By Karen McGettrick
Go Forward was the theme of the WMU Missions Celebration and Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, June 8-9, 2014. Attending from Iowa were Joni Wilkinson, Wilma Faulkner, and Karen McGettrick.
Commissioning Service for NAMB and IMB Missionaries
We were transfixed as missionary children led the Parade of Flags. Following them were flags from all over the world. Next came the torches. 102 missionaries from home and abroad followed. It had been 25 years since a commissioning service was held for both IMB and NAMB missionaries. The choir from Colonial Baptist Church, Baltimore, led the music. “We’ve a Story to Tell to the Nations,” our GA hymn, was sung as the processional. Native Praise, a women’s chorus from Oklahoma, provided special music. Many of the songs were in native tongues from various American Indian tribes. The missionaries each gave a short testimony. Among them were Gilmer and Ethel Mauricio, who are planting a Spanish-speaking congregation in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. International Missions Board President Tom Elliff gave the Charge to Missionaries and North American Mission Board Kevin Ezell, gave the Charge to the Church. It was an amazing experience.
Tour of Annie Armstrong’s Baltimore
Twelve buses packed with WMU ladies left the Baltimore Harbor Hotel. The first stop was Federal Hill Park where Annie Armstrong prayed over the people coming to the U.S. through this harbor. We celebrated the 125th anniversary of WMU at Woodbrook Baptist Church (formerly Eutaw Place Baptist Church) with cookies and lemonade. We visited the gravesite of Annie Armstrong and other family members at Greenmount Cemetery. We drove by Annie’s home church where she taught the infants class and led a Mothers’ Club for underprivileged women. We drove by the corner of Pratt and Calvert Street where Annie lived over her father’s tobacco shop. Today it is a busy intersection across from the harbor.
WMU Missions Celebration
Rosalie Hunt, dramatist and recording secretary for national WMU, portrayed early WMU leader Ann Baker Graves who challenged women to give 2 cents a week to missions. She also portrayed Kathleen Mallory, a 20th Century WMU leader who, in 1932, led in guaranteeing missionaries salaries through WMU offerings, keeping missionaries on the field. Taylor Field of Graffiti Church in New York City challenged us to be “light, not lightning.” Another IMB missionary couple encouraged us to win souls with hospitality.
Debby Akerman was reelected president and Linda Cooper, recording secretary. Ginger Smith, Executive Director of the Mission Centers of Houston, was awarded the Dellanna West O’Brien Award for Women’s Leadership 2014. This award recognizes Baptist women who are outstanding leaders in their community and their world and demonstrate the ability to foster leadership in other women. The award is accompanied by a $2,000 grant to allow the recipient to continue her ministry to others.
A Charge from Annie
Annie Armstrong worked tirelessly encouraging people to give to missions. She traveled thousands of miles and wrote many letters. (It was called mail!) Today we can still learn from her. “Let us ‘Go forward’ into the new year with faith strengthened by a glimpse into our past God-directed history; with courage strong to bear the burdens of today, knowing that Christ is with us ‘all the days’; and with hopes high because we are a part of that plan of the ages which shall sooner or later usher in the kingdom of our Lord.” (Annie Armstrong, 1903)