In 1901, a newspaper article asked, “An Open Door: Who Will Enter It?” The article continued, “When boys grow too old for Sunbeam Band, they begin to drift. They are the future of the church. Who will provide leadership?”
National WMU® had been hesitant to address an organization for boys. Early WMU leaders feared criticism and difficulties if they went into those uncharted waters.
However, in 1906, WMU President Fannie Heck began to ask the difficult questions about what should be provided for boys who had outgrown Sunbeams. Along the way, Miss Heck did face opposition, both inside and outside WMU. However, she courageously pushed forward with a move to begin an organization for boys. And, in 1908, Royal Ambassadors® was born.
Many years later, in the 1950s, a decision was made to transition RAs to the Brotherhood Commission (of the Southern Baptist Convention). In 1957 that transition was complete. Over the years, RAs moved to the Home Mission Board and then to the North American Mission Board.
In March 2011, the announcement was made that RAs and Challengers® (the organization for teenaged boys) was coming back to WMU. Or, as we like to say, “The Boys are Back!” From the time of the announcement until September 1, 2012, the transition will continue to take place. Decisions have to be made, manuscripts have to be written, training has to take place, and dozens of other things will take place between now and September.
National WMU is excited about the return of RAs and Challengers! In the weeks and months ahead, you’ll hear much more about the return of missions educations for boys to WMU. As you have questions, please drop us a note and we’ll try to help.
M. Steve Heartsill