ST. LOUIS — Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Heartland honored four people with awards at its first Celebration of Excellence event April 30 in the Mabee Great Hall at Missouri Baptist University in St. Louis.
The honorees were Wil and Louise Duke, missions advocates and longtime members of Kirkwood Baptist Church; former U.S. Senator, Missouri First Lady and author Jean Carnahan; and Drew Phillips, associate campus minister at Chowan University in Murfreesboro, N.C., and former chaplain at the Christian Activity Center in East St. Louis, Ill.
The dinner celebration drew about 175 people.
National CBF Moderator Kasey Jones, pastor of National Memorial Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., was the keynote speaker.
Doug and Darla Gavin, also members of Kirkwood, introduced the Dukes at the gathering, citing their involvement in missions and especially their support of CBF field personnel Sasha and Mira Zivanov, who work with Bosnian immigrants in St. Louis and coordinate the Bosnia Food Pantry.
The Dukes’ son, Kerry, praised his parents for leading their family to be active in church and for their willingness to “help people in need” through efforts like a food pantry and the tutoring ministry his mother coordinated.
Cynthia Holmes, a Clayton attorney and past moderator for both national CBF and CBF Heartland, introduced Carnahan as a “First Lady who became a U.S. Senator,” alluding to her late husband Mel Carnahan’s tenure as Missouri governor and her appointment to the Senate after the original Democratic candidate, her late husband, was elected posthumously.
The governor perished with their son Randy and Mel Carnahan’s campaign adviser in a plane crash just three weeks before the election.
Jean Carnahan worked on Habitat for Humanity building projects, urged the establishment of more on-site daycare facilities and advocated for education for at-risk children, Holmes said. Carnahan also served on the Missouri Baptist Children’s Home Board of Trustees.
In the Senate, she was a member of the first congressional delegation to Afghanistan after 9-11 and conferred with heads of state in Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Oman. Among other accomplishments, she also secured an extension of health care benefits for returning reservists and National Guard members, Holmes said.
Carnahan passionately advocated for children, families and seniors, Limbaugh said. The former senator also passionately called on fellow legislators to lay partisanship aside…and “heed the plight of the hurting and helpless in society,” Holmes added.
Drew Phillips was unable to be present due to commitments at Chowan University, but Leslie Limbaugh, for several years active in St. Louis-area student ministry and now pastor of Selma American Baptist Church near Festus, told the audience about him.
Limbaugh mentioned her first contact with Phillips 16 years ago when he was a college student at Missouri Western State University and a student leader in Baptist campus ministry.
“He helped those who needed help,” she said. “He knew how to have fun, laugh easily and make sure people knew they were important.”
She recalled her contact in 2005, shortly after Phillips became chaplain at the Christian Activity Center, when she learned he had chosen a CBF partner school, Campbell University, for his Master of Divinity degree work.
She praised Phillips’ eight years at the CAC.
“What a beautiful congregation developed at the center, gathering for worship every Sunday, hearing the Word and learning what it means to be ‘church’ together — even when the average age of the worshippers was 11 years old!” she said.
“We are a little sad that neither Drew Phillips nor his family were able to be with us tonight,” she said. “Drew is participating in a special event for graduating seniors at Chowan University this evening and preparing to lead a mission team of students to Haiti, next week.”