‘Mary’s House’ dream becomes reality for Southwestern’s World Missions Center, Texas WMU


At the corner of Stanley Avenue and West Broadus Street on the campus of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, a dream almost four years in the making became a reality Jan. 13 when “Mary’s House,” a partnership between the seminary’s World Missions Center (WMC) and the Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) of Texas, opened to the first missionaries-in-residence serving with the International Mission Board (IMB).

“I’m so grateful that in Texas these women are dreaming dreams about a place like this where missionaries can not only have sanctuary, but where this place can be a sanctuary for students who will have exposure to normal missionaries, not clinicians who talk about strategies and methodologies” but missionaries who are raising families on the field while serving, said Ian Buntain, director of the WMC and associate professor of missions in the Roy J. Fish School of Evangelism and Missions.

Following his remarks and a prayer of dedication by John D. Massey, dean of the Fish School, Buntain and Massey joined Matt Queen, interim provost at Southwestern Seminary, Tamiko Jones, executive director-treasurer of WMU of Texas, Earl Ann Bumpus, president of WMU of Texas, Beth Campbell, project manager for the Mary Hill Davis Offering, and Teri Ussery, missional lifestyle strategist for adults for WMU of Texas, to cut the ribbon and welcome one of two families present who will be the first occupants of the home.

In a joint effort of the World Missions Center at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Woman’s Missionary Union of Texas, Mary’s House opened on the Southwestern campus on Jan. 13. The home will allow International Mission Board (IMB) missionaries a home while on stateside assignment.


Named after the late Mary Hill Davis, who served as president of WMU of Texas for 25 years beginning in 1906, the home was the idea of the late Brent Ray, a former IMB missionary in South America who died unexpectedly in August 2020 while serving as WMC director and associate professor of missions.

Jones said in early 2019 Ray and Massey visited her in her office to share the vision of the house. She explained the vision and the naming of the home after Mary Hill Davis came from Ray. With the assistance of the architectural team of the Baptist General Convention of Texas (BGCT), Jones said they began “dreaming about this.”

However, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, the project was delayed, but there was an unexpected blessing, Jones said.

Thomas and Holly Siberhagen, IMB missionaries who serve in Belgium, will occupy one of two apartments in Mary’s House while they are on stateside assignment.


“That particular year we didn’t use all of our operating budget and so that money then became the money to invest in Mary’s House,” Jones explained. “So COVID was a lot of bad things, but it allowed us to move forward with this project. And so, here we are.”

It was “in the spirit of partnership with the Texas WMU and with the International Mission Board and Southwestern that made all of this possible,” said Massey, who also serves as associate professor of missions and the Charles F. Stanley Chair for the Advancement of Global Christianity.

The house includes two fully furnished apartments, each on a separate floor, that have fresh paint, new carpeting and appliances, and other items to make the space comfortable. Massey said over a year ago Spivey Construction began the demolition and construction of the building which used to house the library of the late E. Earl Ellis, a research professor of theology emeritus who passed away in 2010. When Ellis’s library was moved to A. Webb Roberts Library, the house sat vacant.

The fully furnished apartments, which include new carpeting, paint, and appliances, were made possible by WMU of Texas funds that were not used due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


Thomas and Holley Sieberhagen, IMB missionaries who serve in Belgium with their two children, will occupy one of the new apartments. The Sieberhagens, who serve among the French-speaking people in Belgium, are church-planting missionaries who run an art center in the country. Thomas is the son of Dean Sieberhagen, associate professor of Islamic studies, Vernon D. and Jeannette Davidson Chair of Missions, and director of the Islamic Studies Program at Southwestern.

“When you’re on stateside [assignment], you don’t just need time to kind of detox and rest from a busy term the year is coming to, you also need a place where you can really recharge and spiritually get ready for the coming term and to go back,” said Thomas, a 2017 Master of Divinity graduate of Southwestern. “Having a place like this is just the perfect place to be able to do both those things.”

Jones said the project is important to WMU of Texas because “if nothing else, we are supportive of our missionaries.” She said missionaries who are returning for stateside assignment who need housing is “a major thing.”

“We love our missionaries, because they are brave, they are courageous and when they return stateside, we want to love on them, right?” Jones concluded. “We want to care for them so that whenever God does send them back out, or while they’re just serving here, they feel that love and they’re able to then pour that back out to continue to do what He’s called them to do. So, we’re excited to be a part of this.”

More information about Southwestern Seminary’s missionary-in-residence program can be found here.