For this Missourian, M&Ms means missions, ministry
WMU leader serves the Lord ‘thru girls’ stuff
By Barbara Shoun
August 23, 2005
HILLSBORO– “I’ve been in WMU from diapers to Depends,” quips Julie Norris, new Missouri Women’s Missionary Union (MWMU) board member for the East Central Region. She was appointed to fill the unexpired term of Joan Dotson, who accepted the position of missionary advocate.
Having accepted Christ as her Savior at age 7, she says of WMU, “Jesus wanted me for a Sunbeam (now Mission Friends), and I’ve been in it ever since.” She’s come up through GA’s, Acteens, Baptist Student Union, Ministry Wives at seminary, and WMU. Of her adult life, she says, “Before we went into full-time ministry, one of our constants was our church life and WMU.”
Norris is on the staff at First Baptist Church, Hillsboro, where Wayne, her husband of 31 years, serves as pastor.
“Before coming here, we were church planters in Colorado,” Julie said. “When we were called to Missouri, the first thing I did was find out what was going on in WMU.”
She believes in a strong relationship between WMU and other women’s programs in the church. “It’s all girls’ stuff to me,” she says.
She refers to women’s ministries as M&M’s – missions and ministry – with WMU being a big part of both.
“I am deeply committed to WMU. I love being able to pick and choose in my church, based on what both have to offer. We have the prayer calendar and traditional WMU ministry, but we’re doing a lot of other fun things as well.”
Norris believes in women of all ages working together. She teaches a Sunday School class of women from 17 to 87.
“We call it the Young Women’s Class,” she says. “There’s a journey. Somebody is a little farther down the road and you can see their tail lights. It helps to know that somebody has been that way before.
“I dearly love and respect the women I have met here in Missouri,” she said. “Some of these women have a phenomenal history of doing things. These are real women who have been out there doing it for Jesus. They have paved the way. There is such a history and knowledge to be gained from these women. I treasure those times with older women.”
In addition to her work in women’s ministries, she is the children’s ministry director at Hillsboro, working with children through youth. She is also in charge of the drama program, a ministry of special interest to her and her family.
The Norrises came into ministry later in life after successful secular careers, part of which included theater, art, and modeling.
Their four sons absorbed the love of theater. Jason and his wife live in New York City where he is a lighting designer. Adrian, in Colorado, is lead singer for a band while working toward a degree to become an English teacher. Devon, a senior at Hillsboro High School, hopes to pursue a degree in musical theater performance. Anthony, an eighth grader, is the family comedian.
Norris infuses her theatrical training into workshops and speaking engagements. Hers was one of the more popular workshops at this year’s annual MWMU meeting at Ellisville.
“She’s one of the most creative leaders I’ve seen in a long time,” reports Vivian McCaughan, Missouri Baptist Convention women’s missions and ministry specialist. “She has a good sense of how WMU and women’s ministry should come together to be involved in missions – not only doing personal groups, like Bible studies, but turning themselves outward to the community and the world.”
For two years of the five she’s lived in Missouri, Norris served as director of the Jefferson Baptist Association’s WMU. Now she will be expanding her contacts to the whole East Central Region, which includes the Franklin, Jefferson, St. Louis Metro, and Twin Rivers (Lincoln, Montgomery, Warren, St. Charles and St. Louis Counties) Associations.
“I look forward to meeting people who are making it happen in the other associations,” she said. “I’m excited about the opportunity to learn what’s happening in our district and in our state.”
Coining a phrase, she says she’ll be “prayer driving” in her region. She intends to find each associational office and meet the people. She hopes to hold a regional event. She asks women to pray for her and to contact her with suggestions.
“I covet the prayers of Missouri women, whether they’re involved or not involved in WMU,” she says. She can be contacted through First Baptist Church, Hillsboro, at 636-789-2644.
“This is something God has called me to at this point in my life and ministry career,” she said. “These are challenging and exciting days. There are a lot of questions that there are no answers to. It’s most important that we stick together and invest time on our knees so that God will be glorified in everything in these days.”