WMU Celebration spotlights surrender, sacrifice, service

June 17 2015 by Laura Fielding, IMB Connections

About 370 Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) members, leaders and supporters celebrated outgoing National WMU President Debby Akerman, heard from missionaries and even had the chance to kiss a llama during the first day of the WMU Missions Celebration and Annual Meeting, June 14-15.
The celebration was held at First Baptist Church of Grove City, prior to the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention, June 16-17, in Columbus, Ohio.
In her opening address, Akerman welcomed attendees and spoke of the year’s theme, “All for You,” based on Mark 8:34.
“This call of Jesus is an all-or-nothing call; it is a lay-it-all-on-the-line call, a call to surrender, to sacrifice and to serve,” Akerman said.

‘Both feet in’

Wanda Lee, executive director of national WMU, said the missionaries “are the primary reason we are here. We are here to know more about their work and how we may partner with our missionaries around the world as they share the gospel.”


Photo by Matt Miller
Acteen Victoria Hernandez presents Debby Akerman, president of the Woman’s Missionary Union for the past five years, a gift for her service to the WMU during a session June 15 of the WMU annual meeting and Mission Celebration at First Baptist Church Grove City, Ohio. Akerman will step down as president after this year.

Marion G. “Bud” Fray, retired International Mission Board missionary, served in Zimbabwe and South Africa for 28 years. He – along with former missionary and author Kim Davis – wrote the WMU emphasis book for the year, Both Feet In: A Journey to Surrender, Sacrifice, and Service.
“When you ask if there are missions heroes we can look up to today and learn from, Dr. Bud Fray and his wife Jane rise to the top,” Lee said.
Fray shared a story from his time in Zimbabwe when he met a man named Mandebvu. Through the death of Mandebvu’s brother, Fray was able to minister to him and present the gospel. Mandebvu came to know the Lord.
About a year later, Fray had started a new church. Mandebvu and his family hiked three miles to church even amid torrential rains, crossing swelling rivers. Fray told Mandebvu that he did not have to bring his family across the river during the rains. It was too deep, Fray insisted.
“My pastor, my teacher, there is no such thing as too deep or too far,” Mandebvu told him. “When I came to Jesus, I came both feet in. No questions asked, no water too deep, no too far to church.”
Fray said, “His love for Jesus was as pure as freshly-driven snow ... What an idiom of commitment that I am ‘all His.’”

Five faithful years

Lee then recognized Akerman for her commitment to the Lord, and celebrated Akerman’s five years as national WMU president. Her term ends at the conclusion of this year’s meeting. The new president will be announced June 15.


Photo by Matt Miller
Anna Mary Byrdwell of Kentucky pets one of the Good News Llamas at the Woman’s Missionary Union annual meeting and Missions Celebration at the First Baptist Church in Grove City, Ohio.

“She’s been an articulate speaker of biblical truths, a staunch supporter of all things missions through WMU, and I think one of Debby’s greatest contributions may lie in her ability to build relationships with people across all venues of life,” Lee said. “She’s represented us well with spiritual wisdom and insight that only touches the surface of her own personal walk with the Lord.”
Lee presented Akerman a gift to help her remember the hard work and hours spent in writing her stories and sharing her biblical understanding: framed covers of her two books, Hold On and Secrets to Surrender.
After the afternoon session, attendees were invited to meet and greet Akerman and her family – her husband, daughter, sister and brother – at a reception in her honor.
During this interactive option time, Fray also signed copies of his book. Outside the church, The Good News Llamas ministry of southern Ohio had two llamas available to visit and to “kiss” (hold a cookie in one’s mouth for the llama to take). The ministry shares the gospel through their llama farm and taking the animals to events.

