Armstrong, Annie Walker
- (1850-1938)American Baptist missionary executiveLottie Moon, the missionary to China, is largely credited with opening the Southern Baptist Convention to the value of women in its missionary program, However, Moon's challenges to the convention were largely implemented through the efforts of her American counterpart, Annie Walker Armstrong.Born in Baltimore, Armstrong was described by acquaintances as independent, outspoken, and opinionated. Those who worked with her came to value her organizational skills.As she lacked formal education, the church became the primary vehicle for Armstrong's formidable talents. In 1870, she helped form the Maryland Baptists Woman's Mission to Women. it was in place when the first women missionaries (other than spouses of male missionaries) were appointed under the auspices of the Southern Baptist Convention. Over the next years, a number of local women's missionary societies were formed.In 1887, Lottie Moon, one of the original 1872 missionaries, challenged Southern Baptist women to unite in a week of prayer for foreign missions. Armstrong stepped forward as the champion of Moon's cause. She also took the lead in organizing the many local societies and Baptist women in general into the Women's Missionary Union (WMU), and she became its first executive. She served unpaid for the next 16 years.Armstrong set the focus for the WMU in a three-point program of education, prayer for missions, and fund-raising. The first annual Christmas offering was held in 1888. over the next 100 years, the offering raised a cumulative total of more than $1 billion for missions. It became the largest lay organization within the Southern Baptist Convention and went on to become the largest Protestant women's missionary organization in the world.Armstrong retired in 1906 but lived another three decades. She remained an active Southern Baptist, never marrying.Further reading:■ Jacqueline Durham, Miss Strong Arm: The Story of Annie Armstrong (Nashville, Tenn.: Broadman Press, 1966)■ Elizabeth Marshall Evans, Annie Armstrong (Birmingham, Ala.: Woman's Missionary Union, 1963)■ Bobbie Sorrill, Annie Armstrong: Dreamer in Action (Nashville, Tenn.: Broadman Press, 1984)■ Ruth Tucker, Guardians of the Great Commission. (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1988).
Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Gordon Melton. 2005.
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