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Benevolent work and a variety of traditional women's activities not specifically classified as missions or education were officially recognized as a feature of the BWMW in 1909 when a department of Personal Service was added to the organization to foster those activities. The director solicited reports from members of societies to encourage their "Christian witnessing." A typical one asked:

How many visits: to the sick____, to the needy____ to shutins____, to prisoners_____, to hospitals____ and to county homes____? How many tracts given____, Bibles____? How many positions have you secured for those out of work____? How many garments sewn or given to the poor____? How many groceries given to the needy____? R. G. Commander, The Story of the Union Baptist Association, 1840-1976 (Houston: D. Armstrong, Publisher, 1977), p. 163.

Opportunities to enhance one's numerical assessment on such a form were increased during World War I when Baptist women were encouraged to participate in Red Cross work and other patriotic endeavors. R. G. Commander recalls that the Houston WMU "organized and provided some social life for the young men" who were stationed at Ellington Field and Camp Logan (near present-day Memorial Park). Ibid., p. 164.

While quotas and efficiency standards had not replaced religious faith and zeal as the primary motivation of Texas Baptist women by 1920, the proportion of time and interest given to them is indisputable. These data were a major focus of most programs, articles, and reports. Once women's successful experience with standards, goals, and apportionments convinced them they could train the timid, account for the recalcitrant, and win denominational (male) approval, they gave themselves with fervor to creating program guides, statistical charts, watchwords and slogans, collection devices, and an endless round of jubilees, anniversaries, and significant-sounding names or catchy labels. In so doing, they began to relish administrative tasks and the sense of worth the compilation of figures and programs conveyed, fashioning for themselves an organizational system that existed alongside their biblical fundamentalism, threatening at times to obscure if not supplant it.

As president of this developing administrative model, Mary Davis operated rather like a Chief Executive Officer—identifying competent people to assist her, meeting regularly with officers to account for progress and consolidate plans, staying abreast of denominational developments, and serving as a model and inspiration for the group.

She was the ideal leader for a growing Baptist bureaucracy: a combination of orator and executive.

Mrs. Davis revitalized the woman's department of the Baptist Standard , which had been reduced to a page of reprints (primarily pious poetry, moral tales, and household hints) following Hollie Harper Townsend's death and Mary Gambrell's opting for The Missionary Worker as her publishing forum, and utilized it to convey the personal and spiritual dimension of the BWMW's programs, meetings, and reports. But she communicated most effectively and memorably in her addresses, which J. M. Carroll described as "strong, statesmanlike, and prophetic." Carroll, p. 863. Note that these adjectives are both masculine and complementary. She spoke in an effulgent, oratorical style that upheld "the stainless flag of King Emmanuel," "the dignity and blessedness of motherhood and the preciousness of childhood." Proceedings of the BWMW of Texas, 1915, pp. 185, 186. Clearly civilization was entering "a new dispensation and embracing a new freedom," Minutes of BWMW of Texas, 1909, pp. 179-80. in which Baptists—Baptist women, in particular—would play a preeminent role through their missionary efforts. Her vision of missions encompassed "a glorious comprehension of the risen Lord's scheme of redemption, which left out not one soul that was ever to be born in all the earth" Report of the Proceedings of BWMW of Texas, 1908, p. 179. and called for whatever toil or method accomplished its grand purpose. "We are small detachments of a great army," she explained, but we should never lose sight of the "great battlefield" on which we struggle.

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Source:  OpenStax, Patricia martin's phd thesis. OpenStax CNX. Dec 12, 2012 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11462/1.1
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