All on mission

During the evening session, Terry Dorsett, executive director of the Baptist Convention of New England, shared stories about wholehearted surrender. Previously, Dorsett and his wife Kay served as North American Mission Board (NAMB) church planting missionaries in Vermont.
It was there Dorsett met his greatest challenge – driving one winter day, his family was hit head-on by a drunk driver. His son was badly injured. Although after months his family healed physically, Dorsett could not forgive the driver, Barbara. “Even missionaries can get angry and bitter,” he said.
But the Lord began to deal with his lack of forgiveness. Dorsett committed to forgive and share God’s love with her. When released from prison, Barbara asked Dorsett to tell her more about Jesus. She repented of her sins and gave her life to Jesus.
Although Dorsett no longer works for NAMB, “that does not mean that my wife and I have stopped being missionaries. You see, our missionary calling came from God, and it remains.... We’re all supposed to be on mission as missionaries regardless of how we get our paycheck.”
In other news:

  • Three of the six National Acteens Panelists shared testimonies of how God impacted their lives through Acteens: Haley Harrison of Charlotte, N.C.; Hydiatu Konneh of Louisville, Ky.; and Ashley Johns of Katy, Texas. Each panelist received a $1,000 scholarship from the WMU Foundation.

  • Arlene Miller of Crofton, Ky., received the 2015 Dellanna West O’Brien Leadership Award.

  • WMU celebrated the 20th anniversary of the WMU Foundation. Lee presented the foundation president David George two gifts: a plaque of appreciation and a check for $2,020. The arrangement of the numbers is significant, Lee said – the first 20 for the vision set before WMU 20 years ago, and the second 20 for the vision George is casting for the future.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Laura Fielding is an IMB writer.)

6/17/2015 12:19:26 PM by Laura Fielding, IMB Connections | with 0 comments

Women consider surrender, sacrifice and service

May 4 2015 by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Production Editor

“The sacrifices of the missionary calling are not in the conveniences of life but I’ve often heard my parents say the greatest sacrifice of the missionary calling is family,” said Gordon Fort, senior vice president of the office of prayer mobilization and training for the International Mission Board (IMB).
Fort remembers growing up in what was then Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). His parents would pull out the prayer list at the end of a meal to pray for the missionaries who had birthdays that day.
“The group I always knew was taking my name to the throne of God was WMU” or Woman’s Missionary Union, said Fort, missionary kid turned missionary. “WMU was doing missions before missions was cool.”
Fort, along with Phyllis Elvington and Edna Ellison, both of South Carolina, were the main speakers during WMU-NC’s Missions Extravaganza April 17-18 at Ardmore Baptist Church in Winston-Salem.


BR photo by Dianna L. Cagle
Phyllis Elvington, left, leads a prayer for new officers and regional representatives for the Woman’s Missionary Union of North Carolina. See photo gallery.

Fort remembers his mother being notified by telegraph that her mother had died. By the time the family received notice, her mother was dead and buried.
“She had to wait for three more years for her stateside furlough to go to the cemetery [in Louisiana] and grieve the death of her mother,” he said.
Fort’s father received a telegram telling him his youngest brother had a brain tumor.
“I had never seen my father cry,” he said. “He sat in [a] rocking chair and just rocked with the tears streaming down his face because he knew he wouldn’t be there in the last days of his brother’s life.”
Fort asked the more than 800 women if the God who would provide in their time of desperation wasn’t also “the One who can ask of you anything?”
Speakers stressed the theme “All For You: Surrender – Sacrifice – Serve.” Music was provided by various groups and individuals from Ardmore Baptist under the leadership of David Fitzgerald, the church’s minister of worship, music and arts.
Ellison, author and WMU leader, told the ladies that God is good “in everything we do.” She scoffs at the idea that God is too hard to understand. “God is too good for us to understand,” she stressed.
National Acteen panelists from North Carolina also shared with participants. Haley Harrison and Kiara Curry are members at University Hills Baptist Church in Charlotte.
Both girls stressed the opportunities offered them because they are Acteens.
Curry said her fellow Acteens keep her accountable and provide encouragement.
“I feel as though I’m ready to take on the world one teen girl at a time,” Curry said.
Harrison said being part of Acteens has taught her to witness “in both word and deed” and showing believers and unbelievers the love of Christ.
“Acteens gives you close fellowship with other teen girls that you might not have otherwise,” Harrison said.
Elvington’s message focused on the word “all.”
“I don’t think we get it,” she said. “I think most of us are really fans of Christ not followers of Christ, because it doesn’t cost you anything to be a fan of Christ, … but it’s going to cost you everything to be a follower of Christ.”
She challenged the ladies about their families and their finances.
“As a Christian your foundation is Jesus,” she said. “As a Christian marriage your foundation is Jesus. You need to pray for your spouse every day.”
She also said women need to pray with their husbands every day. The same practice should be carried out with the children too: pray for them and with them.
“Children don’t learn how to pray in Sunday School,” she said. “They learn how to pray at home.”


