Mrs. Virginia Law Shell - 1990 A Award Recipient
The May 1990 issue of the Good News magazine, describes Mrs. Virginia Law Shell as one of ten personalities of greatest influence within the United Methodist Church during the decade of the 80’s. But her compassionate and persuasive spirit has been a force for renewal in the United Methodist Church, not only for one decade but for several decades.
From the scrub oaks and sandy back roads of the panhandle of Florida, this ambitious coed knew God wanted her at Asbury College. During her freshmen year, the missionary zeal on campus gave her a vision of a world beyond the county seat town of Chipley. But the world of that day was at war, and her college years were postponed.
Returning to Asbury later, she soon understood God’s plan for a team ministry to the Belgian Congo with her college sweetheart. There, in the heart of Africa, in a place called Wembo Nyama, this young missionary family began what was to be a lifelong ministry.
Years later, the pages of her first book, Appointment Congo, told the story of her dreams for the mission, her love for her husband, and her compassion for an African people suddenly shattered a midst a tribal war. Only time with God and loving friends would heal and renew this mother and her three children. A sequel, As Far As I Can Step, was written to encourage believers to walk even as she had walked, one step at a time.
Then another door of ministry opened. She was appointed by the Board of Discipleship to director the Family Life Program of the Methodist Church. “Marriage Enrichment” weekends were soon offered to hurting people. Thousands o couples with fractured and broken marriages found relationships restored thanks to this Asburian’s sensitive spirit.
Mrs.Virginia Law Shell has given effective leadership in calling the United Methodist Church to return to its true heritage. The New York Times observed in 1988, that the “Good News” movement was responsible for the church’s conservative shift. We are told Mrs. Shell played a key role in shaping this successful evangelical strategy.
A missionary career to Zaire with the Board of Global Ministries. Marriage enrichment with the Board of Discipleship. Decisive changes at General Conference. The people called United Methodists are indebted to this Asburian for her convictions and effective leadership. Bristol Books recently published Why Not Glass House?, a practical guidebook for living. Glass Houses recounts those missionary years with husband Burleigh Law, an Asbury martyr, and it tells how the pain of hurt and loss were healed by a marriage to Don Shell and a new beginning. Glass Houses shows us how to laugh andcry with her three children—all Asburians serving as missionaries in Zaire, on a site not far from their father’s grave
In this centennial year, the Alumni Board of Directors chose to recognize this alumna, an associate member of the class of 1945, for her faithful and effective leadership in the church.