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Human trafficking targeted by WMU ministry

September 3 2014 by Woman’s Missionary Union/Baptist Press

The Woman’s Missionary Union’s WorldCrafts ministry has launched the Support Freedom campaign to help deliver women from human trafficking and sexual exploitation, and has partnered with seven new people groups to expand its craft items for sale.

Each year, by force, fraud, or coercion, millions of people find themselves trapped in bonded labor and sexual exploitation. WorldCrafts artisan groups are working to end these evils by providing a sustainable income to people in poverty.

When earning a living wage, parents are less likely to be seduced by a sex trafficker’s promises, and young women hoping for a better life are less likely to fall prey to criminals seeking to use and abuse the most vulnerable, said WorldCrafts director Andrea Mullins.


Light of Hope Learning Center in Bangladesh helps prevent girls from low-income families from becoming trapped in lives of sex trafficking and exploitation. Crafts created at the center are available for purchase through the Women’s Missionary Union’s WorldCrafts ministry.

“While it can seem difficult to find an entry point in the fight against human trafficking, it is important that we keep working in every manner possible,” Mullins said. “WorldCrafts provides quality products created by people around the world attempting to escape poverty. Through our Support Freedom initiative, we are specifically working to aid women who have been rescued from trafficking and the organizations that work to rescue them. Purchasing gifts and goods from WorldCrafts is another great inroad to combating this exploitation of millions of women and children.”

WorldCrafts has partnered with seven new impoverished artisan groups to offer more than 80 new products this year, included among more than 200 products featured in the fall/winter catalog released Aug. 1, said Emily Swader, WorldCrafts representative.

“Adding new WorldCrafts products is so exciting when you know each one represents lives changed by the opportunity to earn an income with dignity and to hear the offer of everlasting life,” Swader said.

New artisan groups include the Anadoule in Turkey, which provides opportunities for impoverished women to learn skills in handmade cultural crafts; Inle Clay in Myanmar, teaching artisans to make clay nativities to earn money for health care and other needs, and Kenya Vision, employing Maasai women who make traditional crafts from seed beads. The Maasai women are in arranged marriages performed when they were between ages 10 and 14, and have three to five children each. Their wages are used to cover school fees, food and medical care.

Other new artisan groups are Light of Hope Learning Center in Bangladesh, a day shelter educating girls and training them in life skills, health care and morality based on their relationship to God; Wandee in Thailand, ministering to women who’ve left the sex industry; White Rainbow Project in India, ministering to women shunned and exploited there because they are widows; and Tabitha Ministries in Guatemala.

WMU suggests several avenues of involvement through the Support Freedom campaign. Among them, visiting the website WorldCrafts.org/SupportFreedom.asp for stories on artisan groups tackling spiritual, emotional and physical problems at a grassroots level. Also available on the site is a prayer guide to motivate prayer for artisan groups.

Purchasing items made by artisan groups highlighted in the Support Freedom campaign at WorldCrafts financially supports the fight against sex trafficking. Other areas of support include hosting a “support freedom party” to tell your church, friends and family about WorldCrafts, making financial donations to the Jackson/Reese Endowment for WorldCrafts to engage new artisan groups, and giving to the Hayes Endowment.

Free WorldCrafts catalogs are available at 1-800-968-7301 and downloadable at WorldCrafts.org.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Compiled by Baptist Press general assignment writer/editor Diana Chandler, with reporting by Emily Swader of WMU.)

9/3/2014 10:26:26 AM by Woman’s Missionary Union/Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Celebration, challenge mark WMU report

June 13 2014 by Julie Walters, Baptist Press

Celebrating historic milestones and the highest offering ever for international missions was the focus of national Woman’s Missionary Union’s (WMU) report to the Southern Baptist Convention.

Wanda Lee, WMU’s executive director/treasurer, and Debby Akerman, national president, said WMU wrapped up a yearlong celebration of their 125th anniversary at this year’s missions celebration, June 8–9, complete with historic tours in the area.


Photo by Paul W. Lee
Wanda Lee, executive director and treasurer of the Woman’s Missionary Union, gives a report during the closing session of the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting June 11 at the Baltimore Convention Center. Debby Akerman, president of the WMU, looks on.

Days prior to the gathering, 100 people toured sites in Virginia significant to Lottie Moon and her legacy as a pioneer missionary to China, and on June 9 some 600 people toured sites around Baltimore where Annie Armstrong lived and worked as the first leader for WMU, which was founded in 1888.

On June 8, WMU in conjunction with the International Mission Board and the North American Mission Board sponsored the first joint commissioning service at a national event in 25 years, encompassing more than 100 new missionaries.

“It is a privilege to work with the two mission boards to inspire and challenge churches to share the gospel with a waiting world,” Lee said. “Will you join us? The world is truly in desperate need of the gospel and we have it in our hands.”

WMU also celebrated and thanked Southern Baptists for the largest amount ever given to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions, more than $154 million in 2013.

“When the women organized as WMU in 1888 and accepted the challenge of raising funds for a church in Cuba and for women to help Lottie Moon in China,” Akerman said, “I know they never dreamed an offering of this size would be the result many years later. And yet, because they were faithful in their day, we have the opportunity to continue their legacy today in our giving.”

