July 29, 2003
JEFFERSON CITY – The Missouri Woman’s Missionary Union (MWMU) is moving toward theological fidelity, a position more in line with the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) and Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), according to proposed changes to the MWMU bylaws.
A July 12 letter from MWMU Executive Board Secretary Maryetta Dennis to MBC Executive Director David Clippard indicated that language favorable to the Southern Baptist heritage of the 115-year-old national WMU has been crafted. Clippard called this an encouraging development.
"We believe it’s a step of good faith," he said.
In Article III – Relationships, Section 4, the MWMU is to promote missions giving and offerings "with focus on the Cooperative Program, the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions, the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions and the Rheubin L. South Missouri Missions Offering in Missouri Baptist churches."
In Section 3 of the same article, the "with focus on" language is followed by the words "Missouri Baptist Convention/Southern Baptist Convention missions," creating a similar effect of bringing the parties together.
"The changes emphasize our focus on Southern Baptist/Missouri Baptist missions," said Debbie Miller, president of the MWMU.
Miller said listening sessions are being scheduled throughout the state for August, September and October. The MWMU board will vote on the proposed bylaws at its meeting Nov. 7-8, Miller said.
On April 25, Clippard laid out the case for theological fidelity while speaking to the MWMU annual meeting at William Jewell College.
"You’re going to find out over time that I am your advocate, not your adversary," he predicted. During the breakout session he called for a closer relationship between the MBC and the MWMU. "Don’t leave your heritage," he said.
At a July 11 board meeting in the Baptist Building, Clippard was able to build on his previous statements. He stayed with his original theme of being an advocate, not an adversary, as the MWMU agreed to take a closer look at bylaws that were last updated in 2001.
"They assured us in the meeting that they were not going to leave their heritage," he said. "To make that a little more clear, they chose these words (‘with focus on’). We, in turn, are going to work with them on a job description with our staff position to assist them in their work."
Vivian McCaughan is no longer interim women’s missions and ministry specialist, Clippard said. She now holds the title full-time, with an eye toward forming a better bond with the MWMU.
"They’ve known Vivian since she was a little girl, so we’re going to stick with Vivian until we all agree on it (a better bond)," Clippard said.
Having McCaughan mediating in this position is a means by which the MBC and the MWMU can stand on common ground, the executive director said.
"That common heart in missions is really driving the ship," Clippard said. "That’s what we all agree on, and we’re just going to work out how that’s going to happen."
MBC President Monte Shinkle has offered to work out a place in the Nov. 5-6 annual meeting for the MWMU to give a personal report to the convention, Clippard said.
The MWMU Board has agreed to be prayer warriors for the MBC’s Romania and Iraq outreach efforts.