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
“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
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.
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
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
“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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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].
WMU-NC spent five weekends
from May through July on college campuses training around 350 associational
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,”
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
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
“Right now we are still
trying to get things geared up,” High said.
Contact (919) 882-2344, ext.
206, or [email protected].