This I Believe

Mills, Thelma
1953-11-11

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Thelma Mills desribes her philosophy of social service, as well as her beliefs in the personality of Jesus Christ, God's eternal purpose for the universe, and her own role in living out that purpose by serving others.

Subjects
Altruism
Christianity
Purpose
Meaning (Philosophy)
Jesus Christ
New York (N.Y.)
United States
YWCA
Permanent URL
http://hdl.handle.net/10427/75822
ID: tufts:MS025.006.007.00007.00001
To Cite: DCA Citation Guide
Usage: Detailed Rights
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And now, This I Believe. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. Thelma Mills is the Executive Director of the YWCA of New York City. She has taught in schools from the state of Washington to Tianjin[?], China. For eight years, she was the Dean of Women at Whitman College, and for twelve years, was Director of Student Affairs for Women at the University of Missouri. Here now is Thelma Mills.
As an undergraduate at Willamette University, an astronomy professor was a real favorite at daily chapel exercises with his pithy, one-minute talks. These talks helped me to determine more clearly my own personal philosophy. One proved to be a great influence in directing the course of my
life. Previously I had been chiefly guided by my mother's conscience and what was expected of me because of the family reputation in the church and the small college town in which we were reared. But when I went away to college, I realized that I must begin making decisions for myself.
Questions began to arise in discussions in my social science courses. Did I want to spend my life working for others, identifying myself with their needs? Or did I want to work with others so that they in turn need not rebel against direction but could continuously develop themselves to their greatest capacities? Did I believe that I was my brother's keeper, or was it more essential that I assist my brother to become a better keeper of himself--to obtain a right understanding of matters so that he
could be self-directed and motivated?
At this point of questioning, I heard my professor give one of his chapel talks, more important and determining than any other. His message was: For every act there is a consequence. This phrase coincided with one I had recently found in my readings in English history, Cromwell's exhortation encouraging his men to valor: "He who ceaseth to be better, ceaseth to be good." These two ideas gave me a new impetus toward determining my own way of life.
Two years after graduation, while teaching in a middle school for boys in North China, I was pushed for a statement of my belief in the Christian way of life. After speaking through a youthful interpreter to
a vesper service attended by boys of our school--some of whom were Mohammedans, Buddhists, and Taoists--an inquiry came: Why are you a Christian? I found myself struggling for a simple statement of belief that would be credible to them. I am a Christian because I believe in the personality of Jesus Christ. He personifies the moral law and He reveals the love of God for all men. I can believe in Him because He was a historical fact, and human nature is revealed through him. Because of Jesus Christ, in whom I believe, I believe also in God's eternal purpose for the universe.
It has been my responsibility continuously to seek to know more of His purpose and to live by it. I do believe that God's purpose can only be realized through individuals. Hence, my deepest conviction is
that I must live in my relationship with others so that we may have the fullest opportunity to serve Him. I do believe in the right of the individual to make an honest decision for himself when he has had the facts, and to act accordingly whatever the consequences. Thus I recognize that for everything I have been given, as personal endowment and ability, I have a responsibility to use, so that not only those with whom I come in contact but their growing sphere of influence may profit, rather than suffer or default, because of my way of life.
Those were the beliefs of Thelma Mills, president of the American College Personnel Association.