by Julie Walters
TALLADEGA, Ala. (BP) — Equipping leaders, preparing children for missional living and focusing on small church ministries will be Woman’s Missionary Union priorities through 2018, WMU Executive Director Wanda S. Lee announced at the group’s 2015 board meeting.
The national WMU “will focus on equipping for missional living in as many different formats and avenues as possible,” Lee said, outlining leadership development and training opportunities planned the current fiscal year.
“We believe WMU can reshape the way we develop curriculum and guide teachers in their experiences with children and youth to help shape a stronger generation for faith and service,” Lee said.
As a result of a visioning trip to the Nordic cluster in 2013 in partnership with the International Mission Board to learn more about postmodernism, Lee said WMU “must take the lead in preparing our children and youth for living in a postmodern culture … for knowing what they believe and how to share their faith in this culture, and for determining the truths of Scripture that never change when everything around them is changing.”
Regarding small churches, Lee said WMU will help smaller congregations develop missions discipleship programs for all ages, noting approximately 90 percent of Southern Baptist churches have 250 members or less.
“WMU works well in the small church,” Lee said, “a church with a pastor and maybe another part-time staff member … a church that values the gifts of its laypeople and cannot succeed without them in planning and taking the lead in ministry.”
Addressing faith issues in the midst of trauma will be addressed through WMU’s Project HELP emphasis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
“We will continue to seek ways to address the issues of post-traumatic stress our children are now faced with,” Lee said, “from violence in our schools, to effects of war on families, to the response needed in our churches.”
Through Project HELP, WMU identifies a social and moral issue and supports national projects to encourage churches to address it. Since the launch of Project HELP in 1994–1995, WMU has focused on a variety of universal problems including hunger, poverty, HIV/AIDS and racial injustice.
The 150 people in attendance at the Jan. 10-12 WMU Executive Board meeting at the Shocco Springs Conference Center in Talladega, Ala., included WMU board members, state and national WMU staff members and guests.
Speakers included National WMU President Debby Akerman, North American Mission Board President Kevin Ezell, IMB President David Platt, and several active missionaries.
In her presidential address, Akerman encouraged state WMU leaders to actively assist churches in starting new WMU missions organizations.
“We produce the finest curricula and resources available for missions information, missions education and missions discipleship,” she said. “We must not sit silent. We must take a stand and help our churches take missions discipleship to the next level for next generations.”
In other business, the board members awarded $230,000 in endowments, grants and scholarships in partnership with the WMU Foundation; adopted overarching plans for WMU work in churches 2016–2018, and replaced the title of Women on Mission planner with Women on Mission leader, effective in September 2015.
Board members also extended through 2016 an emphasis on PTSD as the Project HELP focus issue, approved $175 million as the 2015 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering goal, and approved $70 million as the 2016 Annie Armstrong Easter Offering goal.
Julie Walters is WMU corporate communications team leader.
Reprinted from Baptist Press (www.baptistpress.com).
Baptist Press (BP) is the official news service of the Southern Baptist Convention and provides news to the 42 state Baptist papers. BP reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on news related to Southern Baptists’ concerns nationally and globally.