For the first time since January 2020, the board of WMU, SBC met in person for the organization’s January Board Meeting.
More than 200 WMU leaders along with guests from the North American Mission Board, International Mission Board, the WMU Foundation, Baptist Nursing Fellowship, and others gathered at national WMU in Birmingham, January 7–9.
Over the weekend, 23 different conferences and a host of interactive activities offered participants the opportunity to hear from missions personnel and learn more about a variety of topics such as age-level missions discipleship, resources WMU provides related to mental health, leadership development, and more.
Dr. Willie McLaurin, interim president and CEO of the SBC Executive Committee, led a conference entitled “Reigniting Your Passion” on Saturday and preached the sermon on Sunday morning.
With Romans 12:12 woven throughout the general sessions on Sunday and Monday, missionary speakers and others gave testimonies related to being joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
Attendees heard personal and inspiring testimonies based on this Scripture from a number of speakers, including Itamar Elizalde, NAMB missionary serving in Puerto Rico, and Jeff “Wally” and Rose Waligora, who have been serving with the IMB for 25 years.
As Dr. Kevin Ezell, president of the North American Mission Board, brought a report to the group during lunch on Sunday, he encouraged, “Thank you for everything you do to pray for and raise awareness about our missionaries. No one is a better friend to them than WMU. Every day, they are starting new churches and pointing people to faith and what you do helps make that happen.”
Dr. Todd Lafferty, executive vice president of the International Mission Board, gave a report during the evening meal and also expressed gratitude.
“Thank you, Woman’s Missionary Union for walking with us in our fields, praying for us diligently, raising support on our behalf energetically, and giving to support your missionaries sacrificially,” Lafferty said. “Since 1888, you have been at the forefront of encouraging, motivating, and exhorting, when needed, our churches to stay focused on the Great Commission. You have trained countless generations of missionaries, beginning at quite young ages. And my prayer is that our churches would look to you to reimagine what that could look like in our generation.”
National WMU President Connie Dixon encouraged participants to recall, recommit and reinvest.
“We need to recall the heroines of WMU such as Annie and Lottie, but we also need to remember the individuals who were instrumental in our own lives — those who inspired you and taught you about missions,” Dixon said. “We need to recommit and remember that the next great WMU heroine may be sitting in this room, or in your GA group!
“And we need to reinvest in the future of WMU,” she continued. “We can’t just coast. We need to do whatever it takes to assure every man, woman and child is taught missions discipleship — that we are constantly training up leaders for tomorrow in missions and sharing the importance of praying and giving to support our missionaries.”
David George, president of the WMU Foundation, honored Rosalie Hunt — who has served as a WMU Foundation board member, national WMU recording secretary, and IMB missionary — by establishing an award in her honor. Hunt was present to be the first recipient of the Rosalie Hunt Devoted Patron Award. This award will be given annually to recognize those WMU Foundation patrons who are faithful to their missions passion, consistently giving and demonstrating steadfast loyalty to making an impact through their gifts.
Sandy Wisdom-Martin, executive director-treasurer of national WMU, told about the life of an inspirational friend and missionary who was a gifted pianist. As she recounted the life and ministry of her friend Marge, Wisdom-Martin applied facts about pianos to the Christian faith.
She stated a piano has more than 10,000 moving parts. “You and I have 10,000 moving parts as well, yet we serve an audience of One,” Wisdom-Martin said.
A standard piano has about 230 strings, each with about 165 pounds of tension. The combined tension of the strings is more than 18 tons, and for a concert grand piano, that number increases to more than 30 tons.
“Nothing is wasted in Kingdom economy even in the midst of 30 tons of tension,” Wisdom-Martin said. “Though it does not feel like it at the time, the tension with which we live our lives only makes our sound that much richer and fuller.”
The third quality of a piano she shared is that every piano has a mechanism that moves the hammers back to their original position as soon as they touch the string. Without this mechanism, the hammers would simply sit on the strings and dampen the sound.
“As WMU leaders, we need to do everything with excellence as unto the Lord,” Wisdom-Martin challenged. “Each one of us have been created for God’s purposes. Let tension have its full effect in our lives and align our will with the Father’s each and every day. Please don’t be satisfied with muted notes here and there when you were meant to reverberate with all eternity.”
In their business session, the executive board:
- Approved the audit report for year-end Sept. 30, 2022.
- Approved $200 million as the goal for the 2023 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.
- Approved $75 million as the goal for the 2024 Annie Armstrong Easter Offering.
The next scheduled WMU board meeting will be in June 2023.
Julie Walters is corporate communications manager for national WMU. Photo by Tia Underbakke.