Alma Hunt (Baptist leader)

Alma Hunt (Baptist leader)

Alma Hunt (5 October 1909 - 14 June 2008) was an influential and outspoken leader for women in the American Southern Baptist Convention. During her long tenure as executive secretary of the Woman's Missionary Union, from 1948 to 1974, she oversaw record-high membership and many new program initiatives.

A native of Roanoke, Virginia, Hunt was the daughter of a deacon of the First Baptist Church. She died as an ordained minister of the Rosalind Hills Baptist Church, which sought to recognize not only her long service to the church but also her vocal opposition to the Southern Baptist Convention's prohibition of women in the role of church pastors or military and prison chaplains.

Hunt graduated in 1941 from State Teacher’s College (now Longwood University) in Farmville, Virginia. In 1947, she earned a master of arts degree at Columbia University. William Jewell College, where she served as dean of women in 1945-48, awarded her an honorary doctorate of humanities, and in 1999 the University of Richmond awarded her an honorary doctorate of divinity.

One of Hunt's first initiatives after being chosen to head the WMU was to support the formation of the women's department of the Baptist World Alliance, and also the BWA's interdenominational North American Baptist Women's Union. She served as president of the latter in 1964-67, and vice president of the former in 1970-75.

After retiring as head of the WMU, she remained active as a volunteer. From 1976 to 1985, she served as consultant on women's mission work for the Baptist Foreign Mission Board (now the International Mission Board), which in 1997 named her an honorary emeritus missionary. At the 150th anniversary of the Southern Baptist Convention in 1995, Hunt was the only woman chosen to make a historical address. In 1998, the WMU of Virginia and the Baptist General Association of Virginia named the Alma Hunt Offering for Virginia Missions in her honor.

Several buildings have been named in her honor: the Alma Hunt Museum at WMU headquarters in Birmingham, Alabama, which houses her personal missions archives; the Alma Hunt Library at the John Leland Center for Theological Studies in Northern Virginia; and the Alma Hunt Cottage at Hope Tree Family Services (formerly known as the Virginia Baptist Children’s Home) in Salem, Virginia.

Her funeral service was Wednesday June 18 and was held at Rosalind Hills. It was presided over by former RHBC Pastor Rev. Dr. Tom Stocks and she was buried at Evergreen Burial Park in Roanoke.


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