By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
FRANKLIN — Jean Canida, a member of First Baptist Church, Mount Juliet, has been named the recipient of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board’s first “Light Award.”
Mark LeMay, facilities/risk management manager for the TBMB, said the Light Award is based on Matthew 5:16: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your father who is in heaven.”
“We want to recognize our volunteers who are making a difference for the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board across the state,” LeMay observed.
Canida received the award during the TBMB’s monthly staff meeting on Jan. 9.
“As with the annual Eagle award given at the Summit to an outstanding lay leader, the monthly Light Award is a way to recognize incredible volunteers that have an impact on missions in ministry in Tennessee and around the world,” said Randy C. Davis, president and executive director of the TBMB.
Canida has volunteered for a number of years. She has served on disaster relief trips and on international mission trips to Africa, Guatemala and Puerto Rico. She has a special passion for international missions.
“I love missions and I love people everywhere. They are just like you regardless of where they live. We are all alike, no matter the color or culture,” she stressed.
One of her most unique volunteer experiences was helping to move the remains of Tidence Lane from where he was buried to a new grave at First Baptist Church, Whitesburg, which was formerly known as Bent Creek Baptist Church. Lane was the founding pastor of Bent Creek Baptist in 1785, becoming the first pastor of any congregation, of any denomination, in the state of Tennessee.
Canida, however, may be best known for her work at the TBMB’s Missions Mobilization Center in Mount Juliet, LeMay said.
“Jean has put in more volunteer hours than any other person at the MMC,” he noted. “She was helpful in the initial construction, where she literally painted the entire inside of the facility by herself,” LeMay added.
Though the MMC has been completed for several years, Canida is at the facility nearly every day, responding to whatever ministry needs may arise, Lemay continued. “She is so important to our ministry that we have set her up a desk in the warehouse.
“Jean’s ministry reaches TBMB ministries all across the state. For example, she is a key in collecting and distributing the Christmas backpacks collected by our churches across Tennessee. … Her ‘get it done’ spirit has been invaluable to us at the MMC.”
Canida’s love for volunteer work is not limited to the TBMB. She is an active member at First Baptist, Mount Juliet, where she has a passion for working with preschoolers and singing in the choir. She also serves as a church greeter, VBS volunteer and in many other ministries when called upon.
Her willingness to volunteer is driven by Scripture, Canida said.
“We are told in the Bible to help those in need and God has given me the talent and ability. I love helping people while coming alongside them to share the love of Christ. I am thankful for the opportunities God has given me to help others.”