Retired missionary supported by Mother’s Day Offering

A retired Southern Baptist missionary is the latest recipient of assistance from the annual Mother’s Day Offering for South Carolina Baptist Ministries for the Aging.

Barry Mitchell, who served with his late wife, Laura, as a missionary to Brazil for 25 years, lives at Martha Franks Baptist Retirement Community in Laurens.

“I truly appreciate the support we had while serving on the mission field,” said Mitchell, “and I am thankful to those who support the Mother’s Day Offering so I can continue to live out my last years in a Christ-centered retirement community with others of similar faith.”

The Mother’s Day Offering, received annually by South Carolina Baptist churches, is designated to provide assistance to qualifying retired pastors, missionaries and spouses to live in one of SCBMA’s two retirement communities — Martha Franks in Laurens, or Bethea in Darlington.

The Mitchells, who both attended Furman University and Southwestern Seminary, began serving in Brazil in 1955. Barry was a field missionary and executive secretary-treasurer of the state convention in Brazil. Laura taught at the theological seminary.

After the couple retired from missionary service, Barry served as interim pastor at churches in South Carolina and Georgia. The Mitchells moved to an apartment at Martha Franks in 2008, and Barry transferred to the assisted-living area in December 2011. Laura passed away shortly after that.

“I planned well for my retirement, but I never thought that I would live this long,” said Barry.

“South Carolina Baptists know that mission work takes many forms,” said Tom Turner, president of South Carolina Baptist Ministries for the Aging. “While traditional missions focus on reaching the unchurched, SCBMA, through the Mother’s Day Offering, provides for our own in the later stages of life.

“It is a reality that many devoted pastors, missionaries and their spouses find themselves in the retirement phase of life with limited funds. For this reason, our board of trustees created a special program in 2008, the Mother’s Day Offering fund, to help support elderly brothers and sisters who devoted their lives to serving Christ in our Baptist churches.”

Prior to 2008, the Mother’s Day Offering was used to support capital improvements at Martha Franks and Bethea. The two facilities serve an average population of 350 senior adults, many of whom are retired Baptists, Turner said.

Contributions to the Mother’s Day Offering are placed in a fund managed by the Baptist Foundation of South Carolina, Turner said. Financial assistance is provided through earnings accumulated from the fund. The 2013 distribution was double the amount distributed the previous year, Turner said.

Throughout the program’s history, in addition to Mitchell, SCBMA has been able to assist three retired Baptist pastors and three retired Baptist laymen.

Recipients of the Mother’s Day Offering fund must meet established guidelines and be approved by the SCBMA’s board of trustees. A qualified recipient is an active or retired Southern Baptist minister, missionary or spouse with a history of involvement and support of ministries and missions endorsed by the Cooperative Program. A layperson with lifelong service to the church or the Southern Baptist or South Carolina Baptist conventions may also be considered eligible.

Turner said continued support of the Mother’s Day Offering is “essential to a continued and healthy mission to our retired pastors and missionaries.”

South Carolina Baptist churches were sent a postcard in March, asking them to order materials to promote the offering. Churches can also download materials from

“It is our prayer that, as the fund continues to grow, many more seniors will be able to benefit from the care and love of Baptist churches in South Carolina and South Carolina Baptist Ministries for the Aging,” Turner said.