RIDGECREST — “WMU has brought the house down,” Ruby Fulbright quipped March 20 during the first session of the annual meeting of the Woman’s Missionary Union of North Carolina (WMU-NC).
Actually, the outside ceiling covering the porch of the registration building at LifeWay’s Ridgecrest Conference Center collapsed a little more than two hours earlier. No one was seriously injured.
Lasting March 20-22, 925 ladies attended many breakout sessions to learn about missions near and far and tips for doing WMU better for various age groups. Registration opened at 1 p.m. March 20 with two breakout sessions before dinner.
“It’s about loving Him and loving them,” said Haven Parrott, featured speaker. Each of the sessions for Missions Extravaganza focused on the “Called to Love” theme based on Matt. 22:37-39.
Parrott, discipleship and outreach coordinator for First Baptist Church in Kannapolis, said “real life begins with Christ” and warned about the “fiercest enemy” — religion.
“It is in the relationship to Him that we begin to resemble Him,” said Parrott, who led sessions over the weekend. “We sometimes live as if God had given us a great command and a great idea,” with the great command being to love God and the great idea being to love others.
But both are commands, Parrott said, and both involve death.
“Death to our convenience, comfort, claim on our time, money and … death to purposelessness, selfishness,” she said.
In spite of the fun and learning that took place, Parrott reminded the participants that
“God has not saved us for conference Christianity. He has saved us for confrontational Christianity.”
More work is ahead for the ladies. The reason for the retreat is to advance, said Parrott, using military terminology to explain.
“There is work left to do,” she said, encouraging them to exhibit tough love in their relationships, a love that is not about how they feel.
- Regardless love
- Relentless love
- Redemptive love
WMU-NC ended 2008 in the black in spite of not meeting its $1.2 million Heck-Jones Offering goal in 2008.
In fact, the organization finished with a $71,557 net loss based solely on 2008 income.
There was enough money in the bank to make up the difference.
“We are encouraged about how we ended the 2008 year,” said Beth Beam, “considering that the Woman’s Missionary Union of North Carolina did not receive the North Carolina Missions Offering (NCMO).”
The Baptist State Convention (BSC) removed WMU-NC from its NCMO offering in 2008 when the relationship between the two organizations officially changed.
Beam, who represented the finance committee, WMU-NC needs $110,000 monthly to meet its budget.
The 2009 budget of $1.3 million includes new ministries including poverty initiatives, Summerfest, family missions as well as military ministry.
The new officers for 2009: Delores Thomas, president; Tana Hartsell, vice president; Chris Harker, vice president of development; Tammi Ward, recording secretary; and Beth McDonald, assistant recording secretary.
Harker’s position was a new addition to the bylaws. Instead of a second vice president, which was standard before, the WMU-NC added the vice president of development because of the need of the organization to have someone who can help raise money. The new position will not be in line for the presidency and is not limited by term.
Two listening sessions offered March 20 allowed delegates to learn about changes to the WMU-NC’s articles of incorporation and bylaws that were voted on March 21.
Wendy Case, part of the WMU-NC executive board, led the listening sessions March 20, which she said were well-attended.
Making the changes was a four-year process mainly cleaning up wording and making sure policy is in sync with bylaws. Some of the changes were brought about by a change in relationship to the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC).
In the Articles of Incorporation:
- changes age of voting delegates from 16 to 18
- removes requirement that delegates have to be from BSC churches
- changes address of headquarters to current location
- corrects legal name in document
Case said if you participate in a WMU group, you’re a member but to be a voting delegate you have to be registered at the meeting and 18 or older.
The first change in the bylaws adds a membership definition, which was required by the national WMU.
“We made a change in our relationship,” Case said veering the conversation to the bylaw changes. “We wanted to continue indicating a partnership with the Baptist State Convention.”
In the past the BSC did not like the term cooperative partner in the WMU-NC’s relationships section, Case said. Now the wording reads “laborers together in Christian work with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina …”.
“We haven’t changed the work,” Case said. “Co-laborers is our national watchword. We didn’t change our mission. We didn’t change our relationship.”
The number of at-large members to the Executive Board (30) increased as did the number allowed to be elected each year (10). Case said the reason is that members of the nominating committee now are part of the Board.
Because of the relationship change, BSC staff members can now serve on the WMU-NC Executive Board.
Since the relationship change between the BSC, Case said the WMU-NC will still complete an annual report but will not be required to send it. The report will be available upon request.
“Nothing we did was earth-shattering,” Case said. “It hasn’t changed but it made it more clear.”
During the March 21 business session, no opposition was voiced to any of the changes or items up for approval.
Fulbright, in her report to the delegates, said WMU-NC started 158 new organizations in 79 churches and that all events were well attended.
“Every element of involvement … every event held reflects people and relationships,” Fulbright said. “At the very core of Christian faith is relationships. Building relationships is how Jesus did ministry.”
Fulbright recognized the deaf women who were joining the Missions Extravaganza for the 25th year. She also praised her staff for their unique gifts.
“I’m really blessed to be their leader,” she said.
Sandra James called her time as president challenging and frustrating and “much more.”
“So much more because of people like you,” James said. “We were not only seeking God’s will but we were discovering new opportunities and new doors.”
Incoming president Thomas encouraged the ladies toward a missional mindset.
“It’s not just enough to go around the world. You need to go next door,” she said.
An offering taken during the meeting raised more than $9,500 for the Heck-Jones offering.