved with WMU in my church, my association, and on the state level. While serving as WMU North Carolina State President from 1999-2002, I was asked to consider taking a ‘paying job’ and was elected as Executive Director/Treasurer of WMU North Carolina. I served in this position for ten years.

WMU Foundation: Now that you are retired, how do you spend your time?

Ruby: Grandchildren, NABWU (now Baptist Women of North America), young women (Uptick), WMU North Carolina Executive Board, CWJC Executive Board, WMU Foundation Board, church Women on Mission, Sunday school teacher, mission trips.

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WMU Foundation: How do you invest in others in your retirement?

Ruby: I retired in June 2012, and, in October of 2012, I became Vice President of Leadership Development, Networking, and Mentoring for North American Baptist Women’s Union (now Baptist Women of North America). This was a 5-year commitment, and one of my greatest joys was learning from, teaching, mentoring, and encouraging young women through that organization and currently through the Uptick experience of the Spence Network. I guess I’d have to say that besides ‘building into’ my grandchildren, continuing to work with young women in leadership and ministry is where I spend most of my time.

WMU Foundation: What advice would you give other retirees about using their time wisely?

Ruby: Take time in the beginning of your retirement to rest and discern God’s leadership before jumping right into busyness. Other people will have a gazillion suggestions/opportunities (all good things) for you to do or invest in, but first reflect on those things you wanted to do and couldn’t when you were working. Give yourself time to do some of those things that fill your heart and your soul as well as your calendar.

WMU Foundation: How are you connected to the WMU Foundation?

Ruby: As Executive Director/Treasurer of WMU North Carolina, I came to appreciate who the WMU Foundation was, what she stood for, and how helpful David George, in particular, was to us as a state organization. During some rocky times for WMU North Carolina, the WMU Foundation offered advice, suggestions, and encouragement related to our finances and investments.

I served on the Board of the WMU Foundation from 2013-2018, and, for three of those years, I was Chair of the Awards and Nominations Committee. This committee, in my opinion, is the best committee of all. There definitely is work to do and there are difficult decisions to make, but this committee helps determine scholarships and grants, which ensure the missions and ministries of WMU and Baptists around the world continue.

WMU Foundation: What has been the most meaningful part of retirement so far?

Ruby: Seeing someone I’ve invested in go into their own ministry and calling. Being told ‘thank you’ when I didn’t even know I did anything out of the ordinary. Having some time to journal and write and giving advice because ‘I’ve been there and done that.’ Knowing that a big part of my calling at this stage in life is to share what I’ve experienced, the ups and the downs, the good days and the bad, and being able to offer assurance that God is always near to comfort, hold, encourage, pick you up when you fall, and help remind you that “for such a time as this” I have been called.

To find more ways to use your missions passion during retirement, please contact us at wmufoundation@wmu.org or visit our Give Your Way page to see various options for how you can get involved.

Partnering with Purpose

I remember being in school on those days when the teacher let us know we needed to choose a partner to work on a project together. It was always a little anxiety-inducing because what if someone else chose your best friend or, even worse, no one wanted to partner with you? What if there wasn’t an even number of children in the class and you had to partner with the teacher? That could be embarrassing. Or what if you got partnered with that kid who didn’t pull his own weight and you ended up doing all the work?

You never knew what you would get when you had to partner up in school. It could be great, but it could also be absolutely terrible. If you were anything like me, you tried to make the most of the situation and hoped for the best.

All this to say, if you’re having anxious flashbacks to rough days in elementary school, I can put your mind at ease. At the WMU Foundation, we want to partner with you, but only in ways that benefit everyone.

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When you partner with us, we’ll help you find your missions passion.

Natalie Shannon, administrative assistant at national WMU, is passionate about social justice issues, so she partners with the WMU Foundation when she gives monthly to the Judith and David Hayes Endowment to Combat Human Trafficking. “I give because of how clearly scripture mandates fighting for the oppressed,” she explained. “Fighting for those enslaved by others is a very real, practical way to show love and display the gospel.”

We have churches that partner with us, as well. Mountain Brook Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, has given since the WMU Foundation’s inception twenty-five years ago. “World missions has always been a priority for our church,” said June Whitlow, a long-time church member. “Since the Foundation regularly grants funds to ministries all over the world, this enables a portion of an individual’s initial gift to keep on giving and giving, long after the giver is gone. This pleases Mountain Brook Baptist Church members,” Whitlow continued.

