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Tributes to Walter and Betty Whitehurst upon their retirement at the end of 2004

Click here for other photos of the Whitehursts

Walt and Betty Whitehurst served as consultants for the General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM) from 1999-2004, placing individual volunteers from the four jurisdictions located outside the Southeast, as well as from other countries. Prior to that, they served as Director and Associate Director, respectively, of UMVIM, SEJ. They will long be remembered for their contribution, support and love of the individuals with whom they have worked. They have planted many seeds which will bloom and grow for years to come. Below are expressions of appreciation and tributes to them from persons they have touched.
- Jeanie Blankenbaker, Assistant General Secretary, Mission Volunteers, GBGM [retired, July 2006]

To say that you two will be missed is a profound understatement. You have left a legacy of caring, nurturing, and a mission ideal that will endure in all of us who attempt to follow in your footsteps. You have been wise guides (not wise guys, Walt), and a continued source of inspiration and support for all of us who have participated in the Individual Volunteer Program. Walt, after trading jokes for the past five years, you are so far ahead of me that I gave up hope of catching up with you. I have very much appreciated your gentle humor. Our prayers and best wishes will be with you as you enter into your new areas of service.
- Roger Boe, Medical Consultant, Individual Volunteers

Thank you for all your work. You really have done an excellent job through the years.
- Nick Elliott, Southeastern Jurisdiction UMVIM Director

Very best wishes to each of you in your new ventures for the New Year. Surely the angel of good tidings has been singing through your lives and witness. I'm grateful to have heard that song through you, his servants. Blessings.
- Paul F. Perry, Texas

Tom Hyle had wonderful things to say about you both as volunteer facilitators and I'm sure that he represents many, many others in their appreciation for all you have done. I hope retirement will be a fresh, new step in your journeys.
- Kim Strong, Amity Foundation

I want to thank you for your generous hearts and caring hands for those who are in mission and the ones we go to serve. I count it a high privilege to have been trained under your leadership for Individual VIM. I know you will be a blessing in your new areas of leadership and service.
- Dianne Wilkinson, Louisiana

Hope your retirement is wonderful! I have loved working with you in all aspects! Glad you came to the Central Texas Conference to do the training and that I had the opportunity to work with you.
- Gloria Reeves, Texas

Thank you so much for the ministry that has been your life during these years as missions coordinators. Thank you for guiding so many persons in a way that they have been able to serve Christ by touching the lives of so many.
- Judy Siaba, GBGM director

Espero que el año que llega sea lleno de grandes bendiciones en sus nuevos ministerios. Muchas felicidades, Dios dará nuevos éxitos y alegrias. Ustedes si que saben "brillar en el sitio donde esten". Con cariño.
- Priscila Rojas Quintero, Mexico Southeast Conference VIM Coordinator

I worked with Walt & Betty on various aspects of the Individual Volunteer program - website, insurance, Advance among other things - for a number of years. I came to deeply appreciate Betty's graciousness and efficiency and Walt's wit and leadership. They are a superb couple and make a great team. The Individual Volunteer program could not have been better run. Underlying it all are their dedication, love and faith.
- Michael DeBorja, Mission Volunteers, GBGM

I thank God that I was blessed to be in the Individual Volunteer training in Missouri last August. You were so organized, and you presented the material in such orderly fashion, making it so interesting with your personal stories and global examples from your experience. You kept us on schedule, and there was never a dull moment. You seasoned the whole day with such good humor that we did not want the session to end. As a speaker for our Missions Day at Locust UMC in Columbia, Betty taught us that mission is both local and global. What an impact you made on our members. Three people joined the church that day, and seven more have joined since. Betty and Walter, you have been blessed with a wealth of knowledge and experience and spiritual wisdom, and we have been the recipients of these.
- Victor Sawyer, Maryland

I continue to organize and direct construction missions to serve the lovely people of Costa Rica. The support of the SEJ UMVIM staff in Atlanta and encouragement of Walt and Betty has fortified me through the years.
- Charles (Chuck) Wheat, Costa Rica

Let us all thank God for Betty and Walt for they have been more than a blessing in God's work and to each one of us individually.
- Norma Sandowski, Massachusetts

"Around the world a message runs!" This phrase introduces an Easter carol, which celebrates the victory of love and the power of life. Thus, it may be fitting that these words came to mind when I began to write this message of gratitude to Walt and Betty Whitehurst for their service to everyone who has been part of the global network of Individual Volunteers in Mission under their watch. During the 4 1/2 years that I have been in their care, I have been impressed, touched, and strengthened by the unique blend of practical attention and pastoral sensitivity that they have consistently offered to me and to many other I-VIM's in diverse situations all over the world. For their graceful gifts to all of us, I am quite thankful. The Easter carol concludes with the words, "no more let sin and sorrow grow. Sing love, sing joy, for Christ is King." This encouraging image seems to be a hallmark of the spirit that Walt and Betty have bequeathed to the I-VIM program. May the song of love and joy that they have intoned so well continue to reverberate as a symbol of their faith and service.
- Joyce J. (Mauler) Michael, Czech Republic

In December of 2003, I was talking to Kathy Mann of the Texas Conference about my retirement and my calling to become more active in volunteer missions work. She mentioned something called Individual Volunteers and gave me your names and phone number, and probably an email address. So I called you up, filled out the forms and before I know it I am in Dulac, Louisiana, for the IVIM training weekend in February 2004. I learned a lot (about me, about serving others in Christ's name and about my peer volunteers.) I saw Christ in you and the others that were there. The training session/reunion in August in Missouri was like getting a second helping of turkey and dressing and pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving. Thank you for your witness, your talents, your jokes, your prayers, your music, your stories, your kindness, your flexibility, your ideas, your organizational focus and a million other things that you shared and continue to share with the rest of us. May God bless you as you continue to do His work in the world.
- Ken Meyer, Oklahoma

My life has been spent in mission, first as a full-time missionary, then as a pastor in mission in the States and on short trips and finally as an individual volunteer. One of my greatest joys and blessings has been to have the direction and care of Walt and Betty Whitehurst. I always felt that they had been there and could help in most anything I might need. I was thankful that they made themselves available to me and were excellent teachers both in written word and in person. They have done such a wonderful, caring job for us all. I will miss them.
- Leta Gorham, South Korea

We'll always be grateful for the special blessings that Walt and Betty Whitehurst have been in our lives. We first attended Individual Volunteers in Mission training a year ago in Dulac, Louisiana, and it was so wonderful that we attended a second time during the summer in Lawson, Missouri. Walt and Betty are so warm, dedicated, and caring. We learned so much, both times !! And now, because of their guidance and leadership, we are leaving for Israel and Palestine on Feb. 22, to serve as Individual Volunteers for three months at Mar Elias Educational Institution in Ibillin, Israel. The Whitehursts will surely be missed, and we wish God's richest blessings for them as they go on to new ministries.
- Don and Gloria Delaplain, Texas

I met Walt and Betty in 2002 when I attended the New Mexico Orientation. They have been very supportive of me and I will miss them. They have been a pleasure to know and I thank God for sharing them with me. I went to Kenya in 2003 with a team from Greenbay, WI. We did a Vacation Bible School and tutored and visited the Kaaga Childrens Home, the Kithoka Polytechnic and the Gakaramone Feeding Center. Whether it be in AIDS education or just simply listening and wiping the tear from a cheek, to playing soccer with the street children in Kisumu, Kenya, and spreading the gospel, you just never know how the Lord is going to use you.
- Lora Terry


Photo credits: Bill Bache, Jeanie Blankenbaker