Lee reported that during the WMU missions celebration on Monday, Akerman of Myrtle Beach, S.C., was re-elected to a fifth and final term as president of national WMU, and Linda Cooper of Bowling Green, Ky., was elected as recording secretary. Cooper follows Rosalie Hunt of Guntersville, Ala., a retired international missionary who served as recording secretary the past five years.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Julie Walters is the corporate communications team leader for WMU (Woman’s Missionary Union), based in Birmingham, Ala.)

6/13/2014 10:36:17 AM by Julie Walters, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

WMU sees Annie Armstrong’s Baltimore

June 11 2014 by Shannon Baker, BCMD/Baptist Press

Some 600 Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) members toured five Baltimore sites related to WMU legend Annie Armstrong during the June 8 session of the WMU Annual Meeting and Missions Celebration.
Armstrong is a Baltimore native who served as WMU’s first corresponding secretary (akin to today’s executive director) and the namesake for the annual Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions with the North American Mission Board.

Year after year, Armstrong came up with new ways to stir up missions efforts, to get missions information out to the churches and to raise prayer support and money for missions.

Tour participants viewed where Armstrong first lived at the corner of Pratt and Calvert Street, over a tobacco shop owned by her father (now where the Gallery at Harbor Place is located). They viewed the site from Federal Hill Park where WMU members prayed over the city and its Inner Harbor.


Photo by Paul W. Lee
Hundreds of members of the Woman’s Missionary Union boarded buses June 9 for a Tour of Annie Armstrong’s Baltimore. The tour included the first WMU headquarters, Annie’s homechurch where she attended and taught an infants class and her gravesite. The tour was sponsored by the WMU as part of their annual missions celebration and annual meeting held prior to the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting.

Tour participants rode by the site where the first national WMU headquarters was located on East Fayette Street. This was the Maryland Baptist Mission Rooms, which served as a missionary library and reading room. Later it served as the location of the Southern Baptist Convention’s missionary literature department until the work was placed with the Sunday School Board (now LifeWay Christian Resources) in the early 1900s.

Tour participants also passed by Armstrong’s home church, Eutaw Place Baptist Church, which is now City Temple Baptist Church. Eutaw Place was started by Seventh Baptist Church (where the Shrine of St. Jude now stands), where Armstrong was baptized at the age of 20. Armstrong attended Eutaw Place from 1871, when it was formed, until her death in 1938. She taught the infants class there and led a mothers’ club for underprivileged women. Her last home was behind the current Cecil Apartments.

The group also visited the gravesite of Armstrong and other family members at Greenmount Cemetery. Intentionally stark at her request, Armstrong’s grave marker reads: “Annie Walker Armstrong, daughter of James D. and Mary E. Armstrong. Born July 11, 1850 - Died December 20, 1938. She hath done what she could. The Lord knoweth them that are His.”

A commemorative plaque later placed during her centennial year by the WMU of Maryland and national WMU “in appreciation of Annie W. Armstrong’s leadership in world missions” details Armstrong’s many positions in ministry as well as her famous rally cry, “Go Forward.”

Participants then visited one of three church sites where they celebrated the 125th anniversary of WMU with cookies made from recipes from Armstrong and fellow missionary Lottie Moon:
  • Woodbrook Baptist Church (formerly Eutaw Place Baptist Church). The church’s Eutaw Place Room contains Miss Annie’s antique secretary and other items of historical interest.

  • Patterson Park Baptist Church, which started as a Sunday School called Highlandtown Mission by Eutaw Place Baptist Church in 1906. This church recently was given to Gallery Church, a church plant that had been renting space nearby.

  • Jesus Our Redeemer Church (formerly Lee Street Memorial Church), which was started before the Civil War as a Sunday School ministry. The congregation became one of the largest in the city, flourishing under the ministry of E.Y. Mullins, a former Southern Baptist Convention president and a president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Five GAs from Hoffmeyer Baptist Church in Florence, S.C., were among the tour participants. The girls, ages 9-12, held several fundraisers for their trip to Baltimore.

Melissa Crowley, 11, said her favorite part of the tour was seeing Liesl Bolin from Woodbrook Baptist Church dressed up as Miss Annie. During the recent celebration of the 100th anniversary of GAs, Crowley also dressed up as Armstrong.

“It’s fun to put real life to history,” said Julie Heath, a preschool, children and student ministry specialist for Tennessee’s WMU. “In Mission Friends, when we talk about the [Annie Armstrong Easter] offering, I’ll be able to say we’ve been to Miss Annie’s hometown. She’s not just a black-and-white photo; she’s a real live person.”

For a video featuring John Roberts, pastor emeritus of Woodbrook Baptist Church, sharing an oral history of Annie Armstrong, go to https://vimeo.com/96924454. The video features John Roberts, pastor emeritus of Woodbrook Baptist Church, who shares an oral history of Annie Armstrong.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Shannon Baker is director of communications for the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware.)

6/11/2014 10:52:12 AM by Shannon Baker, BCMD/Baptist Press | with 0 comments

96 missionaries commissioned at rare joint IMB/NAMB service

June 10 2014 by Shannon Baker, Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware

The International Mission Board (IMB) and the North American Mission Board (NAMB) commissioned 96 missionaries during a rare joint commissioning service sponsored by the Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU), June 8, at the Baltimore Convention Center.

In an emotional service marked by prayer and praise, many were commissioned to serve as church planters, evangelism catalysts, collegiate ministers, refugee workers, chaplains and ministers to people groups in difficult areas of the world.