WMU-NC business

During the 124th annual meeting’s business session Ruby Fulbright, former executive director-treasurer, presented Dorothy Barham her Heritage Award, which had been announced in February.
“If I could choose only two words to describe Dorothy they would be prayer and missions,” Fulbright said of the Lillington Baptist Church member. “The prayer that burdens Dorothy’s heart and keeps her on her knees is her prayer for those who are lost.”
The women approved a reduced budget of $955,694. WMU-NC’s 2014 budget was $991, 387, and the 2013 budget was more than $1.3 million. While the group did finish 2014 in the black, Mary Ellen Bowman, chairwoman of the finance committee, said that was because the group has not filled the position of executive director-treasurer.
“We can only pinch so many pennies [before] we begin to take the heart” of the organization, Bowman said. “There’s nowhere else to cut. The solution is [to] give more.”
WMU-NC receipts were down 6 percent last year and 17 percent over the last two years.
Tana Hartsell, former president, is acting executive director-treasurer. WMU-NC presented a monetary gift in her honor to the Good Shepherd Children’s Home in Guatemala, which was established by the Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina in partnership with WMU-NC and N.C. Baptist Men. WMU-NC also presented Hartsell with a personalized throw with the WMU logo on one side and a photo of Hartsell with her name and years of service as president on the other side.
Participants at the meeting approved a proposal from Hartsell to move the meeting dates from April 8-9 to March 11-13 in 2016. The meeting will be held at Ridgecrest Conference Center in Black Mountain.
WMU-NC added about 50 new groups – Children in Action, Acteens, Girls in Action, Royal Ambassadors, Women on Mission, etc. – during the last year. Hartsell stressed the Great Commission and the importance of joining God where He is working
“Missions education remains at the foundation” of WMU-NC, Hartsell said.
Participants took an offering  of $5052.62 to go towards Project Help: PTSD, aiding in helping people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Women also gave $325 to the Heck-Jones Offering and $340 towards operating cash for WMU-NC.
“It’s not easy to find someone who cares or who is willing to listen,” said Wanda Croom, a WMU leader and member of Dobson First Baptist Church, who shared about her and husband’s struggle with PTSD.
A Vietnam veteran, Dobson’s husband has struggled with PTSD long before PTSD was recognized. “Some days he’s just anxious for no apparent reason,” she said. “Project help … gives us hope.”
Participants voted on new officers and regional representatives for the Executive Board: Dee Dee Moody, president (First Baptist Church, Salisbury); Deborah Taylor, vice president (Great Marsh Baptist Church, Saint Pauls); Mary Ellen Bowman, vice president of development (First Baptist Church, Wilmington); Barbara Hill, recording secretary (Fairview Baptist Church, Statesville); Beth McDonald, assistant recording secretary (McDonald Baptist Church, Rockingham); Jeanette Walters, Region 2 (Love Memorial Baptist Church, Goldsboro); Tammy Weeks, Region 3 (Piney Grove Baptist Church, Faison); Dorothy Barham, Region 4 (Lillington Baptist Church, Lillington); Irma Duke, Region 4 (Baptist Fellowship of Angier); Judy Pettigrew, Region 9 (Waynesville First Baptist Church); and Debbie Hooper, Region 10 (Scotts Creek Baptist Church, Sylva). Regional representatives serve three-year terms.

5/4/2015 2:18:05 PM by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Production Editor | with 0 comments

WMU focus on surrender, sacrifice, service

April 29 2015 by Julie Walters, WMU

Prior to the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in Columbus, North American and international missionaries will share how God is at work around the world during the Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) Missions Celebration and Annual Meeting, June 14–15.
This year’s theme, “All for You,” focuses on surrender, sacrifice and service as a follower of Christ.


