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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.”

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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.

 

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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.


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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.

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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.

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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.
 

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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?”

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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.”
 
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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.
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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. 
 
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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



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