Addie Wilkins was born in 1933 in Gleason, TN, one of 10 children. She attended the Weakley County Training School, then Harris Stowe College. She took theology courses at Eden Seminary, St. Louis University, and was consecrated as a Lutheran deaconess in September 1989.
Before entering the deaconess formation process, Addie served in many ministries. While raising her five children alone (after a divorce), she worked for two congregations, led Bible classes, conducted family counseling, made hospital calls, directed a large VBS program, served as assistant supervisor of youth programs, assisted poor and low income people with menu planning and budgeting and helped establish the Lutheran Employment Project in St. Louis.
Addie also served on boards at Lutheran Family and Children Services, the Missouri District Board of Social ministry, was the secretary of the North St. Louis Zone, LWML, and many other boards and committees that served both the church and her community. Throughout this time, she lived in the Pruitt-Igoe housing complex. As she worked to move her family out of that crime-filled area, she continued to work and minister to the residents there through the All Nation Lutheran Church.
In 1988, Addie felt the call to become a deaconess and enrolled in the LDA program at Valparaiso University. She served her internship in St. Louis and after consecration, was called to be the Coordinator of Social Ministry and Outreach for the L.U.T.H.E.R. Plan of the Missouri District, a collaborative ministry of four congregations. In regards to this ministry, Addie wrote, “As I carry on my ministry in each congregation, I find people who don’t have enough income to meet their everyday needs for clothing, food, and utility costs…I struggle each day with the ills of society as I carry out my life for Christ, trying to bring comfort to many of those whom I come in contact with.” Addie shared that “one assurance that gives me support in this ministry is the love of a caring group of sister deaconesses.”
Addie used the words found in Matthew 25:35-39 as her guiding motto. She retired in 2003 and went back to volunteer to continue to do her ministry for another seven years. After her official retirement in 2010, her ministry had spanned forty-seven years of faithful service. She was “a friend to many, a mentor, a counselor, and a winner of souls for God.” In an article written about Addie, the author said, “If you go looking for this servant of God today, where will you find her? Certainly not kicking back at her desk. You’ll most likely see her visiting the sick and shut-in members, teaching Bible or confirmation class, or joining other members on an evangelism call.”
Addie died on February 17, 2013, after a brief illness. Her wisdom and passion for God’s people have left a lasting impression on our community and on all those she served.