By Julie Waters
ST. LOUIS — Mindy Jamison, co-director of Friendship Baptist Center in Des Moines, Iowa, for the past 17 years along with her husband Jon, is this year’s recipient of the Dellanna West O’Brien Award for Women’s Leadership Development.
“Mindy pours her life into people living in the inner city of Des Moines, and at the same time invites and encourages others to minister alongside her,” said Joni Wilkinson, executive director of Iowa Woman’s Missionary Union and volunteer at the Friendship Center, who recommended Jamison for the award. “She is a mentor to women of all ages and backgrounds and continues to teach about her passion — living out her faith in her community and seeing people living in poverty come to know Christ.”
The Jamisons are well known to many Tennessee Baptists who traveled to Des Moines and worked at the Friendship Center during the decade or so that the Tennessee Baptist Convention partnered with the Baptist Convention of Iowa.
Wanda Lee, executive director of national WMU, presented Jamison with the award during the WMU Missions Celebration on June 13 in St. Louis. The gathering was held there in conjunction with the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting.
Established in 1998, the O’Brien award recognizes a Baptist woman who demonstrates the ability to foster leadership in women. David George, president of the WMU Foundation, also presented a grant of $2,500 to help Jamison continue her development and ministry to others.
Accepting the award, Jamison reflected on her experience as a summer missionary in St. Louis. “In 1996, I came (to Missouri) and (served) under Vivian (McCaughan) and learned some really wonderful things about being a minister. If you knew her, you know she lived out her call courageously and made no apologies about who she was in Christ, and that was a wonderful example to me.”
Then in 1999, Jamison went to New Orleans and served with missionaries Kay Bennett and Ginger Smith, two other women who live out their call courageously, she said.
Jamison underscored the importance of building relationships for effective ministry and outreach.
“Gone are the days when we can swoop into a community that’s living in poverty and pass out free things and feel like that is ministry to people in poverty,” she said. “We must be about building real, authentic relationships with those impacted by poverty.
“They are not there for our amusement or to feel good about ourselves or what we’ve done that day,” Jamison noted. “They are living in chronic chaos, chronic pain, and chronic trouble. We must build real, authentic relationships with them. Let’s let the gospel transform their lives in such a way that they transform their own communities.”
Jamison received a degree in social work from Carson-Newman College, Jefferson City, and a master of divinity from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
The Jamisons, who have one daughter, served as missionaries through the North American Mission Board until December 2015. This past year they served as missionaries through the Baptist Convention of Iowa.
In addition, they serve as community ministry consultants for the Baptist Convention of Iowa, helping to educate churches on the culture of poverty and to build relationships with hurting communities. They also lead a worship service at the Friendship Center on Sundays.