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Taking the lead: WMU-NC at top of missions game
Dianna L. Cagle, BR Asst. Managing Editor
August 25, 2010
5 MIN READ TIME

Taking the lead: WMU-NC at top of missions game

Taking the lead: WMU-NC at top of missions game
Dianna L. Cagle, BR Asst. Managing Editor
August 25, 2010

Staying true to missions.

That’s how Woman’s Missionary Union of North Carolina (WMU-NC) has stayed at the top in enrollment

among Baptist state conventions affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention

(SBC).

“We have a lot of people who

want to start it because it’s what they grew up with,” said Ruby Fulbright,

WMU-NC executive director-treasurer. “It’s been good.”

In a report of statistical

leaders released recently, WMU-NC leads the nation in enrollment. It is the

only church program area in which North Carolina was listed as a national

leader.

The 2009 SBC statistics list

WMU-NC’s enrollment at 99,041, topping Georgia (81,249), Alabama (72,324),

South Carolina (73,284), and Texas (60,784 — which includes both conventions).

In 2009 WMU-NC added 149

groups in 69 churches, and “more and more churches” are including WMU-NC in their

budgets, Fulbright said.

BR photo by Dianna L. Cagle

Ruby Fulbright

Fulbright estimated

2,500-2,600 BSC churches have WMU in some “fashion” — in other words, the

church might have Girls in Action or GAs and Women on Mission. WMU offers

missions education for all ages. They do not keep figures for total number of

organizations.

WMU-NC partners with other

churches to promote missions education.

More than 300 churches

affiliated with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina have some

form of WMU-NC. They have even helped Methodist and Presbyterian churches with

basic curriculum.

Fulbright credits

“listening” for WMU-NC’s growth. Before and during the move out of the BSC

staff building in 2008, leaders listened to pastors, director of missions and

women across the state to find out what they wanted in WMU-NC.

She describes the response

as “amazing.”

Through the turmoil

In North Carolina, Fulbright

and WMU-NC have been on a “demanding, soul-searching, sometimes painful”

journey since they exercised their autonomy and assumed total responsibility

for their payroll and program.

“Our biggest struggle is

financial but continually God provides,” Fulbright said

In 2009, WMU-NC dipped into

its reserves but so far in 2010, they’ve met budget, despite a harsh winter and

cancelled church services during WMU emphasis week. At its annual meeting in

April, WMU-NC cut its budget 10 percent, freezing salaries and decreasing staff

benefits.

In spite of cutbacks

employees have stayed, and volunteer leaders have taken on more responsibility

within the organization.

Fulbright said the “show of

dedication and commitment to our cause … is comforting … even when they’re not

sure if the paychecks coming.”

Fulbright has been surprised

through the whole ordeal to learn “the whole world is watching.” She’s received

notes from outside North Carolina saying: “We’re watching to see how you are

handling this.

Fulbright often says, “We’re

building this airplane while we fly.”

“Our faith is more authentic

when the world sees us live it out day by day in relationships, work, on good

and bad days,” Fulbright said.

Unlikely leader

Moving from place to place

while growing up, Fulbright said her family were members of missions-minded

churches. She was at GA camp in Texas when she felt called to missions.

She and her husband, Ellis

Sr., were missionaries with the International Mission Board.

“I believe so much in what

we do because of all the support we received as missionaries,” she said. And it

is missionaries she sees as the biggest supporters of WMU-NC.

For a long time, Fulbright

declined the leader position, feeling she was not executive director-treasurer

material. In May, Fulbright passed her eighth year as leader of WMU-NC.

She said the challenge then

and now is the same: “wanting to engage more people in missions.”

WMU-NC faces the same image

challenge as national WMU. Fulbright emphasizes that WMU “is not little old

women sitting around reading a magazine.”

The wise counsel of God and

Christian brothers and sisters has always been important to Fulbright. She’s

seen many women who “have stood strong for us” in spite of opposition. She sees

women finding creative ways to be involved, and she appreciates the support of

certain pastors, directors of missions and fellow missionaries.

Planning celebration

WMU-NC is getting ready to

celebrate a special anniversary. On Jan. 8, 2011, the organization will be 125

years old. A special celebration is planned in connection with its annual

Missions Extravaganza at Ridgecrest Conference Center. April 8-10. WMU-NC will

share a 125-day prayer guide in commemoration of the event.

Heck-Jones Offering

The harsh winter kept many

churches from meeting during the WMU Focus Week and some plans to highlight the

offering were postponed or cancelled. The Heck-Jones Offering that supports

WMU-NC has suffered.

Through July, offering

income was approximately $289,000 toward the 2010 goal of $1.3 million.

Offering materials are available at (866) 210-8602 or [email protected].

What’s happening?

WMU-NC spent five weekends

from May through July on college campuses training around 350 associational

leaders.

They stayed in the dorms and

shared bathrooms at Chowan, Gardner-Webb, Wingate and Campbell universities and

Mars Hill College.

“It was kind of fun,”

Fulbright said.

This summer women have been

on mission trips to New York, Massachusetts, and Raleigh.

WMU-NC is developing its

professional and young women’s networks.

The young women’s network is related

to SHINE efforts.

Jan High, leadership

development consultant, has been integral in helping with the professional

women.

Eastern and western events

are in the works for professional women.

WMU-NC has names and contact

information for about 100 women across the state who have expressed interest in

this network.

“Right now we are still

trying to get things geared up,” High said.

Contact (919) 882-2344, ext.

206, or [email protected].

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