A capacity crowd listened to numerous testimonies of how God called individuals to Himself and into His service.


Photo by Bill Bangham
Roger Wall, left, embraces Dante and Schenita Randolph during a time of prayer for the 95 International Mission Board and North American Mission Board missionaries commissioned during a Woman’s Missionary Union Celebration June 8 at the Baltimore Convention Center. Wall, pastor of Providence Baptist Church in Pageland, S.C., served in Durham, N.C., where the Randolphs serve as missionaries at Grace Park Church.

Charles, 71, and Jan C., 69, after years of serving in various countries, now will work with South Asian refugees. “Why do we go? Why not retire and just take it easy?” Charles asked. “Because God’s called us, and we cannot say, ‘No,’” Jan answered. Charles agreed, “Missions is for life! Don’t let your age keep you from doing what God wants you to do!”

Through an interpreter, Gilmer and Ethel Mauricio, who had pastored several churches across South America, shared how they came to serve as church planters in Iowa. Because they could not find a Spanish language church, the couple visited Immanuel Baptist Church, a congregation that had prayed for four years for God to send a Hispanic planter. Five days later, the Mauricios started a Spanish language church there with 24 people. The church now has around 60 worshipers.

Jose Nater, along with his wife Mayra, shared how he serves as a bivocational pastor of three simultaneous church plants on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

Kirk and Tamra Overstreet, church planting catalysts in California, have seen thousands come to know Christ. Kirk said he grew up as a pastor’s kid and had made a lot of bad choices, but 18 years ago, he repented and put his trust in Jesus. The couple has planted churches for the past 14 years.

Some missionaries said they heard God’s call to mission service while serving on short-term mission trips. Five of them had been involved in Girls in Action when they were younger.

IMB President Tom Elliff challenged the missionaries to spread the gospel with urgency. He shared his experience with a young man who once asked him about God. Feeling exhausted at the time, Elliff agreed to meet him at a later date. Sadly, the man committed suicide before Elliff had the opportunity to share the gospel.

“That event radically changed my life,” Elliff said. He encouraged the missionaries to follow the Apostle Paul’s admonition in Colossians 4:17, “Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it.”

Pointing to Acts 18, NAMB President Kevin Ezell encouraged the missionaries and their families not to be afraid of the mission assignments.

“It’s a lot easier to talk about missions to your kids at VBS than it is at a commissioning service,” he acknowledged, noting God’s presence, protection and perspective would provide for each of them.

Frank S. Page, president and CEO of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, and Debby Akerman, WMU president, offered prayers for the missionaries. Native Praise, a musical group composed of Native Americans from Oklahoma, shared praise music in English, and three languages which represent the Five Civilized Tribes of Oklahoma. Wanda Lee, WMU’s executive director/treasurer, led participants to consider committing to pray, give or go in support of missions.

The last joint commissioning service between IMB and NAMB is believed to have been conducted 25 years ago, said Lee, who organized the event as a prelude to this year’s WMU annual meeting and missions celebration. The event marks the culmination of a yearlong celebration of WMU’s 125th anniversary.

(EDITOR’S NOTE ­– Shannon Baker is director of communications for the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware.)
6/10/2014 9:25:05 AM by Shannon Baker, Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware | with 0 comments

WMU enjoys historic ties to Baltimore

June 6 2014 by Shannon Baker and Julie Walters, WMU/Baptist Press

As the home of Annie Armstrong and the first home of Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU), Baltimore will host this year’s Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting and the culmination of a yearlong celebration of WMU’s 125th anniversary.

It was May 14, 1888, when a group of women gathered and formally organized what is known today as Woman’s Missionary Union, Auxiliary to Southern Baptist Convention, in the basement of Broad Street Baptist Church in Richmond, Va. They elected Annie Armstrong as their leader and set up headquarters in Baltimore from 1888 to 1921.

“When WMU organized in 1888, praying for and giving to missions was at the forefront of the women’s minds,” Wanda S. Lee, executive director/treasurer of national WMU, said. “They had read many missionary letters; heard the pleas from individuals, like Lottie Moon; and recognized the need to raise awareness and increase funding to support missions. What began with gathering eggs and baking bread to sell for missions soon turned into a missionary movement unlike anything their churches had ever experienced.

“Once they saw the impact they were having in isolated areas,” Lee said, “they realized there was strength in their collective efforts for missions. As a result, WMU was born and continues today with that same passion for praying and giving on behalf of our missionaries.”

At that historic inaugural meeting of WMU 126 years ago, it was the determined voice of Annie Armstrong who challenged the women to organize with these words: “What are your marching orders?”


Born in 1850 in the industrial port city of Baltimore, Annie Armstrong, or “Miss Annie,” attended Seventh Baptist Church. At Seventh, she was baptized at the age of 20, and shortly thereafter joined more than 100 members from Seventh to pioneer a new work at Eutaw Place Baptist Church. There, Armstrong remained an active member for nearly 70 years, until her death in 1938.

Born in 1850 in the industrial port city of Baltimore, Armstrong, or “Miss Annie” as she was affectionately known, attended Seventh Baptist Church. At Seventh, Armstrong was baptized at the age of 20, and shortly thereafter joined more than 100 members from Seventh to pioneer a new work at Eutaw Place Baptist Church. There, Armstrong remained an active member for nearly 70 years, until her death in 1938.

