Who was Lula? We ask that question a lot this time of year at FBG! You may have heard the name Lula or even “met” Lula during a children’s sermon in recent years. But, do you know who Lula Whilden was and why we collect our church’s annual missions offering in her name? I share some highlights below. Many thanks to FBG member Louise Stanford who researched Lula and led the way in helping reshape our church’s offering campaign in 2011.

From Louise Stanford:

The Lula Whilden World Missions Offering, formerly known as Global Missions, is named in honor of an early member of First Baptist, Miss Lula Whilden. Born to missions-minded parents in Camden, SC, in 1846, Miss Whilden traveled to China with her family when she was two years old. Her mother died two years later, and the family had to return to the US. As a teenager living in South Carolina, she committed her life to full-time missionary service. Her mother had often prayed that her children’s lives would be spent in ministry on the foreign field, and Lula’s heart was moved by the prayers of her mother. Church records show that Miss Whilden joined First Baptist Greenville on April 4, 1868, and stayed until 1872 when she went to Canton, China. After graduating from Greenville Female College (now Furman University) in 1870 and while a member of First Baptist, Miss Whilden was appointed the first single career missionary by the Foreign Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. She preceded (Baptist missionary) Lottie Moon by a full year in China.

Though she endured hardships and faced numerous dangers, Miss Whilden courageously and lovingly served the people of Canton from 1872 until 1914. She quickly developed an intense interest in homeless children, particularly little blind girls, who had to become beggars for a living. In addition, Lula was drawn to the boat women who were forced to live their entire lives on small boats. A petite woman, Miss Whilden served courageously and tirelessly until 1914 when she was the victim of a vicious attack. She returned to Greenville on furlough, but was never able to recuperate sufficiently to return to the mission field. She died in Baptist Hospital in Columbia on September 26, 1916. Miss Whilden is buried in Springwood Cemetery in Greenville in the Whilden family plot and still has relatives in the Greenville area. 
 
Lula truly embodied missions and the love of Christ for the human soul.

 

It is fitting, then, that we honor her and challenge ourselves to carry on the missions legacy through our giving, prayer and involvement. The three recipient organizations of our annual Lula Whilden offering are the Alliance of Baptists, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF), and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of South Carolina (CBFSC). Through these affiliations we are able to affect change throughout our state, nation, and world. To learn more about each of these affiliates’ mission involvement, including how they are engaging in this COVID-19 context, visit their websites:
 
You may contribute to our Lula offering by bringing your offering to our drive-through candlelight experience on Sunday evening, December 20, or by giving online at https://firstbaptistgreenville.com/give/, by text (see website Give page for instructions), or by mailing or dropping off a check made payable to First Baptist Greenville and designated for Lula Offering. Look for more details in the December 7 issue of the Branch (and children, be on the lookout for more ways for you to be involved)!
 
Let’s give generously and keep Lula’s legacy alive and make a difference in the lives of individuals and communities close to home and across the world!
—Laura
 

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