2016 WMU Missions Celebration and Annual Meeting

WMU opening sessions honor Lee, highlight missions

Women registering at WMU missions celebration

ST. LOUIS (BP) -- About 500 Southern Baptists gathered June 12 for the opening sessions of WMU's 2016 Missions Celebration and Annual Meeting in St. Louis, Mo.

With a theme of "By All Means," the two Sunday programs recognized current and retired missionaries, as well as International Mission Board staff, and celebrated Wanda Lee's service as she retires as executive director of WMU.

"I believe just as strongly today as I did 16 years ago that WMU is important to the Kingdom," she said. "We have the opportunity to make a difference. Our charge first and foremost is to be a light to the nations. There is strength in our union. There is strength in our collective purpose of missions. May our song truly be a song for the nations."

Lee said she was working as a nurse when God called her to missions. When she returned home to serve in the U.S., her call to missions did not end.

"My calling was to go wherever God leads," she said. "My call has not changed, only the place. No other ministry in Baptist life devotes itself exclusively to missions. What we do matters because we are shining a light."

Jamison receives O'Brien Award

Photo by Van Payne

ST. LOUIS (BP) -- Mindy Jamison, co-director of Friendship Baptist Center in Des Moines, Iowa, for the past 17 years along with her husband Jon, is this year's recipient of the Dellanna West O'Brien Award for Women's Leadership Development.

"Mindy pours her life into people living in the inner city of Des Moines, and at the same time invites and encourages others to minister alongside her," said Joni Wilkinson, executive director of Iowa WMU and volunteer at the Friendship Center, who recommended Jamison for the award. "She is a mentor to women of all ages and backgrounds and continues to teach about her passion -- living out her faith in her community and seeing people living in poverty come to know Christ."

Wanda Lee, executive director of national WMU, presented Jamison with the award during the WMU Missions Celebration on June 13 in St. Louis. The gathering was held there in conjunction with the Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting.

WMU urged to 'not grow weary in doing good'

Linda Cooper

ST. LOUIS (BP) -- International Mission Board church planter Sabastian Vazquez couldn't escape the inevitable emotions as he stood before a group of women whose legacy had led to four generations of pastors in his family.

Speaking during day two of the 2016 Woman's Missionary Union (WMU) Missions Celebration and Annual Meeting, Sabastian unsuccessfully fought off tears as he told the story of a new Southern Baptist missionary who a century ago handed a Spanish-language evangelistic tract to an illiterate baker named Angel Vazquez, his great-grandfather. Angel knew the missionary had given him something very special because of the way in which he gave it to him. He became a Christian and asked the missionary to teach him how to be a pastor, too. His son, grandson and great-grandson, Sabastian, would follow in his footsteps.

An Opportunity to Gather

During 2015, national WMU was involved in five different regional and/or national training events. We heard great missionary testimonies, experienced wonderful conferences that challenged our thinking about missions in our churches, and found encouragement in just being together. We committed to a comprehensive year of equipping leaders for missions in these unique events while we prepared to launch a full online, on-demand leadership training program. Many of you have taken one of the courses on ChristianLeaderLearning.com and have shared your enthusiasm for this new approach to missions learning. Others of you may be engaging in your first course. Our goal is to provide just the right training needed to lead with confidence and enthusiasm. I hope you will give this new approach a try soon if you have not already.
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