Describing Armstrong as “a tall, stately, outspoken, strong-willed leader,” author Bobbie Sorrill credits Armstrong’s Harvard-educated pastor Richard Fuller for building her deep convictions about missions. With his preaching described as “logic on fire,” Fuller’s passionate Southern lawyer roots paved way for his influence in framing the Southern Baptist Convention, at which he preached the first annual sermon, giving Armstrong and others an insider’s view into the birth of the denomination.

At the local church level, Armstrong taught in the Infant class (also called the Primary Department, for children up to age 12) for 50 years. All the while, she maintained an interest in ministering to mothers, immigrants, the underprivileged, the sick, African Americans, Indians, and later in her life, her Jewish neighbors. Accordingly, she worked at the Home of the Friendless, a shelter for destitute children, where she served on the board of managers for more than 20 years. She also started the Ladies’ Bay View Mission, an organization to help the destitute and poor of Baltimore, in the same site as today’s Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center.

Not only did Armstrong embrace Baltimore with the love of Christ, but her reach also extended to the uttermost parts of the world. Most notable are her efforts in missions education and missions support.

In 1880, in her first prominent leadership position, Armstrong served as the first president of the Woman’s Baptist Home Mission Society of Maryland, which involved women in supporting the Home Mission Board (now North American Mission Board) of the Southern Baptist Convention. The society’s first priority locally was forming an Indian school and ministering to Chinese immigrants. The organization also provided support for work in Cuba and New Orleans.

Armstrong later became the corresponding secretary of the Maryland Mission Rooms, later called the Mission Literature Department, SBC. This department served as a missions library and reading room and ultimately became a publisher and distributor of missions literature.

Beginning in 1888, Armstrong led in framing the constitution of WMU. She served as corresponding secretary – a position equivalent to executive director today – until 1906, always refusing a salary for the work she did through WMU to further the gospel.

“Annie set an example of sacrificial giving and commitment that continues as a part of the fabric of WMU today,” Lee said. “From teaching children to caring for the immigrants in Baltimore to sending aid to the Native Americans of Oklahoma, she modeled during those formative years how Jesus calls us to share His story with all people while meeting their physical needs. Annie also established WMU as the missions information center for Southern Baptists.”

Without the benefit of today’s technology, Armstrong wrote letters by hand to all the Southern Baptist foreign societies. On one occasion, she asked them to contribute to the first Christmas offering to send one missionary to assist Lottie Moon in China. That offering resulted in enough money to send three. The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for Foreign Missions, so named at Armstrong’s recommendation, has raised more than $3.7 billion for international missions from 1888 through 2012.

In 1895, Armstrong led WMU to contribute $5,000 to help alleviate the Home Mission Board’s $25,000 debt and prevent the withdrawal of missionaries from their mission fields. In response, WMU instituted the Week of Self-Denial as a time of praying for and giving to home missions.

Since that time, a week of prayer and a home missions offering have continued. From 1907, when official reporting began, through 2013, WMU has helped raise more than $1.5 billion through the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions, with the offering renamed in Armstrong’s honor in 1934. Year after year, Armstrong came up with new ways to get missions information out to the churches, to stir up missions efforts, and to raise more prayer support and money for missions.

“Miss Annie was never one to long for the past or to linger in the present,” Debby Akerman, national WMU president, said. “From WMU’s first offices in Baltimore, she envisioned WMU’s future, prayed for God’s guidance, and led the fledgling organization steadily forward ... laying a solid missions foundation on which future leaders would build.”

WMU’s headquarters remained in Baltimore until 1921 when they moved to Birmingham, Ala. The organization occupied two different locations in the downtown metro area, one from 1921–1951 and the second from 1951–1984, before moving to their current address at 100 Missionary Ridge.

Over the course of 126 years, WMU has grown from a group of women passionate about missions to a thriving international missions organization that encourages both genders and all ages to share the love of Christ and seek to make Him known.

Also consistent with WMU’s focus on supporting missionaries, this year’s WMU Missions Celebration in Baltimore prior to the SBC annual meeting will feature a rare opportunity on Sunday, June 8, to experience a joint commissioning service of approximately 100 new field personnel representing the International Mission Board and North American Mission Board. Those who attend will hear from SBC Executive Committee President Frank S. Page, NAMB President Kevin Ezell, IMB President Tom Elliff and national WMU leaders. This portion of the event will take place at 4 p.m. in the Baltimore Convention Center Ballroom. Admission is free and everyone is welcome.

For more information about WMU’s Missions Celebration, visit wmu.com/baltimore. For more about missions discipleship and involvement opportunities, visit wmu.com.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Shannon Baker is director of communications at the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware. Julie Walters is corporate communications team leader for Woman’s Missionary Union.)
6/6/2014 12:07:17 PM by Shannon Baker and Julie Walters, WMU/Baptist Press | with 0 comments

WMU-NC moving meeting to Winston-Salem

April 23 2014 by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Production Editor

Moving its annual meeting away from Ridgecrest Conference Center caused the biggest stir at the Woman’s Missionary Union of North Carolina’s recent meeting.
“After 22 years of meeting at Ridgecrest, many have grown to expect it always to be here,” said Tana Hartsell, WMU-NC president. Many have come to expect the “mountaintop experience.”
Stressing that WMU-NC remains thankful for Ridgecrest, its staff and facilities over its 22 years of meeting at the conference center nestled in the mountains, Hartsell said the organization was looking at the changing needs and desires of its membership.
“The necessity to make a change of some sort was clear,” she said, and many of the details still need “to be worked through, but already there are new and exciting ideas that are beginning to surface.”

