Mary Hill Davis
___By Joy Fenner
___She could be remembered for her keen and active interest in patriotic organizations, humanitarian causes and literary pursuits. However, Texas Baptists remember Mary Hill Davis because of her high allegiance to the Master and chief loyalty to his cause of global missions.
___Consistent themes are revealed in her addresses as president of Woman's Missionary Union of Texas, 1907-1931.
___ View of the whole world. While living and serving in a young and changing Texas, she repeatedly reminded the women, "The keynote of our meetings shall be missions--not a one-sided view of the world's evangelization, but a glorious comprehension of the risen Lord's scheme of redemption, which left out not one soul that was ever to be born in all the earth."
|MARY HILL DAVIS
Photo: Texas Baptist Historical Collection
___ Vitality of the church. She urged every church--no matter its size--to have a "fully-graded union." This meant consistent, ongoing missions education for every age. With communications and transportation that seem primitive by today's standards, she sought a heart connection with women in the churches.
___ Value of training and educating women. Christian education had no greater proponent than Mary Hill Davis. She was relentless in urging WMU to give generously to Texas Baptist colleges so that women might be educated. Woman's Memorial Dormitory at Baylor University, University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, a WMU Training School at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, as well as two schools in China, were tangible expressions. Inextricably linked with a challenge for formal education was an admonition to "train the young women."
___ Validity of social issues. Believing that Christian women could and should influence society, timely social issues such as child welfare laws, temperance movement and woman's suffrage were highlighted. Leading the women in concerted concern for the care of orphans and for aged ministers and their wives, she was influential in forming Texas Baptist childcare institutions and the Southern Baptist Annuity Board.
___ Vision of eternal significance. Long before it was popular for organizations to have vision statements, Mary Hill Davis in her 1920 presidential address said, "The vision of the organization is that it be enabled to make the work of missions so real that every Baptist woman and girl may be interested in the sending forth of the gospel message throughout the world."
___ Vehicle for Texas missions. The spiritual needs of a continually changing Texas with its tapestry of races and cultures led WMU to begin a week of prayer and offering for state missions just as was already established for home and foreign missions. Mary Hill Davis clearly believed, "In the providence of God, Texas Baptist women are clearly called into this rich harvest field."
___After her death in 1934, the executive board of WMU of Texas named the offering in her memory.
___What began as an offering of only a few thousand dollars today exceeds $5.5 million. Each year as children, youth, men and women pray for Texas and give to the Mary Hill Davis Offering, they participate in an ever-widening array of cutting-edge missions opportunities undertaken by the Baptist General Convention of Texas.
___Joy Fenner is executive director of Woman's Missionary Union of Texas in Dallas
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