Approximately 150 Southern Baptist leaders, family members and friends from across the country gathered in St. Louis on June 11 to honor Wanda Lee and her leadership of national Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) over the past 20 years – 16 as executive director and four as president.
Frank S. Page said he got to know Lee in 2010 when assumed his current role as president and CEO of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee. Page recited Micah 6:8, “What does the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?
Photo by Jenna Wachsmuth
(Left to right) Carol Causey, director for the Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) missions resource center, and Andrea Mullins, retired publisher for New Hope Publishers, unveil a photo of retiring WMU executive director Wanda Lee at her retirement celebration during the WMU missions celebration and annual meeting Saturday, June 11, in St. Louis. Lee assumed the role in January 2000 and is the only woman to serve as both executive director and national president, an office she held 1996-2000. Lee served as president of Georgia WMU from 1993-1996. In addition, she and her husband Larry served as missionaries with the International Mission Board from 1979-1981.
“I believe Wanda Lee has exhibited that great trio of imperatives from our Lord,” Page said. “I believe she has done what is right, what is just. She is merciful, and many of you are the recipients of her mercy and ministry in your own life. She is a strategist, an organizational genius, yet is always humble and gives credit to those around her. I am honored to call her my friend, and I thank God for her.”
The three women who served with Lee as president of national WMU – Debby Akerman of Myrtle Beach, S.C. (2010-2015); Kaye Miller of Little Rock, Ark. (2005-2010), and Janet Hoffman of Farmerville, La. (2000-2005) – each reflected on their years of serving alongside Lee with admiration, respect and gratitude for both her leadership and friendship.
WMU executive board members presented Lee with a Pandora bracelet with charms and beads selected to represent WMU’s and Lee’s contributions; and the state WMU executive directors presented a painting with a quote from former WMU executive director, Dellanna O’Brien. It reads: “We are part of a seamless history in which we connect the stories of the past and write our own chapters in preparation for those who come after us.”
Candace McIntosh, executive director of Alabama WMU, said to Lee, “For 20 years, you have written your own chapters in the seamless history of WMU. You have led well. Your legacy is strong and will live on in our lives and those who come after us.”
Gordon Fort, senior ambassador of the International Mission Board, described his friendship with Lee as a joy and privilege and also reflected on her leadership.
“A good leader leads with effectiveness and efficiency and loves their staff,” Fort said of Lee. “A good leader not only asks ‘what now’ but ‘what next’ … always anticipating the future. But a good leader also knows when it’s time to step out. Wanda, you have positioned this organization (WMU) for great days ahead.”
Photo by Jenna Wachsmuth
Retiring Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) Executive Director Wanda Lee (left) is presented with a check by Marilyn Graves (center), president of North Carolina Baptist Nursing Fellowship, and Kaye Miller, former president of WMU.
Kevin Ezell, president of the North American Mission Board, thanked Lee for her leadership and presented a check for $15,000 to the Wanda Lee Joy Fund in her honor. Marilyn Graves, president of Baptist Nursing Fellowship, presented Lee with a donation of $500 to the Joy Fund. These along with other donations, including $15,000 from the International Mission Board, bring the total given to this fund over the past six months to more than $62,000. The Wanda Lee Joy Fund benefits a solid financial foundation for the operational expenses of national WMU. For more information about the Wanda Lee Joy Fund or to give online, visit wmufoundation.com.
In January, Lee announced her intention to retire as executive director of national WMU. A search committee continues to prayerfully identify WMU’s next executive director.