Gertrude Hale
Associational Missionary
in Johnson & Carter Counties
by Bob Polk

Gertrude Hale was born in rural Hamblen County, East Tennessee, May 30, 1910. She grew up in very limited circumstances. Her father and mother were devout Christians. At an early age, she became a Christian and attended her church faithfully. She became convinced that God had called her to be a missionary. Her family was not financially able to send her to school, so she worked her way through high school, college and seminary.

After finishing Carson-Newman College, she was requested by the Woman's Missionary Union of Watauga Association to come to Johnson and Carter Counties to serve as a field worker - the title given to a person who worked in local mission work. After a brief time she left to attend seminary. She had done such an impressive job the people remembered her. Soon after she finished seminary, the churches of Watauga Association were looking for an associational missionary. They contacted Miss Gertrude who responded feeling that this was God's will for her life.

Miss Gertrude began a ministry in the mountains that was to continue for thirty-five years. Her goal was to spread the gospel and to help build strong churches. In the early years, she did not have a car, so she rode busses that transported workers to the plants in Elizabethton. Sometimes a pastor or friend would provide transportation. She would stay with church families while she conducted Vacation Bible School, training schools and mission studies.

The work of the association changed across the years, but she was able to adapt and assume changing responsibilities. She became superintendent of missions and director of missions. However, she was always known among the people of the churches as our association missionary. In her later years she was honored by the Southern Baptist Home Mission Board, the Tennessee Baptist Convention, and Carson-Newman College. She died on Easter Sunday, 1984.

In 1993, Watauga Baptists were forming a social ministry to meet the needs of people in Johnson and Carter Counties. They needed a name for the important work. Gertrude Hale had been remembered as one with a love and concern for all people and especially people of limited means. It would be one way of honoring her memory; therefore, they named the ministry HALE COMMUNITY MINISTRIES.

Copies of the book My Dear Ones: The Story of Miss Gertrude Hale, Mountain Missionary are available for purchase at the Watauga Baptist Association office (423-543-1451) or