BR photo by Dianna L. Cagle
Debby Akerman, Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) president, shares with participants of WMU-NC’s Missions Extravaganza April 4-6 at Ridgecrest Conference Center. See photo gallery.

Next year the group will meet April 17-18 at Ardmore Baptist Church in Winston-Salem. Participants for WMU-NC’s 123rd annual meeting and Missions Extravaganza numbered 734 women gathered April 4-6 at Ridgecrest Conference Center at Black Mountain. Throughout the conference women had the opportunity to attend seven breakout sessions from Friday afternoon through Sunday morning with several major sessions featuring Debby Akerman, national WMU president. Mother-daughter team Melody and Sarah Moore led the weekend’s music.
“In spite of the headline news which would lead us to believe otherwise, God is at work in our world today just as He is at work within our own hearts and lives,” Hartsell said. “The foundation of [WMU] is the basic core value that we believe that Jesus Christ, Son of God, gave His life, a sacrifice for the salvation of all people of the world fulfilling God’s plan for the ages as revealed in the Bible, God’s Holy Word. This is what compels, this is what propels Woman’s Missionary Union of North Carolina to challenge, prepare and equip Christian believers to be radically involved in the fulfillment of the Great Commission.”
Hartsell said WMU-NC is not doing a good job of communicating its own story.
“It isn’t about what we in WMU will do but it’s about what God can and will do through us as we follow where He leads,” she said.
Churches started more than 50 age-level WMU groups in 2013, including Mission Friends, Girls in Action, Acteens and Women on Mission. “You may think those numbers small but it’s what those numbers represent that we must remember,” Hartsell said. “Those are organizations where [people] will be challenged with the knowledge of those around the world living in darkness.”
Hartsell mentioned its support from the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) of North Carolina as well. WMU-NC is a “collaborating partner” with CBF, Hartsell said, but also mentioned CBF’s involvement in other Baptist entities in the state including Baptists on Mission (or North Carolina Baptist Men), Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina, Baptist Retirement Homes, N.C. Baptist Hospital and the Baptist-affiliated universities.
An offering April 5 raised more than $8,200 for WMU-NC. Women learned about ministries such as the new partnership with Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina and Baptists on Mission (or North Carolina Baptist Men) to aid in an orphanage in Guatemala.
Building on the theme “We’ve a story to tell,” Akerman talked about story telling being “one of the few human traits that is truly universal, found in every culture since time began,” Akerman said.
She praised the WMU for being the best discipleship setting for all ages.
“WMU challenges Christian believers to understand and be radically involved in the mission of God,” said Akerman. “Jesus came to proclaim a message with eternal value and purpose. God has purposed WMU to equip our churches to be on mission, to educate our preschoolers, children, students and adults to live missions lifestyles and to be intentional supporters for our thousands of Baptist missionaries.”
Akerman invited WMU-NC to come to Baltimore, Md., where WMU is holding its 125th annual meeting in June.
Beth Beam, chairwoman of the finance committee, shared the 2013 budget was $1,349,432 based on estimated monthly expenses of $112,453. Contributions totaled $967,343 from the WMU operating fund, Heck-Jones Offering, Crown Club contributions and CBF. Beam noted that the number is down more than $6,100 from the same category in 2012 and more than $22,000 from 2011.
Even with fewer dollars coming in WMU-NC had a net gain of $57,740. Beam said the only reason expenses were less than the income was because of the open position for executive director-treasurer and a preschool/children position.
WMU-NC’s goal of $385,000 for the 2013 Heck-Jones Offering fell short with $314,934. The 2014 goal is $400,000. So far the group has just over $106,000 toward that goal.
A detailed 2014 budget was approved. The budget was set at $991,387. It is available at http://tinyurl.com/2014wmuncbudget.
“This budget represents lives,” Beam said. “We have a dedicated and dependable full- and part-time staff that operates WMU North Carolina. They are fully committed to challenging, preparing and equipping Christian believers to be radically involved in the fulfillment of the Great Commission.”
Hartsell, a member of Kannapolis First Baptist Church, was re-elected as president while Denise “Dee Dee” Moody, a member of First Baptist Church in Salisbury, was approved as vice president. Beth McDonald, a member of McDonald Baptist Church in Rockingham, was re-elected as recording secretary, and Barbara Hill, a member of Fairview Baptist Church in Statesville, was elected as assistant recording secretary.
Members of the board elected were (by region): Region 1 – Nancy Scaff, Woodville Baptist Church in Hertford; Region 3 – Deborah Taylor, Great Marsh Baptist Church in St. Pauls; Region 5 – Linda Beaver, First Baptist Church in Salisbury; Region 5 – Kristie Foster, High Rock Church; Region 5 – Joyce T. Rogers, First Baptist Church in Asheboro; Region 6 – Linda Linderman, Deep Springs Baptist Church in Peachland; Region 7 – Jennifer Coffey, Indian Hills Baptist Church in Lenoir; Region 8 – Cynthia C. Marks, Alexis Baptist Church in Alexis; and Region 10 – Nelda Reid, East Sylva Baptist Church in Sylva.

