After Thought: A state missions leader worthy of honor

By Todd Deaton

Published: April 17, 2018

Joy Bolton has been a true friend to the Western Recorder during her tenure as executive director of Kentucky Woman's Missionary Union, and during the recent Missions Celebration in Frankfort, our Board of Trustees expressed their "great gratitude" for her faithful service to Kentucky Baptists. In a surprise presentation on Saturday morning, Bolton, who has announced her intention to retire soon, received a framed copy of "A Resolution Commending Joy Bolton," which was accompanied by a monetary gift to the WMU Heritage Fund in her honor.

"She is going to be getting all kinds of accolades over the next several months," outgoing WMU President Susan Bryant said of Bolton, "but we have one of the agencies of the Kentucky Baptist Convention that is a very good friend of Kentucky WMU that wants to be the first to offer congratulations" upon her upcoming retirement.

In the resolution, Western Recorder's trustees thanked Bolton for using the state Baptist newspaper to keep WMU informed by publishing their newsletter, Kentucky Notes, and Eliza Broadus Offering inserts, and for partnering with the newspaper to inform Kentucky Baptists of the vital role of missionaries in furthering the spread of the gospel to a lost world.

In appreciation for Joy Bolton and the partnership WMU has shared with the Western Recorder, Editor Todd Deaton presents a gift from the Western Recorder Board of Trustees to the Heritage Fund in Bolton's honor.

"Joy Bolton has given unselfishly of her time, talents, prayer support and financial resources to help missionaries take the gospel to the nations as the leader of Kentucky WMU for the past 18 years," the resolution states. Under her capable leadership, Kentucky WMU is "a strong partner and advocate for Kentucky missionaries, and plays a significant role in growing the kingdom of God."

"Joy Bolton has led by example in her lifetime of service to WMU, passionately supporting and promoting the Cooperative Program and various state, national and international missions offerings," the resolution continues. Since September 1999 when she took the helm, the auxiliary has been instrumental in raising more than $18.7 million for state missions through the Eliza Broadus Offering. This year's goal for the Season of Prayer for State Missions is $1.25 million, and its theme, "Testify!" points to the need for personal evangelism to address the state's lostness.

The WR resolution notes that Kentucky WMU has had a role in the commissioning of state missionaries. Thirteen more were commissioned this year at Buck Run Baptist Church, participating in a pledge led by Eric Allen, KBC Missions Mobilization team leader. Currently, 96 missionaries serve through the Missions Service Corps.

In demonstrating "a strong personal passion for missions," Bolton has been "a catalyst for many Kentucky churches to move from being missions-minded to missions-active, and encouraging churches to contribute more to missionaries," the trustees state.

For example, in cooperation with the Missions Mobilization team, WMU recently helped promote the Christmas Backpack Project, collecting more than 8,000 backpacks filled with toys, clothing and food for needy children. These backpacks primarily assisted Appalachian Regional Ministries, Mississippi River Ministry, and the Send Cincinnati partnership.

And, Kentucky WMU recently sponsored a mission trip to Swaziland. Partnering with an emeritus missionary, a team of 12, which included Bolton and Bryant, delivered hospice buckets prepared by Kentucky Baptists. The team also led revival services, conducted a children's camp and trained WMU leaders there.

Among many other ministries, Kentucky WMU efforts have been expanded by taking on Kentucky Changers and Creative Ministries Festival, the resolution also notes. Last summer, Kentucky Changers worked in Shelbyville, Harrodsburg, Albany and Greensburg. Nearly 1,000 volunteers completed home repairs, resulting in 16 salvations and 30 rededications. A recent Creative Ministries Festival in Shelbyville offered classes in juggling, magic, clowning, balloons, signing, interpretive movement, dance, guitar, drums and voice.

In addition to traditional Baptist missions programs, such as Girls in Action, Acteens and Royal Ambassadors, Kentucky WMU is preparing the hearts of the next generation through Wild about Missions events that feature missionaries and Mission Adventure for Kentucky Kids, a three-day mission trip especially for children. Last year, campers in Louisville and Lexington prayerwalked city blocks, conducted VBS at nursing homes, sorted canned food for pantries, pulled weeds and raked yards for area ministries, and cleaned mattresses at a homeless shelter.

On and on, WMU missions activities go. "Joy Bolton will leave a legacy of faithfulness that will be the standard for all those who follow her in missions work," WR's resolution concludes. But Bolton has let it be known she isn't through: "As I look forward toward retirement, I will not coast," she said. "There is much to be done."