[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Roberta M. Damon, a native of Oklahoma, is a daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother, Christian, former career missionary, certified family counselor, genuine listener, dynamic teacher, published poet, effective pulpiteer, conference facilitator, author, and one of the most caring persons to have ever walked this earth.
A product of the Great-Depression Era, she grew through life’s circumstances to become a person beyond measure, molded through sometimes challenging and painful experiences. She is a living monument to the power of God’s influence to a transformation that permits growth through adversity, strength through brokenness, and dreams becoming reality.
Born in Carnegie, Oklahoma, Roberta never saw her birth mother who died as a result of her birth. Her widowed father, with a son and daughter a few years older than Roberta, realized that he could not add raising an infant to his already overwhelming role of father and bread winner for his family. He entrusted Roberta to a family in their church to be raised by them. After her father remarried and they discovered that the new wife could not produce children of her own, Roberta’s father and step-mother decided to take Roberta into their home at age two.
Roberta did not learn about the foster mother until at age 58 while visiting in Carnegie with her older brother and sister after both her step-mother and father had died. Someone in the community told her about the foster mother. She visited the lady, who was then 90, and developed a meaningful relationship. Out of this experience, Roberta wrote a memoir entitled, A Voice Beyond Weeping. It is the story of her three mothers and deals with both the enmeshed and broken relationships found in her family of origin’s system.
When she was in the sixth grade, Roberta’s father, who served on Oklahoma’s Governor Robert Kerr’s staff, moved his family to Alexandria, Virginia to serve as Legislative Assistant when, in 1948, Kerr was elected to the U. S. Senate. She graduated from George Washington High School in Alexandria in 1952 and was the first female in the school’s history to be elected president of the senior class. She enrolled in Mars Hill College – at that time a junior college – located in Mars Hill, North Carolina. Following graduation, she enrolled in Oklahoma Baptist University, Shawnee, Oklahoma, graduating with a degree in English. She also did graduate study at the University of Maryland and at the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Ft. Worth, Texas from which she earned a Master of Religious Education degree and later a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Psychology and Counseling (1985).
In 1958, Roberta married William “Bill” Damon, whom she had met while they were seminary students. Bill served as minister on church staffs and Roberta taught pre-school methods for the Baptist conventions of Oklahoma and Texas. Roberta was also a curriculum writer for the Southern Baptist Sunday School Board (now Lifeway Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention).
In 1965, Bill and Roberta, long called to foreign missions, were appointed by the Southern Baptist Mission Board (now the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention) to serve in South Brazil; Roberta serving as a curriculum writer for the Brazilian Baptist Convention and a teacher at the Parana Baptist Theological Seminary. In the early1980s, Bill was assigned by the Foreign Mission Board to coordinate the “Mission to Brazil” project involving Texas Baptists and Brazilian Baptists. This was a major shift in their vocation, but it enabled Roberta to fulfill a dream by earning the Ph.D. degree and preparing for a “second-half” career in family counseling.
In 1984, Bill was assigned to the Foreign Mission Board’s home office in Richmond, Virginia. Roberta, a Licensed Professional Counselor in both Texas and Virginia, served as a Marriage and Family Therapist in private practice, as Minister of Counseling at Richmond’s First Baptist Church, and as a Staff Counselor at the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Roberta served as president of the National Alumni Association of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and as president of the Southern Baptist Association of Counseling and Family Ministry (1993-94). She has participated in various partnership mission projects in Brazil, Taiwan, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Benin and Slovakia. She has also been called upon by various community groups to assist in crisis intervention and crisis counseling following catastrophic situations.
A popular speaker for banquets, retreats, women’s groups, and marriage enrichment events, Roberta has led Mission studies, Seminars on Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, Stress Management, Grief, Human Sexuality, Divorce Recovery, Relationship Issues, Early Childhood Seminars, and Parenting Issues.
A prolific writer, Roberta has published articles in Church Nursery Guide, Living with Children, O Pequeno Missionario, Revista de Juniores, and Singles magazine.
Books authored by Roberta include:
- A Measure of Success, (Foreign Mission Study)1987
- Relationship Skills, (Women’s Missionary Union) 1993
- Life Cycles, (Poetry) 1993
- A Voice Beyond Weeping, (Greystone Press: The story of my three mothers) 2002
- Theirs is the Kingdom, (Greystone Press: A fictionalized account of the early church in Rome) 2004
- Dear Mrs. Noah: Letters to Unnamed Women of the Bible, (CrossLinkPub) to be released in 2017
Roberta was a charter member of the Ministering to Ministers Foundation (MTM) board of trustees and since its inception in 1993 has assisted with the Healthy Transitions Wellness Retreats for Ministers and Spouses – designed for ministers and spouses who are experiencing major conflict in their congregations or who have been forced out of their ministry position. She has led sessions on “Increasing Self-awareness through Personality Inventories,” “Applying Emotional Intelligence,” and/or has served as the Clinician for more than 25 retreats in Michigan, New York, Virginia, and Wisconsin. In addition, she has provided pro bono therapy sessions for scores of participants as a follow up to their retreat experience. Though small in stature, Roberta’s influence is giant size.
Roberta and Bill are the parents of two adult sons and three grandchildren. They live in Chester, Virginia. Roberta’s hobbies include reading, writing, piano, traveling, gardening, walking, exploring new places and ideas, helping people, and perhaps most of all, grand parenting.
It is with great joy and appreciation that the MTM Campbell-Wallace Award is presented to Roberta Damon for her unselfish service to ministers and spouses through the MTM ministry.
Charles H. Chandler, Executive Director[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]