“In following Jesus, we find the joy and purpose that makes life worth living,” Wanda S. Lee, executive director of national WMU, said. “Nothing shares the message of Jesus better than a life lived in total surrender to Him. When we surrender our all for Him, sacrificing our desires out of a heart of love, life takes on a new form – one devoted to service to others.”
This devotion to Christ and a passion for sharing Him with others will be a consistent theme of featured speakers, including Michael Coleman, a military chaplain with the North American Mission Board; Terry Dorsett, executive director of the Baptist Convention of New England; Earl Hewitt, a doctor who serves in West Africa; David and Alicia who serve in Southeast Asia; and Bud Fray, a retired missionary who served in Africa. Fray’s new book, “Both Feet In,” a story of God at work through His missionaries, will be the next emphasis book for WMU in 2015–2016.
General sessions are on Sunday, June 14, at 3:30 p.m. and 6 p.m., and on Monday, June 15, at 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. In addition, 20 different conferences will be offered on Monday. Topics range from creative ways to engage preschoolers, children, youth and adults in missions, to understanding post-traumatic stress disorder and learning ways your church can minister to those living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Additional elements this year include:

  • A reception in honor of Debby Akerman as she completes her fifth year of service as president of national WMU. A new president will be elected during the business session on Monday.

  • Missions Monday, June 15, hands-on missions experiences for children in grades 1–6 onsite at the church from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Advance registration is required.

  • Continuing education units (CEUs) for healthcare professionals who attend designated conferences.

  • An opportunity to help missions efforts in the Columbus area by bringing travel-size hygiene items to donate.

  • Chick-fil-A lunch available to purchase for $5 onsite at the church on Monday.

The WMU Missions Celebration and Annual Meeting will be at First Baptist Church of Grove City. The church is approximately a 10- to 15-minute drive south from the Greater Columbus Convention Center, where the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention will be held June 16–17.
Visit for more information, including a complete schedule, additional details, online registration for children for Missions Monday, and more.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Julie Walters is the corporate communications team leader for the Woman’s Missionary Union, based in Birmingham, Ala.)

4/29/2015 12:32:55 PM by Julie Walters, WMU | with 0 comments

Two University Hills teens named National Acteens Panelists

March 23 2015 by Julie Walters, WMU Communications

Kiara Curry and Haley Harrison, both of University Hills Baptist Church in Charlotte, are two of six Acteens selected by national Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) to serve on the 2015 National Acteens Panel. These girls were selected based on their commitment to missions and participation and leadership in their Acteens group, church, school, and community.
Curry and Harrison will serve on the panel along with Grace-Ann Combs of First Baptist Church, Amarillo, Texas; Victoria Hernandez of Freeman Heights Baptist Church, Garland, Texas; Ashley Johns of Tallowood Baptist Church, Katy, Texas; and Hydiatu Konneh of Fern Creek Baptist Church, Louisville, Ky.