When you partner with us, you can make personal connections.

“It’s easy to give when you see firsthand the impact of your giving,” said Lena Plunk, national WMU CWJC ministry consultant. “As a former Christian Women’s Job Corps (CWJC) site coordinator, I know that giving to the CWJC/CMJC Special Fund directly impacts the lives of these men and women. I have heard their stories and know that my giving is helping to impact a life.”

Emily Swader, WorldCrafts marketing strategist, agrees. “I am a monthly partner because I believe it is important to provide consistent support to the WorldCrafts artisans through the Isaiah 58:10 Campaign,” she said. “I know that the money is being used to transform the lives of men and women around the world and give them opportunities to hear of eternal hope.”

When you partner with us, you help spread the love of Christ across the globe.

Mark Johnson, associate pastor at Shades Crest Baptist Church, said, “The WMU Foundation has been instrumental in helping our church connect with Baptists in need all around the world. We have been able to help respond to crises knowing that our funds are accompanied by prayer and ground personnel who are actively ministering through their actions and with their witness.”

When you become a monthly partner with us, you become part of something so much bigger than yourself. Your dollars are always at work, helping combat human trafficking through the Hayes Endowment, sending help to places in need of disaster relief through the WMU HEART Fund, or providing scholarships to missionary kids heading off to college.

And that’s only the beginning. The WMU Foundation has so many other funds and endowments, and we are happy to do whatever we can to help you find your missions passion.

“I consider it a joy to get to be a part of what is being done through WorldCrafts and the WMU Foundation,” concluded Swader. “A monthly donation is an easy way for me to be a consistent financial supporter.”

We hope you’ll choose to partner with us by becoming a monthly donor to the WMU Foundation*. We promise we won’t make you do all the work.


* The WMU Foundation offers automatic monthly giving, making it easier than ever to support your favorite fund or endowment. When you give online, select the option to make this a recurring gift. The card you use will be charged each month for the amount you specify. If you need more information, contact us at wmufoundation@wmu.org or call (205) 408-5525.

Written by Maegan Dockery, Marketing Manager at the WMU Foundation.

Texas Woman Honors ‘WMU husband’ For His Years Serving in the Background

Elaine Mason remembers vividly the moment all the older WMU ladies fell in love with her husband. It was the night they saw him playing a game with the younger WMU ladies’ kids while bouncing a baby on each hip.

He was a hero that night, she said. The women were holding an associational WMU training, and Ronn Mason was the last-minute, emergency childcare.

“They thought that was the most wonderful thing any man had ever done,” Elaine said. “It meant the difference in whether or not those moms could come.”

And she realized she had something special — a WMU husband.

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Over the years, he’s taught Royal Ambassadors (RAs), but he’s also done pretty much anything needed for Girls in Action (GAs) too, like cut shapes out of wood or cardboard for the crafts.

When the Masons’ children were small, he helped with Mission Friends and led the Mission Friends choir. When their daughter grew into GAs, he helped her with her projects too.

“I’m so very grateful God gave me Ronn,” she said. “He has been a wonderful WMU partner. I tease him that he’s become my private secretary.”

In a way, it’s a miracle they ever ended up together, she jokes. Long before Elaine was throwing tasks as him, she was throwing something else — dirt.

“I grew up in New Mexico, and after church on Sundays, all the kids would take turns going to play at someone else’s house,” she said.

At one of those houses, a little blond boy showed up and kept trying to interrupt a game a house that Elaine and her friend Mary were playing.

“Finally, we realized the only way we were going to get rid of him was to be mean to him and throw dirt clods at him,” Elaine said.

Their plan was successful. But years later in college in Texas, a mutual friend realized they were both from New Mexico and decided to introduce them. It wasn’t long before they put the pieces together and remembered the dirt clod incident.

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“He had grown up in a non-Baptist church, but he was so impressed with the way we supported our missionaries,” Elaine said. “He just thought it was wonderful that we all banded together through the Cooperative Program to do that. He wasn’t raised in RAs either, and he wanted to be a part of that kind of missions education.”

The couple married and has served in a variety of ways at First Baptist Church of Texas City, Texas. Ronn was always supportive, and for that reason, Elaine honored her “WMU husband” with a brick in the Walk of Faith brick garden on New Hope Mountain in Birmingham, Alabama.

“He has just been the background person all these years, quietly serving, and I’m so thankful,” Elaine said.

