Ruby Fulbright, executive director/treasurer of Woman’s
Missionary Union of North Carolina (WMU-NC) since May 1, 2002, will retire at
the end of this year.
Fulbright, who led WMU-NC to make a dramatic change in
relationship with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina and to
re-establish itself as a completely autonomous body, announced her retirement
to her executive board August 18 at a special called meeting.
“My journey as executive director/treasurer has been an
incredible experience,” Fulbright reflected. “It has had all the elements
of being fun, very busy, mind and body stretching, humbling, sometimes
frightening and difficult, but mostly meaningful.
“Along with the WMU-NC officers, executive board and staff,”
Fulbright continued, “we have met some incredible challenges; we’ve dreamed new
dreams and seen many of them come true; we’ve been true to our purpose and
we’ve been true to ourselves. Most importantly, we’ve watched God work
when the element of faith was absolutely essential.”
For nine years, Fulbright has led the state-wide missions
organization and helped advance missions education and missions opportunities
throughout her tenure. During this period, WMU-NC continued to be one of
the strongest state organizations and experienced consistent growth.
Successful efforts under her leadership include the establishment of a
Missionary Parent Fellowship of North Carolina in 2006; hosting the MK Re-Entry
Retreat at Camp Mundo Vista in 2008; the creation of SHINE (Serving God,
Helping others, Inspiring believers, Networking community, Experiencing Christ)
for young women; WMU-NC sponsored mission trips that ministered to the needs of
women and children; and reinstating the Heck-Jones Offering for organizational
In 2008, Fulbright was presented the Anne Thomas Neil Award
by Baptist Women in Ministry of N.C. The award is given to individuals
who have made outstanding contributions to the cause of women in ministry.
“There is no doubt in my mind that God still has work — incredible
work — for WMU-NC, and He has gifted and called excellent leadership for this
time,” Fulbright said. “North Carolina is blessed beyond measure to have
Tana Hartsell as president, the current executive board and staff of WMU-NC to
lead into the next 125 years.”
The sentiment is mutual. Hartsell said, “What a blessing
for me to walk this WMU-NC journey with Ruby. We have shared experiences
that lifted us to the very heights of heaven but also those which humbly put us
on our knees at the Father’s feet.”
Hartsell added that while it is difficult to imagine WMU-NC
without Ruby’s presence and guidance, the executive board continues the
visioning process begun in January.
“Following the celebration of our 125-year history, Ruby has
led us in the plans and preparations to move forward with that same courage,
strength, and faith of our foremothers … not reliving or staying in the
past, but boldly setting the course to move toward being the premier
organization for providing quality missions education and missions involvement
to all who share our common cause and purpose of fulfilling the Great
Commission in our world.”
A native of Kinston, Fulbright received her education from
Mars Hill College in Mars Hill and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in
Fulbright and her husband, Ellis, served as Southern Baptist
missionaries to Zambia from 1974-1986. They have three children and four
grandchildren. She has been active in all levels of WMU — church,
associational, state and national. Her lifetime involvement — from church
WMU director to state executive director — with WMU-NC stands as a prime
example of the grassroots philosophy of the organization.
Prior to leading WMU-NC, Fulbright was director of
discipleship and missions at Immanuel Baptist Church in Greenville, and served
in administration for both the South Roanoke Baptist Association in Greenville
and the Alexander Baptist Association in Taylorsville.
“I may be retiring from working full time, but I am
not retiring from my love and prayers for WMU-NC,” Fulbright said. “I am
not retiring from God’s call on my life to be Christ’s presence in the
world. I anticipate that He has something more for me to do.”
Fulbright’s last day as executive director/treasurer of WMU-NC
will be December 31, 2011.
According to the WMU-NC bylaws, the personnel
committee will serve as the search committee for her replacement. In the
interim, the executive committee will designate someone to assume Fulbright’s
responsibilities until a new executive director/treasurer is named.