Acteens is WMU’s missions organization for girls in grades 7–12. Through Acteens, girls grow in their relationship with God and each other as they learn about and participate in missions, develop leadership skills, and live a missional lifestyle
“In reading this year’s applications for the National Acteens Panel, I was moved by the understanding these young women have of the value of Acteens and ongoing missions education,” reflected Suzanne Reece, national WMU’s ministry consultant for students.
“They recognize the importance of learning about missions, praying for missions, and being involved in hands-on missions experiences. They also see how Acteens prepares them to live as missional disciples in the world every day.”
In her application, Curry wrote, “Missions brings me joy, gives me a chance to impact others, serve Christ, and learn to be flexible and less self-centered. Each time I go on a missions trip, God shows me something different about myself that I didn’t know before.
Helping others and doing missions is one of my favorite ways of worshipping. It gives me pure joy to know that I’m learning and growing in my faith while I’m serving Christ.
“The value of Acteens is something not often found in teenage culture and something I feel is irreplaceable,” she continued.
“Acteens gives teenage girls the opportunity to grow in their faith and to understand the importance of Christ in their lives. We learn speaking skills, leadership abilities and how to carry ourselves at all times. Acteens has shaped me into the young woman I am today and continues to shape me and mold me into the woman God wants me to be.”
Harrison wrote, “Acteens teaches girls about missions and gives them opportunities so they can go into the world and show an example of Jesus. I have learned about the needs of unreached international people as well as rural and city life here in America.
“I believe all churches should have Acteens,” Harrison continued, “because Acteens do more than just go to church regularly or have a meeting. Acteens strengthens your relationship with Christ and trains you to use your gifts. God has used Acteens to change my life.”
Julie Keith, youth specialist for North Carolina WMU, recommended both girls for the national panel. Keith said, “Kiara strives to be inclusive in all she does and is great at making people feel welcomed and loved. She has a heart to serve and to love others like Christ loves. Haley is truly a servant leader with an incredible ability to lead and encourage others. She shares Christ very naturally and in doing so she spreads God’s love in such a beautiful way.”
Curry, who is a student at Vance High School in Charlotte, and Harrison, a student at Crossway Christian Academy in Charlotte, are serving on the N.C. Acteens Advisory Panel for 2014-2015 with Leeann Easley, a student at St. Paul’s High School in St. Paul’s and member of Great Marsh Church in St. Paul’s; and Ashton Stepanek, a student at Reborn Christian Academy in Kannapolis and member of Jackson Park Baptist Church in Kannapolis.
The National Acteens Panelists, who serve from Feb. 1 to Dec. 31, each receive $1,000 from the Jessica Powell Loftis Scholarship for Acteens from the WMU Foundation. These National Panelists will be featured during the WMU Missions Celebration and Annual Meeting in Columbus, Ohio, June 14-15, where they will also have opportunities to meet national and international missionaries and interact with missions leaders from across the country. They will also write articles for The Mag, the Acteens missions magazine, and for the Acteens website,
Churches, associations, and/or state Acteens and WMU groups may request the Acteens Panelists to speak to their group. Applications for the 2016 National Acteens Panel are due to national WMU by Nov. 1, 2015, and will be available in the fall issue of Acteens Leader. For more information on Acteens, visit

3/23/2015 1:51:01 PM by Julie Walters, WMU Communications | with 0 comments

Grants help Liberian schools to re-open

March 10 2015 by Candice Lee, WMU Foundation

A total of $44,000 in grants assisted in re-opening Liberian schools Feb. 16. National Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) and the WMU Foundation made the grants from the Humanitarian Emergency Aid for Rebuilding Tomorrow (HEART) Fund to provide assistance as Liberia recovers from the Ebola crisis.
“Schools have been shut down for seven months. This gift ignites renewed hope in a seemingly hopeless situation,” explained Olu Menjay, principal of Ricks Institute, a Baptist school in Liberia that serves more than 600 children in kindergarten through high school.
Ricks Institute will receive $35,000 of the HEART Fund grant to provide meals for its boarding school students. According to Menjay, it costs approximately $5 per day to feed a student at Ricks. The grant will cover meals for the first month that school is in session.


WMU photo
More than 600 children attend Ricks Institute in Liberia. 


The Marla Corts School and the Dellanna O’Brien School, both located in rural Liberian villages, will receive $9,000 to help them comply with new safety protocols designed to control the spread of disease. All schools will be required to use chlorinated water and soap, monitor temperatures using thermometers, and wear uniforms that leave less skin exposed.
The number of Ebola cases has significantly declined in recent weeks, leading the Liberian government to re-open schools. More than 3,500 Liberians have died from Ebola since the outbreak began last year. Many families faced unemployment and a desperate hunger crisis. Re-opening schools is a significant step in moving forward after Ebola.
“Although returning to school is a great sign of improvement, many Liberians have been unemployed for months,” explained David George, president of the WMU Foundation. “There will be a number of financial needs, and these grants will help meet some of those needs.”
At the height of the Ebola crisis last fall, the WMU Foundation partnered with Liberians in Birmingham Alabama to pack a shipping container with rice, beans, and other dry goods to send to Liberia. The food arrived in Monrovia, Liberia, in December, and an emergency response team from the Liberia Baptist Missionary and Educational Convention began distributing the food to families in need.
“We opened our hearts and our arms to our friends in Liberia. We want to send our prayers but also provide something tangible,” said WMU Foundation board member Judith Edwards.
The WMU Foundation will continue collecting financial gifts to provide food for children at Ricks Institute. “We’ve had a great partnership with Liberian Baptists for many years, and we remain committed to helping in meaningful ways,” George said.