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For more information about the Walk of Faith or to purchase a brick in someone’s memory or honor, visit wmufoundation.com/walkoffaith.

Written by Grace Thornton.

Support WMU Through the WMU Foundation

By Joy Bolton, former Executive Director of Kentucky WMU.

When I saw the Baptist Press headline “WMU Foundation: $512,354 to support national WMU work,” I knew what I needed to write about next on my blog, DiscoverJoy.org. There has been stirring in my heart a message about supporting WMU. I believe it is vital for us to intentionally support National WMU.

I grew up in WMU and have been influenced by WMU’s determination to make disciples of Jesus who live on mission. As I became aware of how the work of WMU was funded, I knew that National WMU received no Cooperative Program funding or dollars from the missions offerings, but instead funded their work through the sales of missions literature and giving through the WMU Foundation. But there is more to the story.

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Past “Recall” Funding

A quick look at A Century to Celebrate by Catherine Allen reminded me that from the time WMU incorporated, they knew they would need funds for literature and communications. “They agreed on three principles: they would receive no missions money, but have the women send it directly to the mission boards for expenditure; the officers would receive no pay; and its expenses would be paid by the mission boards.”

“For more than 66 years the process of WMU funding was commonly known as ‘recalling.’ WMU officers would incur or estimate expenses, then ‘recall’ from the mission boards the amount they wished. Always this was done with reluctance and self-sacrifice, for the women wanted as much money as possible to go to the missions fields” said Allen.

The “recall” system was changed as WMU increasingly supported her work through literature sales and earnings from reserves.

WMU Foundation Established

In 1995, the WMU Foundation was established and has become a significant partner in channeling financial support to WMU. This is more important than ever before.

In an era when publishing has experienced radical change, WMU has struggled at times to sell enough literature to fully fund the national office. This is both a symptom of changing times in our churches and in the distribution of information. People today want to find information and resources at little to no cost on the internet. However, even to give away information on the web, there are production costs which must be funded.

When I have attended meetings with other WMU leaders, we have discussed these challenges. We understand that putting “free” information on the web has costs, and that WMU would love to provide some missions resources to churches on the web while continuing to support those who create and develop the content. This is where you and I come in and can help provide the support needed to produce these resources.

We need to step up and fund National WMU work. There are several ways to do this through the WMU Foundation and WMU:

Funding National WMU

  • Support WMU and WMU Ministries: Purchase WMU literature, WorldCrafts, and other products produced by WMU. Keep your subscriptions current. Don’t be among those who say, “I used to subscribe.” You may be too busy to read every word of Missions Mosaic, but subscribe anyway. This is our flagship magazine and your subscription matters. Give gifts from WorldCrafts that are not only beautiful but provide hope for a better life and share Jesus who gives us hope for eternity.

  • Giving Regularly: Give to support WMU ministries through the WMU Foundation. Give automatically through selecting recurring monthly or quarterly giving. Gifts for various ministries of WMU were among the $512,234 given recently. You can support an hour of ministry by giving to the Vision Fund. You can support missions education for preschoolers by giving to the Dixon Endowment for Mission Friends. You can support leadership development through gifts to a number of endowments. See the Funds and Endowments List and pick one! You can also choose a Touch Tomorrow Today endowment which divides distributions between National WMU and WMU in your state.

  • Estate Gifts: Plan a gift to WMU from your estate. All of us will die. We must decide now, however, where our assets will go if we want to have a say in the distribution. Much of the $512,234 came from earnings on endowments. You may want to establish an endowment with WMU, but you can also specify a dollar amount or percentage to go to an existing endowment. Your wishes must be in writing through a will. Do not assume that your family knows you would want this. Put it in writing. The WMU Foundation can assist you with Planned Giving.

  • Memorial Gifts: Memorial gifts are a great way to honor people who love WMU and missions. Give to a WMU endowment at their passing. Or purchase a brick for the Walk of Faith. 100% of your Walk of Faith gift goes to operational needs of WMU. And let your family know where you would like memorial gifts sent when you die. Again, don’t assume they know. Put it in writing and let them know your wishes. Gifts to support WMU are a great way to honor and be honored.

The National WMU Office is important to all of us. It guides our work together and is the hub for WMU work across the country. WMU has a mandate to fulfill and keeping our home office strong and able to provide the resources we need is vital.

Join me today in supporting WMU!

This article first appeared on DiscoverJoy.org.