Back Creely Wilson: The Can-Do Woman
October 12th, 2012
This Sunday, October 14, from 1:30-3:30 p.m. in the Parlor, Christian Women's Job Corp will honor Creely Wilson for her 15 years of service to the ministry and introduce the Creely Wilson Society.
Creely is founder of CWJC in Middle Tennessee and wife of Brentwood Baptist's first pastor, the late Bill Wilson Sr.
Anne Calton, with CWJC, said, "Creely was on the 2007 Planning Team for the Williamson County Satellite where she continues to serve as a Bible Study teacher. Many of those involved as volunteers today were introduced to CWJC through Creely."
The following is a story written by Rene Holt to commemorate Creely's history with CWJC called, "Creely Wilson: Can-Do Woman," recently published in LifeWay's Mature Living magazine.
"You can do that."
When God whispered those words to Creely Wilson in 1995, she immediately responded, “I can do that!”
Creely was in North Carolina to learn about a new WMU pilot program called Christian Women’s Job Corps, a biblically-based initiative to break the cycle of poverty by offering education and job training. Hearing God’s message, she resolved to bring CWJC to Nashville.
Creely’s immediate and enthusiastic acceptance of God’s call was formed through a lifetime of listening and responding to God. Growing up in Houston, Mississippi, her mother faithfully immersed her in church life, where she developed her dual passions for missions and music.
“My church was instrumental in my choice to live a missions lifestyle,” she says. “My motto is ‘What can you say yes to?’”
Creely believed she would either be a missionary in China or marry a preacher. “I did both!” she now exclaims.
Indeed, she married Dr. Bill Wilson, a young pastor who shared her passion for missions. In 1970, the Wilsons, with their three children, moved to Tennessee, where Bill served as the founding pastor of Brentwood Baptist Church.
They served the growing church together for 20 years, until their involvement in local and international missions led to Bill’s move to serve as director of missions for the Tennessee Baptist Convention. Upon his retirement, the Wilsons headed up the Missions Ministry at Brentwood Baptist.
At an age when many women choose to slow down, Creely was just getting started. When she learned about the success of CWJC, she realized it offered the vital next step to the inner city women’s ministry where she served.
The help being offered only relieved the women’s immediate concerns, but their situations never altered, and the cycle of poverty continued. The real issues—the need for rehabilitation, education, and job skills—had not been addressed. Most importantly, the women desperately needed the life-altering change that only Christ can bring.
The goals of Christian Women’s Job Corps dovetailed perfectly with the ongoing ministry.
Visions don’t become reality without hard work. Returning to Nashville, Creely got busy, recruiting 10 volunteers to form an advisory council. She led the way in speaking to churches, recruiting support, and soliciting funds.
Creely is quick to deflect credit from herself, insisting she worked with amazing and dedicated women—and she did. But those women would respond that her vision and her encouragement set the pace and paved the way.
In October 1997, Christian Women’s Job Corps opened its doors at Lockland Baptist Church in East Nashville. The 10 women who made up the first class received invaluable help in achieving their GED diplomas and learning computer skills. They grew spiritually through Bible studies and faithful mentoring by volunteers.
In the following 15 years, CWJC moved to a larger location, expanded to three locations, and opened a program for men. To date, over 3,000 individuals have been blessed with new confidence, hope and faith.
As CWJC became established under the direction of Executive Director Becky Sumrall, Creely extended her vision to take CWJC to the entire state. Today there are 22 CWJC locations across Tennessee.
Now a vibrant and youthful 80 years old, Creely hasn’t slowed down much. She didn’t allow the Bill’s death in 2006 to curtail her work; she stays involved with the CWJC site near her home in Franklin.
She also participates in several musical groups, and is currently learning to play a dulcimer. Her three children, nine grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren provide love, support, and an abundance of motherly/grandmotherly pride.
Becky Sumrall summarizes the profound influence her friend has on the women with whom she has worked: “Creely has served as a 'Titus Woman,' fulfilling the call from Scripture for older women. She has demonstrated how to live as a godly woman, energized by God’s grace and God’s call on her life. As she invited me to serve alongside her, she coached, modeled, and encouraged me to use my spiritual gifts and talents in ministry. I sense a kindred spirit with Creely as we both seek to serve the Lord as ministers among women who are struggling to break the cycle of poverty.”
Creely would probably make a more humble statement. She would simply say, “The Lord has been faithful.”