3/10/2015 9:07:19 AM by Candice Lee, WMU Foundation | with 0 comments

Missions in postmodern culture WMU focus

January 21 2015 by Julie Walters, Baptist Press

Equipping leaders, preparing children for missional living and focusing on small church ministries will be Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) priorities through 2018, WMU Executive Director Wanda S. Lee announced at the group’s 2015 board meeting.
The national WMU “will focus on equipping for missional living in as many different formats and avenues as possible,” Lee said, outlining leadership development and training opportunities planned the current fiscal year.
“We believe WMU can reshape the way we develop curriculum and guide teachers in their experiences with children and youth to help shape a stronger generation for faith and service,” Lee said.
As a result of a visioning trip to the Nordic cluster in 2013 in partnership with the International Mission Board (IMB) to learn more about postmodernism, Lee said WMU “must take the lead in preparing our children and youth for living in a postmodern culture … for knowing what they believe and how to share their faith in this culture, and for determining the truths of scripture that never change when everything around them is changing.”


Regarding small churches, Lee said WMU will help smaller congregations develop missions discipleship programs for all ages, noting approximately 90 percent of Southern Baptist churches have 250 members or less.
“WMU works well in the small church,” Lee said, “a church with a pastor and maybe another part-time staff member … a church that values the gifts of its laypeople and cannot succeed without them in planning and taking the lead in ministry.”
Addressing faith issues in the midst of trauma will be addressed through WMU’s Project HELP emphasis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
“We will continue to seek ways to address the issues of post-traumatic stress our children are now faced with,” Lee said, “from violence in our schools, to effects of war on families, to the response needed in our churches.”
Through Project HELP, WMU identifies a social and moral issue and supports national projects to encourage churches to address it. Since the launch of Project HELP in 1994–1995, WMU has focused on a variety of universal problems including hunger, poverty, HIV/AIDS and racial injustice.
The 150 people in attendance at the Jan. 10-12 WMU Executive Board meeting at the Shocco Springs Conference Center in Talladega, Ala., included WMU board members, state and national WMU staff members and guests.
Speakers included National WMU President Debby Akerman, North American Mission Board President Kevin Ezell, IMB President David Platt, and several active missionaries.
In her presidential address, Akerman encouraged state WMU leaders to actively assist churches in starting new WMU missions organizations.
“We produce the finest curricula and resources available for missions information, missions education and missions discipleship,” she said. “We must not sit silent. We must take a stand and help our churches take missions discipleship to the next level for next generations.”
In other business, the board members awarded $230,000 in endowments, grants and scholarships in partnership with the WMU Foundation; adopted overarching plans for WMU work in churches 2016-2018, and replaced the title of Women on Mission planner with Women on Mission leader, effective in September 2015.
Board members also extended through 2016 an emphasis on PTSD as the Project HELP focus issue, approved $175 million as the 2015 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering goal, and approved $70 million as the 2016 Annie Armstrong Easter Offering goal.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Julie Walters is WMU corporate communications team leader.)

