JEFFERSON CITY – Kentucky-based National Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) President Linda Cooper delivered several inspiring messages to 312 registered Missouri WMU members and guests at the 2017 Missouri WMU Annual Meeting and Missions Celebration held April 7-8 at the First Baptist Church in Lebanon.
Several other distinguished speakers helped to make the event memorable, including Dr. John Yeats and Dr. Matt Kearns, Missouri Baptist Convention’s Director and Making Disciples Catalyst, respectively, and Wanda Shellenberger, Missouri Baptist Children’s Home Women’s Ministry Specialist.
“We were fortunate to have such interesting and diverse speakers participating in the Mission Celebration this year,” said Laura Wells, Missouri WMU Executive Director/Consultant. “The entire program was planned to richly bless the attendees and I believe we accomplished that goal.”
Testimonies from missionaries, breakout sessions, worship music and a variety of ministry projects rounded out the two-day event, making the Missions Celebration a truly rewarding experience.
“This year’s Missouri WMU Annual Meeting and Missions Celebration was outstanding,” said Cherri Crump, Missouri WMU President. “The guest speakers were very engaging and the breakout sessions were very timely. I believe the attendees left inspired and encouraged.”
Cooper captivated the audience with her southern charm and heart-stirring testimonies, which served to reinforce the National WMU scripture verse, 1 Corinthians 22b-23, and the theme, By All Means.
Those attending were especially moved by the story she shared of Skeeter, a homeless young man who, by God’s grace and amazing plan, turned his life around after a near-death experience at the bottom of a bridge. Cooper met Skeeter in a homeless shelter in Nashville, TN, where he now works, “to return God’s favor.”
He told Cooper that he wished someone would have told him about Jesus when he was a 12-year-old boy looking for acceptance on the streets, which reiterated to the event attendees the urgency of reaching the lost, By All Means.
Sharing personal testimonies and leading breakout sessions during the meeting were three missionaries, including International Mission Board’s (IMB) “N” Family serving Southeast Asian Peoples; IMB’s “S” Family serving South Asian Peoples; and North American Mission Board’s Matt and Kim Clark, serving St. Louis.
In addition to speaking to the group during a general session, Dr. Kearns lead one of the many breakout sessions offered, The Mission: Make Disciples. Kearns stressed the need to model Jesus in the disciple making process, emphasizing the importance of fostering relationships.
A brief business meeting was held before the event concluded, recognizing retiring Missouri WMU board members and electing their replacements. The attendees also approved the 2018 Missions Celebration to be held at South Gate Baptist Church in Springfield, and it will include the bi-annual meeting for Missouri AcTeens called PURSUIT.
Other accomplishments during the Missions Celebration included:
- Attendees donated 86 baskets for a silent auction which netted $3,404 for the Alberta Gilpin Fund.
- An offering was taken during the Celebration for the Madge Truex Fund totaling $3,450.25.
- A total of 1,464 items were collected for missions’ projects, as well as two large boxes of clothing..
- During the two-day event, 51 event attendees participated in four off-site projects in the Lebanon area.
- Approximately 800 cookies were packaged for the Great Outdoors event for Laclede Baptist Association.
- Twenty pillowcase dresses and nine tote bags were sewn, while several more distributed to Missouri WMU women to complete at home.
- Recognition of Missouri WMU Emeritus Missionaries, 2017-2018, Carl and Martha Rees.
- Recognition that 2017 marks the 30th anniversary of the Missouri WMU Lesotho Prayer Partnership.
Both Wells and Crump would like to thank the First Baptist Church of Lebanon for extending such a gracious welcome for the event.
“Steve Mino, the church’s worship leader, did an amazing job leading our song services,” Wells said. “We are also grateful to the local committee and program personnel for all of their work in planning the Celebration.”
WMU offers relevant mission-related education for preschool through adults, which can be previewed at the www.mobaptist.org/wmu. WMU wants to encourage all believers to learn about missional living, how to apply the power of prayer, to give to missions and to serve.