Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) has been about missions from the beginning, and that has not changed. As always, missions was at the forefront as more than 600 North Carolina Baptist women and other guests gathered at First Baptist Church of Greensboro March 24-25 to celebrate WMU-NC‘s annual “Missions Extravaganza” through the theme “By All Means.”
In addition to numerous breakout sessions on various topics, participants gathered for four joint sessions. Primary worship leaders were Linda Cooper from Kentucky, national WMU president, and Ruth Ripken, a missionary who worked for years in various African countries before becoming a global advocate for persecuted believers and house-church planting. She and her husband Nik are featured in a documentary film, The Insanity of God, based on a book Nik authored about their experience. Cindy Johnson of Stage 2 Ministries led the worship music.
Cooper’s enthusiastic presentations highlighted everyday opportunities for sharing the love of Christ with others, no matter what their background or where they are encountered. She spoke of opportunities stretching from the dentist office where she works, to social ministries through her church, to visits with undercover missionaries in a country where open evangelism is against the law. She challenged participants who live in a free country to freely share the gospel with others.
Ripkin recounted how she felt called to Africa from age 12, and told inspiring stories from her work in Malawi, where both she and her husband contracted malaria; in South Africa, where they lived in a Xhosa village that helped to raise their children; and in Kenya and other places, where they worked closely with Somali refugees who suffer extensively for their faith. Since then, the Ripkins have traveled the globe, interviewing persecuted believers and promoting the planting of house churches. Ripkin emphasized that the body of Christ extends worldwide, and believers in America should show concern for believers around the globe through persistent prayer.
Amy Boone, a former missionary in South Africa who now serves as executive director-treasurer of the North Carolina WMU organization, noted that Missions Extravaganza often comes on the weekend between the NC Baptist Men’s annual Missions Conference and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of NC meetings, making it difficult for many participants to attend. She recommended that future dates shift to the last weekend in April, offering scheduling consistency and fewer conflicts. Participants approved the motion. As a result, the 2018 meeting will be April 27-28, 2018.
In her executive director’s report, Boone noted that she had been installed at the previous year’s meeting, and highlighted resources WMU-NC has available to WMU-related church groups for all ages.
Denise “Dee Dee” Moody of Salisbury was re-elected as president, and Deborah Taylor of Lumberton as vice president. Mary Ellen Bowman of Wilmington continues as vice president of development. Barbara Hill of Statesboro is recording secretary, and Beth McDonald of Rockingham is assistant recording secretary. Board members for each of nine regional groups were also elected.
The organization approved a 2017 budget of $645,000, down from the previous year’s $706,000 spending plan. Income for the year was not reported.
Bob Navey was recognized for 25 years of service as director of Camp Mundo Vista, near Asheville.