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RESOURCE CENTER AND ARCHIVES

Bradford boosts Cook Springs WMU groupcomment (0)

June 23, 2005

By Leigh Pritchett


To celebrate their anniversary each year, Alton and Maizie Bradford took a trip.
   
One year, their anniversary excursion was to Montgomery for the state meeting of the Alabama Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU). Another year — one of the last anniversary trips they would take together — was to WMU Week at LifeWay Ridgecrest Conference Center in North Carolina.
   
“He liked missions just like I did,” Maizie Bradford said of her late husband.
   
So when she moved into assisted-living accommodations at The Village at Cook Springs near Pell City, it should have come as no surprise that the WMU group got a big boost.
   
When she arrived five years ago, a small group of ladies held WMU meetings monthly with Missions Mosaic magazines provided by nearby Cook Springs Baptist Church. Bradford began to support and promote the WMU group, and it outgrew its meeting room.
   
Now on the fourth Friday of the month at 4 p.m., the WMU gathers in a large activity room that overlooks a lake with a fountain. In general, the meetings consist of song time, prayer calendar and speaker.
   
“This WMU is kind of different,” Bradford said of The Village’s group. This WMU does not take an offering but encourages participants to give through their home churches during special emphases for missions, such as the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering or the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.
   
Another difference is that the group is comprised of all denominations, not just Baptists. People of various faiths are coming together to learn about missions, Bradford said. Missionaries from different denominations are invited to speak to the group. 
   
And this WMU is not just for women. “We invite our men, if they want to come,” she said.
   
As many as 25 people have attended The Village’s WMU meetings, which Bradford coordinates herself. She makes the necessary telephone calls and arrangements for the meetings, sometimes receiving assistance from volunteer Shirley Prince.
   
“I usually try to have two to three months of speakers (lined up),” Bradford said.
   
Patricia Chandler, wife of St. Clair Association Director of Missions Ben Chandler, spoke at a previous WMU meeting at The Village and is set to do so again June 24. Chandler describes the 93-year-old mother, grandmother and great-grandmother as “Miss WMU.”
   
“I’m just amazed at all she does,” Chandler said.
   
Coming from a legacy of missions-mindedness, Bradford’s love for missions runs deep.
   
“I’ve been in WMU all my life,” she said. “I actually started before I was born.”
   
Her mother, Myrtie White, was WMU president at every church  where Bradford’s father, W.L. White, served as pastor.
   
Bradford recalls her mother corresponding with Armstrong and Mary Ellen Caver and gladly shows off 1926 letters from Caver.
   
She considers Whites Chapel Baptist Church, Trussville, to be her home church because her father donated the land for it. She spent her teen years at Sulphur Springs Baptist Church, Trussville, where her dad was pastor.
   
Beginning at the age of 16, she took an active role in various aspects of church life, teaching Sunday School, playing piano and serving as training union director.
   
After marrying, Bradford attended what was then Powderly Baptist Church in Birmingham. She was also part of a group that assisted her father and Sulphur Springs Baptist in beginning a mission church, Cahaba View Baptist, Lovick.
   
This pleasant, smiling, embracing woman — who has survived cancer twice, had two strokes and suffered multiple broken bones — feels missions is her calling, so she concentrates her efforts on it.
   
“I feel like that’s what the Lord wanted me to do,” she said. “There’s so many people that haven’t heard the story of Jesus.”
   
She said the Great Commission tells Christians to go everywhere, telling other people about Jesus. “The Lord even tells us where to begin.”

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