ALPHARETTA, Ga. — North American Mission Board (NAMB) leaders
announced March 2 they plan to partner with Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) for
day-to-day operations of the Royal Ambassadors (RA) missions education
organization for boys in grades one through six.
The announcement follows NAMB’s recent organizational restructuring made to
support the entity’s “Send North America” strategy to assist Southern Baptists
in reaching North America through mobilizing and equipping churches and
missionaries for evangelistic church planting.
A statement from Ruby Fulbright, executive
director/treasurer of WMU-NC, expressed excitement over working with North
Carolina Baptist Men with the RAs.
“The women of WMU and especially of WMU-NC, have long
cherished the obligation and privilege of educating boys and girls in missions
involvement, support and learning,” said Fulbright.
The first RA chapter (Carey Newton Chapter) was begun at
First Baptist Church in Goldsboro.
“We believe missions education is a key part of equipping
churches for reaching North America — and the world — for Christ,” said Kevin
Ezell, NAMB’s president. “This partnership means churches will continue to
receive top-quality material and it allows us to utilize WMU’s expertise and
singular focus in this area.”
NAMB will maintain its missions education ministry assignment, will continue to
operate its Baptist Men’s ministry work and will maintain close ties with the
development of Royal Ambassadors curriculum.
Wanda Lee, national executive director and treasurer of WMU (Woman’s Missionary
Union), noted that RAs began with WMU.
“RAs was born out of our heart and our soul,” Lee said. “We gave it lovingly to
the (SBC’s former) Brotherhood Commission. Now we welcome them back and pledge
our support and partnership with both mission boards to continue the work as
best we can.”
By 1918, Southern Baptists had established 1,200 chapters. In 1957,
responsibilities for RAs transferred to the Brotherhood Commission, which in
1997 became part of the newly formed North American Mission Board.
Richard Brunson, N.C. Baptist Men executive director-treasurer,
said he and his staff are also looking forward to National WMU producing
missions education materials for RAs and Challengers groups.
“Because of the excellence WMU has shown in missions
education materials, we feel this will greatly strengthen existing RA and
Challengers programs in our North Carolina churches,” he said. “This will make
it much easier for churches to start or strengthen RAs and GAs because they
will have coordinated missions curriculum and emphasis.”
In addition to a more coordinated missions emphasis, the
transition allows churches to order all their children and youth missions
education materials from a single source. Brunson said N.C. Baptist Men will
continue offering all the statewide RAs and Challengers events, projects,
trainings and camps they now provide.
“North Carolina is one of the top states in the nation in
Royal Ambassadors and Challengers programs with many dedicated leaders. N.C.
Baptist Men, as we are called upon by churches to coordinate activities with
both state and national WMU, is glad to work together for the purpose of
missions education,” Brunson said. We have a very good relationship with WMU
and we anticipate this giving us even more opportunities to work together to
provide North Carolina churches with the best missions education possible for
their children and youth.”
NAMB shared the intent to partner with WMU at the annual
Missions Education Roundtable meeting, March 1-2 at NAMB’s office building in
Alpharetta, Ga. Missions education coordinators from 28 Baptist state
conventions attended the sessions and had opportunity to discuss the planned
partnership. Lee and other WMU staff members from Birmingham, Ala., were on
hand to answer questions and discuss the transition.
Specifics of the partnership — which will also include the Challengers program
for teenage boys — have yet to be determined.
“The idea for this partnership came from our desire for RAs and Challengers to
flourish,” said Mike Ebert, NAMB vice president of communications. “We looked
across the state line in Alabama and saw some friends who can do it very well
and are very well equipped to do it.”
NAMB and WMU are working toward finalizing the partnership and related
transitions in time for the September 2012 curriculum delivery.
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