1/21/2015 11:37:15 AM by Julie Walters, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

WMU leader Carolyn Weatherford Crumpler dies at 84

January 6 2015 by Baptist Press staff

Carolyn Weatherford Crumpler’s desire to dedicate herself to Christian service is one that lasted until the day of her death on Jan. 2. Her joyful spirit and cheerful attitude will be sorely missed by those who knew her. She served as executive director of national Women’s Missionary Union (WMU) from 1974 to 1989.
Mattie Carolyn Weatherford was born to farmers Rufus Clark and Doris Elizabeth Sansing Weatherford on Jan. 17, 1930. The Weatherfords made their home in Frostproof, Fla., but were in House, Miss., when their daughter was born. Crumpler grew up in a household devoted to missions, as her mother involved Crumpler and her siblings in as many activities as their Baptist church offered.
She professed Christ when she was 12, and following the example of her mother, a Girls in Action (GA) leader, Crumpler became a GA counselor by the time she was 14. Her service at such a young age did not go unnoticed by visiting WMU leaders, and at the age of 16, with the invitation of a Florida WMU state officer, Crumpler and a friend were off to Ridgecrest, N.C., for a young women’s conference.



Carolyn Weatherford Crumpler

Crumpler taught her community’s first Vacation Bible School, and, as a junior in high school, she became the associational officer for Baptist Training Union (BTU), later serving as her church’s BTU director for all age groups. She added adult choir director to her list of activities.
Crumpler studied library science at Florida State University, and was a high school librarian for five years. However, her desire to commit to Christian service on a full-time basis would not subside, so she entered New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary where she earned a master’s degree in religious education. Crumpler began her career with WMU in 1958 after being denied foreign missionary candidacy because of hypertension. Crumpler did not let that stop her from serving in WMU.


From 1961 to 1963, she worked with GAs through Florida WMU, and from 1963 to 1967, she served in Alabama as WMU promotion director. Next, she took on the position of executive director of Florida WMU.
After representing Southern Baptists in the Women’s Continental Assembly of 1972, Crumpler became chief executive of national WMU. During her tenure, she coauthored “My Life More Fit for Him,” a book on physical and spiritual well-being, with staff member Barbara Massey, and wrote a number of other works.
“When Carolyn was elected as executive director, she came with years of experience in state WMU work,” reflected Wanda S. Lee, executive director of national WMU. “Working with a board composed of many state staff members, she brought an understanding of the challenges of their work and fresh ideas for new ways to work together. She laid a strong foundation for the partnership that exists today between the national office and our state WMU partners. Her love for missions and missionaries will continue to inspire all of us who lead today to stay faithful to the purpose of WMU.”
During the years she led national WMU, the organization experienced growth in church missions organizations; began several initiatives including Acteens Activators, Baptist Nursing Fellowship and New Hope Publishers; and moved from downtown Birmingham to its current location at 100 Missionary Ridge.
She had an intense desire to help children of missionaries (MKs), and invited many of them to dinner at her house when they were in Birmingham for school. Starting in 1980, she served on the Baptist World Alliance’s (BWA) General Council and became chairman of the Baptist World Aid Committee in 1985. She attended BWA meetings faithfully, and was the first woman to chair the North American Baptist Fellowship.
When she became president of the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary National Alumni Association, 1984–85, she became the first woman to chair a Southern Baptist seminary’s alumni association (other than the WMU Training School/Carver School of Missions at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary). She was awarded honorary doctorates from William Carey College, Mobile College, Campbell University, Georgetown College and Houston Baptist University.
In 1989, Crumpler retired from WMU and married James Joseph (“Joe”) Crumpler, a widower who was then pastor of Mt. Carmel Baptist Church, Cincinnati, Ohio. She moved to Cincinnati and continued to be active in missions work, both nationally and with local ministries in the Cincinnati area. After her retirement, Crumpler became involved with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, serving as moderator in 1995-96.
In recent years, despite many health problems, Crumpler remained active in missions and sharing the love of Christ. She is survived by her husband and a host of family members.
Visitation will be Jan. 23, 4:30-7:30 p.m. at Mt. Carmel Baptist Church, 8645 Kenwood Road, Cincinnati, Ohio. The family will also receive visitors at the church on Jan. 24 at 9:30-10:30 a.m., prior to a memorial service at 11 a.m.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – This story was submitted by the WMU communications team. Baptist Press contributed to this article.)


1/6/2015 10:26:49 AM by Baptist Press staff | with 0 comments

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 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

(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 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

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