Thank you, Debby

During my 15 years as executive director of national WMU®, I have been blessed to work with wonderful women who serve on our executive board. Each person has brought her unique gifts and skills as a leader to the work we do together on behalf of national WMU and in our states. Likewise, each national WMU president I have served with has demonstrated incredible leadership skills and a strong commitment to our missions purpose. Debby Akerman, who has served as our national president since 2010, is one of those dynamic leaders.

Debby and I first met in 1994 when we served on the WMU Executive Board as state presidents. Debby represented New England while I represented Georgia. I think there was an instant bond because we were both working nurses at the time and knew the challenges of serving as a state president while maintaining a career. I remember introducing Debby to fried green tomatoes in Atlanta one year and she returned the favor by taking me for my first bowl of clam chowder in Boston. As fellowship officers, one year we planned a mystery ride for the state presidents during a conference at Ridgecrest that ended with high tea on the veranda of an old restored house in Black Mountain, North Carolina. We loved serving together as state presidents!

In addition to the fellowship we shared, there were significant deliberations during those years as WMU voted to establish the WMU Foundation, selected special emphases for the church curriculum, and addressed the challenges of change in the way our churches participated in missions. Debby was known as a thoughtful, prayerful leader then and has continued to lead us in the same manner as our national president. We have been blessed by her writing through the curriculum but especially through two books, Hold On and Secrets to Surrender. She has been an articulate speaker of biblical truths and a staunch supporter of all things missions through WMU.

One of Debby’s greatest contributions may lie in her ability to build relationships with people she met through her committee and denominational service. I’ve marveled at her ability to win friends when some questioned if WMU had anything to offer them. She can speak in an instant when called upon and provide wise counsel when needed to anyone who crosses her path. It was related to me at a recent International Mission Board trustee meeting that someone suggested she become an honorary trustee because of her faithfulness to attend the meetings as well as appointment services. That is quite a compliment!

Thank you, Debby, for your many contributions to missions education and involvement through WMU.

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