Photo gallery

4/23/2014 10:05:43 AM by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Production Editor | with 0 comments

WMU challenged to raise missions bar

January 22 2014 by Julie Walters, WMU/Baptist Press

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.  – Raising the bar of missions involvement was the challenge woven throughout national WMU’s board meeting at Shocco Springs Conference Center in Talladega, Ala.
National WMU President Debby Akerman said in her address, “With Jesus’ words in Mark 8:34, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me,’ the bar was raised for those following Jesus.”
“For the disciples He had called, as well as those who were the unnamed, not yet committed faces in the crowd, Jesus raised the bar of discipleship to a level that would now require wholehearted surrender, sacrifice and service,” Akerman told state WMU executive directors and staff, state WMU presidents, and national WMU staff.
“A level that would connect the Great Commandment to love God with all your heart, soul and mind and your neighbor as yourself, to the Great Commission, to go into all the world to teach all nations,” she said during the Jan. 11-13 meeting. “It requires sacrificial living.

Debby Akerman, president of national WMU, issues a challenge to "raise the bar" for missions involvement in her address during WMU’s board meeting at Shocco Springs Conference Center in Alabama.

“We, too, must say with those who came before us, taking up the Calvary cross of sacrifice, that we will wholeheartedly follow Jesus and do whatever My Lord gives me to do.”
Tom Elliff, IMB president, also illustrated the need for raising the bar of missions involvement with some statistics:
  • 75 percent of the world’s population live in areas hostile to the Christian faith.
  • Almost two-thirds of IMB’s budget comes from the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. This offering provides funding for the almost 4,900 missionaries on the field.
Currently there are 864 strategic need requests from the field but the current budget will only allow 576 new personnel to be sent this year. There are missionary candidates in the application process who could fill the remaining strategic needs if more funding were available.
“We need spiritual revival,” the International Mission Board’s leader said. “Missionaries working in difficult places would never be sustained by a mediocre faith.
“Missions involvement cannot be limited to a trip, or a focus for one week during the week of prayer,” he said. “We must have a furnace of prayer, 365 days a year, to pray for an awakening across our nation and to pray for the nations.”
Pedro Hernandez, a missionary with the North American Mission Board, also underscored the importance of an awakening across the nation and the critical role of prayer. He and his wife Marjorie are church planters within the New York Baptist Convention. 
Evangelical Christians comprise roughly 4 percent of the population in the New York metro area, Hernandez said. There are about 220 churches, which translates as one church for every 76,000 people.
“Many people in our area are apathetic,” he said. “They view God as a myth or maybe something even good, but not for them. Think of our metro areas as a training ground to reach post-modern culture.”
Hernandez expressed gratitude for all of the prayers, especially in regard to Hurricane Sandy, which opened doors for ministry as people experienced tremendous loss.
“You may not see the results of your prayers,” he said, “but they go far and make a difference. Day after day, we see prayers answered. God is working. We need to raise the bar. They are never enough prayers. There is never enough missions.”
Andrew Mann, also a church planter with the North American Mission Board, serves in the Bronx as pastor/executive director of Graffiti 2 Community Ministries with the assistance of Proof, a professional therapy dog that works beside him in the ministry.
Mann also thanked Woman’s Missionary Union for their prayer support and for raising awareness about human exploitation. “WMU brings a breath of life to a church,” he said. “You are such a blessing. Through your Project HELP focus on Human Exploitation, you helped raise awareness in our area of needs related to human trafficking in New York City.”
In closing, Akerman said, “WMU in our churches strengthens every generation to live surrendered to the call of Jesus to follow Him. As WMU guides our churches to look at the world through the eyes of Jesus and to love the world through the heart of God, Who so loved the world that He gave us Jesus, they will have a biblical, missional worldview.
“We extend a call to our churches and all who are part of WMU to live a totally surrendered life in Christ,” she said, “to live a life marked by personal sacrifice to advance the Gospel of Christ, and to live as a servant of our King Jesus through the missions objectives of WMU.”
In other business, the Executive Board of national WMU:
  • Awarded nearly $178,000 in endowments, grants and scholarships in partnership with the WMU Foundation.
  • Approved $175 million as goal for the 2014 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.
  • Approved $60 million as goal for the 2015 Annie Armstrong Easter Offering.
  • Adopted a new achievement plan for Royal Ambassadors, called RA Trek, to be available in the fall.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Julie Walters is the corporate communications team leader for WMU.)
1/22/2014 12:46:59 PM by Julie Walters, WMU/Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Woman with N.C. ties joins national WMU as consultant

January 15 2014 by Julie Walters, WMU

Clella Lee joined the national Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) staff as leadership consultant on the adult resource team on Jan. 6.
In this new role, she will create strategic plans for developing women in the area of leadership including an online leadership training program to further expand WMU’s Christian Women’s Leadership Center (CWLC).
The CWLC is a partnership between WMU and Samford University for the purpose of assisting women of all walks of life in furthering their leadership capabilities. 

