In recognition of the contributions and global impact of African American missionaries throughout our history during Black History Month, IM wishes to honor ABFMS, Africa alumna Mildred Archie who passed away.
Mildred Archie, American Baptist Foreign Mission Society (ABFMS) alumna, passed away at the age of 96 on February 11, 2021, in Springfield, Ohio. She was born on July 23, 1924, in Springfield, Ohio. Her parents had relocated from Alabama.
Mildred’s parents took her to St. John Missionary Baptist Church when she was very young and quite fidgety. In 1943, Mildred was baptized and officially became a member of St. John Missionary Baptist Church. Mildred attended local schools and remembered being the only “colored” in some of the early classes. After graduation from high school, she worked at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base while taking classes at Wittenberg University at night, until she went to work for the Foreign Service. Her tours of duty with the Foreign Service included Canada, Iceland, Sweden, Vietnam, Tunisia, Nigeria, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Honduras, Panama, and Colombia.
Mildred continued taking classes when possible. Upon graduation in 1990, with a degree in sociology, she also received the honor of having one of the longest tenures from start to finish, from Wittenberg University. It was during her time with the Foreign Service that she found she liked meeting new and different people and had a real affinity for people who are less fortunate than she was. She liked to persuade them to help themselves to improve their lot. Wherever Mildred was living she visited churches in the area. When she was in Iceland, she and a partner established and directed a Sunday school for English-speaking children. Mildred retired from the Foreign Service in early 1984.
Mildred received the call to be a missionary after she retired from the Foreign Service. Although she had been very involved in church work all of her life, Mildred likened herself to Paul. Because she was older, did not preach, sing or evangelize, it seemed that she was an unlikely candidate to be a missionary. “I even wondered if God had made a mistake,” she said, “but, looking back, I realize the call came when God thought I was ready.”
In September 1990, Mildred was appointed by the American Baptist Foreign Mission Society (ABFMS) to serve in South Africa. She became the first American Baptist to serve in South Africa. It didn’t take long for Mildred to see the more subtle implication of apartheid practices when she discovered that South African Baptists assumed that “missionary” was a label applied to whites only. Mildred’s presence demonstrated that in God’s kingdom there is no black and white, but all are one in Christ Jesus.
Mildred was a gifted administrator and worked with the Baptist Convention of Southern Africa, assisting in setting up and maintaining an efficient administrative office and training office workers. She also was an ambassador for International Ministries (aka ABFMS), participating in convention churches and forging closer ties between American and South African Baptists. After serving in South Africa for five years, Mildred continued her work in Zambia for two years, and in Ghana for four years. While in Ghana, in the small church she attended, she was involved in the Sunday school work, evangelism and speaking. She was also associated with the Help-Age group, working to help the aged in rural areas.
Mildred went on to serve at the All-Africa Baptist Fellowship (AABF), a regional branch of the Baptist World Alliance by assisting the General Secretary. Being a wonderful organizer and trainer, Mildred did Sunday school teacher’s training, organized many conferences, and coordinated the visits of various personnel from around Africa and abroad. She served in Angola and Ghana and visited many of the countries in Africa, including Togo, Liberia, and Ivory Coast. Mildred was a great communicator and provided a close connection for American Baptist Churches, USA, with Baptists throughout Africa.
When Mildred returned to live in Springfield, Ohio, she jumped right in at St. John Missionary Baptist Church and helped wherever she could. She also worked with ABC/Ohio on mission support and served on the Dayton Baptist Regional Executive Board and with the Women’s Ministry.
“Having faith in the Lord and knowing He was with me made me free to do his work. With this freedom, I have always felt the Lord wanted me to do different things and I have been led down pathways others may fear to trod,” Mildred wrote in her ABFMS application.
Mildred is survived by her cousins: G. Louise Wilson, Lisa C. Womack, Teresa Boddie and her husband, Carlton, and Michael Wilson. She is also survived by Ann Whaly, whom she sponsored and fostered, as well as many other extended family members and friends.
There was an intimate in-person Memorial Service held for Mildred on February 24, 2021, at St. John Missionary Baptist Church, Springfield, Ohio 45506.