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WMU prayer garden honors O’Briencomment (0)

July 2, 2010

By Katie Wood

Friends and colleagues of Dellanna West O’Brien gathered outside the national Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) building in Birmingham on June 22 to dedicate a prayer garden in her memory. O’Brien, who died in 2008, served as executive director of the Southern Baptist Convention auxiliary from 1989 to 1999.

Her husband, Bill, said she was a woman of prayer. “I can’t think of anything that would honor Dellanna more than a prayer garden,” he added. 

O’Brien’s well-known commitment to prayer for missionaries is why WMU chose to honor her in this way, said Wanda Lee, executive director of WMU since 2000, noting a marker is traditionally placed on the gravesite of former WMU executives and presidents.

The garden itself has been in progress for about a year. It is filled with some of O’Brien’s favorite things, including dogwoods, Japanese maples and azaleas. Resting atop a layer of stonework in the garden’s center is a bench made of Alabama sandstone.  

Lee said after talking to Bill O’Brien about the garden’s location, they decided that Dellanna O’Brien would have liked to look out her office window and see it. “The [garden] is in a place where the executive director, whoever it may be, will always be able to look out their window and be reminded of prayer,” she said.

Lee also noted that visitors and staff often walk along the sidewalk surrounding the building and hopes that the garden will serve as an encouragement to and place of prayer for all who pass by.

The dedication ceremony began with the singing of one of Dellanna O’Brien’s favorite hymns, “I Love to Tell the Story,” led by Andrea Mullins of New Hope Publishers, the publishing arm of WMU. Lee and Bill O’Brien spoke about Dellanna O’Brien’s life and ministry. David George, president of the WMU Foundation, concluded the ceremony with a prayer of dedication, saying there were no special words that would dedicate the land but rather people’s love for Dellanna O’Brien.

One of the first to say a prayer in the newly dedicated garden was Eddie G. Gibson, international director of Eddie Gibson International Ministries. He joined hands with Bill O’Brien while he prayed and said he felt as though Dellanna O’Brien was there. Gibson noted that she had always encouraged him in his ministry. “It was a special prayer because she was a lady [who believed] in me and prayed for me,” he said. “She was a real woman of faith.”

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