WMU photo
Clella Lee

Lee will help guide and grow the CWLC by implementing plans for experiential learning opportunities, more internships for students at WMU, monthly leadership luncheons, and more.
“Clella brings a great depth of knowledge and practical experience to WMU,” said Carol Causey, director of national WMU’s missions resource center. “Her role in leading the CWLC will give her and WMU an ideal platform to assist women in all spheres of life to be servant leaders.
“We are thrilled Clella is joining us.”
Most recently, Lee served on the staff of Lafayette Baptist Church in Fayetteville, N.C., leading in the areas of evangelism and equipping from 2000 to 2008, and music and worship from 2008 until April 2013.
Prior work experience includes serving at Campbell University Divinity School in Buies Creek, N.C., as an adjunct professor in 2010 and 2011.
She was also director of admissions and student affairs from 1997 until 2000.
She also has 14 years of experience teaching in elementary schools which will help give context and insight as she helps develop leadership content for all WMU age-level missions organizations.
Lee obtained a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn.
She earned a master of divinity with a concentration in Christian education and doctor of ministry from Campbell University.
She and her husband, Brian, who serves as pastor of Shades Crest Baptist Church, reside in Birmingham, Ala. 
1/15/2014 11:25:47 AM by Julie Walters, WMU | with 0 comments

Lottie Moon's story reenacted at seminary

December 19 2013 by Frank Michael McCormack, Baptist Press

NEW ORLEANS – Laurita Miller told the story of Lottie Moon's call to China by portraying the missions trailblazer in chapel at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
Miller gave NOBTS students a vivid picture of Moon's lifetime of service to God. She started with Moon's call and the story of her first trip to China, recounting how other missionaries en route to China broke down in tears as they set sail. Moon saw the journey in a different light.
“I could only think with joy that my most cherished purpose was about to be fulfilled,” Miller portrayed Moon as saying. “And in going ... to serve my Lord in north China, I was simply going home, home to the center of what I knew God's will to be for my life.”
Miller, of Birmingham, Ala., also portrays Ann Judson, William Carey's sister, and women of the Bible including Mary Magdalene, Jesus' mother Mary, Elizabeth, Priscilla, Sarah, Deborah, the woman caught in adultery and the woman at the well. Miller's parents were missionaries to Hawaii and later to Macau.
“The most asked-for thing I do next to Lottie Moon is a monologue on the life of Mary,” Miller said. “The name of the monologue is 'Just one of God's servants.' It's a 20-minute interesting take on the life of Mary.”
Miller depicted Moon's first few years in Dengzhou, China, as “a kind of training period.”
Moon mastered the language and some of the dialects native to north China thanks in part to the help of a language student. Moon also faced some harsh treatment from the people in Dengzhou, which she later tied to the American style of dress she maintained while there.
Moon spent her first days in China serving alongside her sister, Edmonia. Unfortunately, illness forced Edmonia to return to the United States a short time later, with Moon accompanying her. Moon said family and friends urged her to remain in the States.

Photo by Boyd Guy
Laurita Miller portrays missionary icon Lottie Moon during chapel at New Orleans Seminary.

“But you see my friends, it was God that called me to China, and a calling is not a little thing. A calling is not to be shelved because others don't agree with your calling, or they're afraid for your safety, or they want you to come and be their, or whatever,” Miller said in her role as Lottie Moon. “So I chose to return to China at my own expense, knowing that I was completely dependent on my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for my sustenance and my direction.”
During those early years, Moon and other female missionaries became convinced that only women could reach Chinese women with the gospel. A gradual shift from school teaching to direct evangelism and church planting ensued. It was during this time that Moon began her letter-writing campaign as she encouraged Baptist women in the United States to organize for the sake of international missions.
Around 1885, Moon moved to P'ingtu, China, to begin more aggressive evangelistic work. There, she exchanged her American dress for indigenous clothes and experienced an immediate impact.
“For the very first time, I put on Chinese clothing. Do you know ... the adults began bowing to me and would speak to me by my name. And the children – Oh! – the children began following me home,” Miller said in her portrayal.
Moon also saw a huge breakthrough in support from the States during her years in P'ingtu. In 1887, eight new missionaries joined her. And in 1888, Southern Baptist women formed the Woman's Missionary Union and soon organized the first Baptist Christmas offering for foreign missions. The $3,200 collected paid the passage of three women to relieve Moon in north China.
“And of course, I couldn't leave. Someone had to train those women. Someone had to take care of those women” was Moon's response as voiced by Miller.
Except for a brief furlough in 1890, Moon remained in the field despite war, famine and extreme poverty. Her faithfulness paid off. During her service in China, there were thousands of converts.
By 1909, “we had a trained indigenous Chinese ministry in north China,” Miller, as Moon, said.
But by 1912, Moon herself experienced the mental and physical fatigue that haunted so many other missionaries in that time who journeyed to China. Late in the year, the decision was made to send Moon back to Virginia because of her failing health.
“They took my little bag of bones – there was 50 pounds left of me I am told – and took me to the ship and tucked me in a warm berth,” she said. “When the ship docked in Kobe, Japan, on Christmas Eve of 1912, Jesus came to meet the ship, and He took me home with Him.”
Miller used Moon's persona to challenge students in ministry.
“God carves out places for each one of His children to serve Him. For me, it was China. For you, you will soon know. God asks us to serve Him. We are to commit ourselves to Him, and He expects commitment. He expects devotion. He expects sacrifice – at all costs.”
In an interview apart from her chapel portrayal, Miller said she has known the story of Lottie Moon from a very early age.
“In GAs  growing up, we studied about missions and I learned about Lottie Moon,” Miller said. “She's always been something of an icon in our family because of her great mission work.”
Miller attended Samford University in Birmingham, where she majored in theater and psychology. Eventually, she began writing and presenting “biblical monologues” and later portraying missionaries.
“Back probably in the late '70s or early '80s, I started portraying Lottie Moon to support our Christmas offering in whatever church I was in,” she said.
Miller said she also has a close personal connection to Lottie Moon. While serving in Macau, Miller's parents traveled to north China in search of Moon's church and home, which they found. To her knowledge, they were the first modern missionaries to visit Moon's place of ministry.
“It was quite a feat in that day and age for my parents to make that journey, really without a visa,” Miller said.
Miller portrays Lottie Moon for WMU and, four times a year, for the International Mission Board for every new group of missionaries commissioned to serve overseas. She also travels to churches, mostly in the South and Midwest, to give her Lottie Moon monologues.
Miller said the message and story of Moon's conviction, obedience and sacrifice is just as relevant today as it was 100 years ago.
Lottie Moon was the epitome of Christian sacrifice. I know that, in this day and age, we do have missionaries around the world whose lives are at stake. But most of us here at home live very content, complacent lives,” Miller said. “We have a world to win to Christ. He's the only answer. I think it's important we do everything we can to inspire one another to make the sacrifices necessary to spread the gospel.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Frank Michael McCormack writes for New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.)
12/19/2013 1:00:15 PM by Frank Michael McCormack, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

