Missionary Annie Willis Bookman-Spigner
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“And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.” - Rev. 14:13.
Her Early Life
The serene, silent beauty of a holy life is the most powerful influence in this world. For, a holy life is a voice that speaks even when the tongue is silent. It has love for its essence, humility for its clothing, the good of others as its employment, and the honor of God as its end. Missionary Annie Willis Bookman-Spigner exemplified the dignity and divine significance of a holy life. A native of Quitman in Wood County, Texas, Annie Willis entered this life, April 1,1928. She was the 8th of 9 children born to Isiah "Tobe" Willis and Mattie Clark "Bigg" Willis. She was a graduate of the W.B. Clark Colored School System of Quitman, TX. She later attended Jarvis Christian College-Hawkins, TX. Throughout her life, she distinguished herself as a woman of class and great character; whose life and works are indelibly stamped in the archives of our memories.
Her Family Life
From June 6, 1947 to March 3,1982 (35 years) she was married to her childhood sweetheart, the late Supt. Weldon B.L. Bookman. They were married for less than 1 year when she gave her heart to God on a Monday night. Imbued with the gift of faith, fasting and prayer, she gave definition to the title, “Prayer Warrior" and wholeheartedly lived her life as a faithful servant of God. Prayer was her ministry and calling. She prayed in homes, churches, hospitals, etc. and was not afraid to declare what thus saith the Lord. Supt. Bookman and Missionary Bookman built a home where prayer was paramount and the principles of holiness were taught and lived out. She cherished her role as wife and mother. In November 1963, they were blessed with their oldest daughter, Quence Bookman Miller (Charles), with whom she enjoyed spending time talking about everything. In December 1966, they were blessed with their youngest daughter, Veleshia "Fee" Bookman, who cherishes the many prayers her mom prayed with her and for her. In 1994, she was blessed with her only granddaughter, Kimberly Miller. After the death of Supt. Bookman, Quence and Veleshia watched their mom continue to strive as a strong independent woman of God. She was the matriarch of her family, always fair yet firm, who was humble and sweet-spirited and could often be very comical.
From September 1984 to December 21, 1998 (14years) she was married to Deacon Joe L. Spigner. They lived in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and continued to serve faithfully in ministry.
With a burden for the lost and a burning compassion to see all souls delivered from the bondage of sin, her deep-seated compassion for others was manifested even in her work. Mother Bookman possessed outward; as well as, inward beauty and worked diligently that women would know and understand the true meaning of beauty. While laboring in the ministry, she completed Coleman's Beauty College in Dallas, Texas and worked for many years as an outstanding Beautician, making beautiful the natural person, while praying day and night asking God to make beautiful their soul. She later completed the Instructor's course in Cosmetology at Madam Sweatt Beauty College in Tyler, Texas.
Her Christian Life
In April of 1950, Supt. Bookman and Missionary Bookman's ministry carried them to Mt. Olive COGIC (Winnsboro, Texas) with only 1 member and no place to worship. However, through the help of the Lord, the church was blessed with many souls and a new building was erected for worship before the end of that year.
In June of 1954, their ministry carried them to Mt. Vernon, Texas, to another green field with no building and no members. This time, they began to worship under a brush arbor, praying and fasting for God’s blessings. Before the end of 1954, the Lord not only saved many souls, but also blessed to erect the Saints a worship center. That building stood until the late 1990’s. Renamed Bookman Temple COGIC.
In September of 1954, she attended what was then called the Marshall District Convocation in Texarkana, Texas. Not knowing what God’s plan awaited her, she was appointed District Secretary of the Women’s Department. This allowed more work in the ministry for this young woman of God, and it brought her so much joy. Later, she was appointed Assistant District Supervisor under Mother Julia Reeves, and she served in this capacity for many years while continuing to follow her husband in God's plan. In 1961, Mother Reeves resigned and Sis. Bookman-Spigner was appointed District Supervisor. She was the youngest ever at that time, and in this capacity, she served for over 26 years. The Marshall District extended from Texarkana, Texas to Louisiana, and had over 40 churches. Later as the district grew, it was divided, and she became the Longview District Supervisor. It was a challenge because as she spread her wings, so did her husband. What a joy it was to her, to serve the Lord.
In the Spring of 1957, their ministry carried them to Linden COGIC (Linden, Texas). Same as before; no members, but this time they had a tiny storefront to worship in. Within the year, membership had grown and they had a beautiful new church building to worship in. That building is still being used today.
June 1957, the Lord called them to Mt. Pleasant, Texas. There, the Lord blessed the 1st COGIC church not only to grow, but to become a beacon of hope for the saints in the area. The church just celebrated their 100th Anniversary, which Sis. Bookman-Spigner attended.
In the Fall of 1958, after receiving a call from Bishop S.D. Lee, God called them to Smith Temple COGIC (Tyler, Texas) where she remained First Lady until March 3, 1982, when God called her best friend, Rev. Bookman, home. In the 24 years they were at Smith Temple COGIC, God blessed the church to grow beyond measure, and 2 new church buildings were built before Rev. Bookman’s passing. Many ministries were born there. She was appointed to the Chairmanship of District Supervisors by the late Mother Emma F. Barron and enjoyed making sure various leaders visiting the state were comfortable and cared for.
The year 1967 brought a new trend to their ministry, Radio, and with-it great challenge and opportunity to reach more people for God. This is the one time she felt that her strength was too small, but never to walk away from a challenge, she yielded to Gods will and accepted the position of Mistress of Ceremony for the Smith Temple Outreach Broadcast. She served in this position for 14 years as the MC.
After the death of Rev. Bookman, years later she married Deacon Joe L. Spigner, and moved to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma where she returned to teaching the youth as an assistant Kindergarten teacher at Gatewood Elementary until she retired. She remained a faithful member of Victory Temple COGIC under Bishop Malcolm Coby where she proclaimed the Goodness of God, until her death. Her life was that of a virtuous woman of God. "Her price is far above rubies", Prov. 31:10.
When our loved ones meet with sunset on this horizon and sunrise on the other shore, the greatest comfort is the memory of their work. For her faithfulness and dedication God elevated Missionary Bookman be with Him, December 21, 2020. We rejoice in knowing that her death is not the last sleep, but the last and final awakening. She leaves a legacy of wisdom, insight and the understanding of God that enabled her to live an exemplary life before her family and those who knew her. She demonstrated that one should know the way, go the way and show the way with prayer and fasting. Preceding her in death: Both parents; Brothers: Spencer Willis, Joe (Callie) Willis; Sisters: Mattie (Cleburn) Jones, Ollie V (Edward) Smith, Lover (Jesse) Pipkin, Mary (Fred) Smith, Isadora (Adlouis) Walker. She leaves to rejoice in her life of servant hood: Daughters: Quence (Charles) Miller and Veleshia Bookman; Granddaughter: Kimberly Miller; Brother: Dr. George Willis; one special niece and friend Dr, Dorscine Littles and a host of nieces and nephews, relatives and friends.