Missouri WMU amends some bylaws, but leaves door open to non-SBC sway
May 11, 2004
POPLAR BLUFF—Members at the 2004 Missouri Women’s Missionary Union (MWMU) Annual Meeting unanimously amended some bylaws clarifying fidelity with Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) missions strategies, but in other amendments the door was left open for non-SBC influence.
On April 23-24, 321 MWMU members met at First Baptist Church , Poplar Bluff to unite under the theme, “It’s All About Missions.”
The MWMU demonstrated alliance with the MBC and SBC through an amendment to the “Relationships” article in the bylaws. Prior to the amendment, the bylaws stated that the MWMU supported, but was not limited to, MBC and SBC missions. Article II Section 3 now states, “with focus on Missouri Baptist Convention/Southern Baptist Convention missions,” and Article II Section 4 now states “with focus on the Cooperative Program, the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for North American Missions, and the Rheubin L. South Missouri Missions Offering in Missouri Baptist Churches.”
In a press conference outgoing President Debbie Miller stated, “I think our focus has always been on the things listed there. For those that had some question as to our allegiance, I hope [the amendment] will alleviate those concerns.”
Miller, whose 5-year tenure as MWMU president concluded with this session, received warm appreciation for her service as members presented her with a gift basket and offered three standing ovations over the course of the weekend.
Commenting on her tenure during turbulent times for Missouri Baptists, Miller stated, “I have through five years had a firm conviction that WMU is one place in Missouri Baptist life where different voices can come together with a focus on missions and WMU. I pray that will continue. I’ve seen women come together from all across the spectrum. I think that’s something to celebrate.”
Presidential nominee Lorraine Powers of First Baptist Church, Blue Springs was elected unanimously. Powers’ credentials include: Current Assistant WMU Director in Blue River-Kansas City Baptist Association, Regional Consultant on the MWMU Board for the West Central Region, and service on the Missions Leadership Team in her church. She taught for 30 years in the Raytown School District.
In other officer elections, members approved Board nominees Linda Graham of First Baptist, Raytown as vice-president and Maryetta Dennis of South Haven Baptist, Springfield as secretary. Nominations for the office of treasurer were Board nominee Lucy Praisewater of Linden Baptist in Gladstone, and member Sue Lamb who was nominated from the floor. Members elected Praisewater by a large majority.
In the business session, Lamb and other members voiced serious concerns about some Board-recommended amendments regarding qualifications for serving on the MWMU Board. Prior to the annual meeting, Lamb asked the Board to consider an amendment to the bylaws that would require MBC and SBC affiliation of those nominated for an officer position.
Miller reported that the Board rejected the recommendation. Reasons listed for rejecting the proposal were that there is no clear definition for determining whether or not a church is an MBC/SBC church, and that in the listening sessions held statewide by the Board no preference regarding this matter was expressed. Miller also explained that the recommendation to amend Article VI, Section 3 was inappropriate, since Section 3 describes the duties of officers, not qualifications to serve found in Section 2.
Similar discussion took place prior to voting on a Board recommendation to amend qualifications to serve on the nominating committee. The Board recommended that at-large members of the nominating committee must be adult women “who are members of local WMU organizations in Missouri Baptist churches.” Opponents objected that the wording omitted “Convention” affiliation as a requirement to serve; however, the amendment passed with little opposition.
Missionaries bringing reports of their ministries to the annual meeting included NAMB church planters Jeff and Kim Moore reporting on Mission Ohio, Bob and Peggy Mulkey reporting on their ministry to the deaf in Ecuador, and MWMU Language Consultant Dora Narvaez reporting on the MBC/Puerto Rico Partnership, among others. The MWMU also recognized two Missouri Acteens, Toni Smith and Holley Stockard (both of First Baptist, Jackson), who were two of eight Acteens nationwide earning places as this year’s “National Top-Teens.”
“Seeing individuals get excited about missions, and it making a difference in their lives,” is what Debbie Miller recalls as the most meaningful part of her service as MWMU president. In her final address as president, Miller encouraged members stating, “Life is full of challenges, and if we close our eyes to the pain, we’ll fail to see God at work. Sometimes it’s not easy. But we know God will be with us always.”