The ladies of the Circle of Love WMU group are well-known in their community of Childersburg, Alabama, as being both the hands and feet of Jesus. They work hard to show that their love of Christ extends beyond the pew, making a difference through special needs ministries, teddy bear ministries, and more.
These ladies recently honored one of their own, Catherine Ray, with a brick on the Walk of Faith. According to Doylene McDowell, a Circle of Love member, Catherine was seen as something of a celebrity in her sleepy little town in Alabama when she and her family moved there in 1950.
Many years before, Catherine found her love of WMU as a Sunbeam, where she learned all about missions and missionaries by her leader Mrs. Evie in Whistler, Alabama. Catherine took this love of missions with her throughout her life, volunteering to help with WMU groups at various churches and eventually becoming the Director of Missions at First Baptist Church in Childersburg.
When church leadership no longer supported having a WMU group, Catherine didn’t let that stop her—she just started having meetings in her own home instead. As years went by, the group decided to call themselves the Circle of Love, and ladies from other churches in the community began attending, as well.
“The group was named the Circle of Love because love is a circle that knows no bounds. The more you give, the more comes around,” explained McDowell. Each lady in the group believes wholeheartedly in this mantra as they serve in their community, and Catherine was always heading up the charge.
As the Circle of Love group grew, the ladies were able to take on bigger projects and make an even bigger impact in their community. “We are a loving and giving group of people who love the Lord,” McDowell said. “We find a need, and if we don’t have the money in our account, we work in any way to get the job done. I’m not afraid to get my neighbors, my dentist, or my pharmacy involved!” Catherine, as well as several other missions heroes in the group, taught these ladies that being the hands and feet of Jesus should be their top priority. They have found their missions passion, and it shows.
Catherine was in assisted living in 2020 when the Circle of Love shared with her they had purchased a brick in honor of her fifty years of faithful service to missions support and leadership. Due to the global pandemic, the presentation was virtual, but Catherine still greatly appreciated the honor. “Even COVID-19 couldn’t stop God’s work,” McDowell said. “We need more Catherines.”
Catherine passed away in April 2021, but her missions legacy lives on through the Circle of Love group. “Her work will continue on,” explained McDowell. “We hope everyone lives like Catherine lived.”
Visit wmufoundation.com/walkoffaith to learn more about how you or your WMU group can honor your own missions heroes on the Walk of Faith.
Written by Maegan Dockery, WMU Foundation communications manager.