Baptist Leaders to Receive Annual Truett Awards at Baylor Commencement

  • News Photo 4084
    Joy Fenner
  • News Photo 4082
    Bill Sherman
May 4, 2007

by Judy Prather, Baylor Alumni Association, (254) 710-6431

The Baylor Alumni Association will honor Joy Fenner of Garland, Texas, and Dr. Bill Sherman of Fairview, Tenn., with the George W. Truett Distinguished Church Service Award, during Baylor University's morning and afternoon commencement exercises on May 12 at the Ferrell Center.

The association presents the award each spring to individuals who exemplify the life and career of George W. Truett and reflect the meaning of Baylor's motto, "Pro Ecclesia, Pro Texana." A graduate of Baylor in 1897, Truett went on to pastor the largest Baptist congregation of his era and hold several prestigious positions in Baptist organizing bodies. During his nearly 50-year ministry at First Baptist Church of Dallas, Truett also served as president of both the Southern Baptist Convention and the Baptist World Alliance.

Sherman will receive the honor at the 9:30 a.m. commencement ceremony, while Fenner will be honored at the 2 p.m. ceremony.

A 1954 Baylor graduate, Sherman later earned another bachelor's degree and his doctorate in theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

During his career he has led six congregations from Texas to Tennessee and is currently pastor of First Baptist Church of Fairview, Tenn. In addition, he has been president of the Tennessee Baptist Convention and a trustee of Belmont University, and he has served on the boards of the Southern Baptist Home Mission Board, Christian Life Commission and Southern Baptist Foundation.

Sherman also has worked abroad with volunteer missions to many countries including Jamaica, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Poland, Russia, Thailand and Malaysia. During his 30 years as pastor of Woodmont Baptist Church in Nashville, Sherman filled more than 900 missions assignments in Bold Mission Thrust.

Sherman and his wife, Veta Cole Sherman, a 1953 Baylor graduate, have three children and six grandchildren.

Fenner served as executive director of Woman's Missionary Union of Texas for two decades. She is currently first vice president of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, having served as second vice president in 2001.

Born in Avinger, Texas, Fenner attended East Texas Baptist College in Marshall. In the 1960s she served as director of the Girls Auxiliary of Woman's Missionary Union of Texas, before leaving the United States to work in Fukuoka, Japan, as a missionary with the Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board.

Her 13 years there as a missionary led to her continuing efforts in the mission field. Today she serves on several mission boards including the Woman's Missionary Union Foundation, Healing Hands Ministry of Dallas and Seinan Gakuin 4-L Foundation.

At Baylor she is a member of the Board of Advocates for the university's School of Social Work and was made an honorary alumnus of the George W. Truett Theological Seminary in 2001.

Additionally, Fenner has published numerous articles and features stories in Convention Press's "Until It Rings." She and her husband, Charlie W. Fenner, celebrated their 40th anniversary last year.

For more information about alumni awards, contact the Baylor Alumni Association at (254) 710-1121 or go to

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