WMU-NC launches new partnership

December 18 2013 by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Production Editor

As Tana Hartsell stood in front of the messengers at the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina annual meeting Nov. 12, she listed some of the achievements of the women, men, boys and girls of North Carolina.
“We have witnessed God in individual lives and through our organizations and ministries,” said Hartsell, president of Woman’s Missionary Union of North Carolina (WMU-NC).
“The foundation of Woman’s Missionary Union is the basic core value that we believe that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, gave His life a sacrifice for salvation of people in all the world fulfilling God’s plan for the ages as revealed in the Bible, God’s Holy Word.

BR photo by Dianna L. Cagle
Tana Hartsell, president of Woman’s Missionary Union of North Carolina, addresses messengers Nov. 12 during the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina annual meeting.  

This is the guiding light that propels Woman’s Missionary Union of North Carolina to challenge, prepare and equip Christian believers to be radically involved in the fulfillment of the Great Commission.”
Adults, students and children in churches and associations across North Carolina have “arisen to ensure that indeed God’s story lives on,” Hartsell said, highlighting several of the ministries.
Through SHINE (Serving God, Helping Others, Inspiring Believers, Networking Community, Experiencing Christ), young women ages 18-35 participated in its first mission trip to Pittsburgh, Pa.
In its effort towards missions education, WMU-NC took part in a special day in October at Campbell University highlighting the ministries of the organization.
“God plants the mission seed in women and men, boys and girls through missions education, and He waters it with a passion to arise and shine to support missions with our prayers, our financial resources and our personal involvement,” she said.
That responsibility towards education prompted the Christian Women’s Leadership Certification program through Campbell University Divinity School, which now has three women who have completed the courses.
Habitat for Humanity work continued through WMU-NC. The women took part in a build in Randolph County. In its sixth year, a Habitat leader expressed thanks and praise for hard work on the house in Randolph County. One volunteer said, “I’m doing it because I like to be where God is working miracles.”
Hartsell also drew attention to military missions and Sisters Who Care (SWC). SWC is a ministry focused on African-American women and their involvement in ministry. Through SWC eyeglasses are collected and sent to impoverished areas to aid in ministry.
Military missions can vary depending on the needs or desire of the area. Some may participate in prayer partnerships, encouragement and military family support. A ministry that Hartsell mentioned was a retreat for military wives being scheduled in October 2014. She asked messengers to consider providing scholarships for women to attend.
Each year WMU-NC hosts a prison retreat for women who are incarcerated in the five women’s correctional facilities across North Carolina.

Partnership in Armenia

For the first time in its history WMU-NC has formed a foreign partnership. Hartsell shared about the new partnership with Armenia and thanked North Carolina Baptist Men (NCBM) for helping with navigating the path. NCBM also has a partnership with Armenia.
In September 2012 a team of seven women went on the first WMU-NC-sponsored trip to Armenia.
“It was an amazing experience,” Hartsell said.
In May 2013 the WMU-NC Executive Board approved the partnership between WMU-NC and Armenian Baptists. Hartsell said the goal is to work with the women on their role in the church and helping them know how to minister in the communities. A team went in May and worked with approximately 130 women in 10 churches.
As part of the partnership WMU-NC had someone develop a 2.5-year course of study for women at the seminary in Armenia. The first class was taught in September with 17 women enrolled.
Hartsell mentioned that a couple was going this month to Guatamala with a representative from the Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina in hopes of establishing a children’s home there. (See story in the Jan. 4, 2014, issue.)
She also highlighted the 2014 theme for the Heck-Jones Offering  – “A Cord of Three Strands: His story, our story, your story.” The theme is based on Ecclesiastes 4:12. The Week of Prayer is scheduled February 10-16. Promotional materials are available via wmunc.org.
WMU-NC sponsored a writing competition among the children involved in its organization. Children were asked to write a story about someone who exemplifies a mission lifestyle. Winners of this contest will be featured during the Heck-Jones Offering and will attend a camp free of charge.
“It’s our desire to work with every woman, with every man, with every boy, with every girl, to reach across the street, down the street and to the other side, building those relationships that tear down barriers that so often keep people from knowing the love of Christ,” she said.
12/18/2013 1:07:04 PM by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Production Editor | with 1 comments

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