The announcement follows NAMB's recent organizational restructuring made to support the entity's "Send North America" strategy to assist Southern Baptists in reaching North America through mobilizing and equipping churches and missionaries for evangelistic church planting.
"We believe missions education is a key part of equipping churches for reaching North America -- and the world -- for Christ," said Kevin Ezell, NAMB's president. "This partnership means churches will continue to receive top-quality material and it allows us to utilize WMU's expertise and singular focus in this area."
NAMB will maintain its missions education ministry assignment, will continue to operate its Baptist Men's ministry work and will maintain close ties with the development of Royal Ambassadors curriculum.
Wanda Lee, national executive director and treasurer of WMU (Woman's Missionary Union), noted that RAs began with WMU in 1908.
"RAs was born out of our heart and our soul," Lee said. "We gave it lovingly to the Brotherhood Commission. Now we welcome them back and pledge our support and partnership with both mission boards to continue the work as best we can."
Royal Ambassadors began in 1908 following the WMU annual meeting in Hot Springs, Ark. The first chapter was established at First Baptist Church in Goldsboro, N.C. By 1918, Southern Baptists had established 1,200 chapters. In 1957, responsibilities for RAs transferred to the Brotherhood Commission, which in 1997 became part of the newly formed North American Mission Board.
NAMB shared the intent to partner with WMU at the annual Missions Education Roundtable meeting, March 1-2 at NAMB's office building in Alpharetta, Ga. Missions education coordinators from 28 Baptist state conventions attended the sessions and had opportunity to discuss the planned partnership. Lee and other WMU staff members from Birmingham, Ala., were on hand to answer questions and discuss the transition.
Specifics of the partnership -- which will also include the Challengers program for teenage boys -- have yet to be determined.
"The idea for this partnership came from our desire for RAs and Challengers to flourish," said Mike Ebert, NAMB vice president of communications. "We looked across the state line in Alabama and saw some friends who can do it very well and are very well equipped to do it."
NAMB and WMU are working toward finalizing the partnership and related transitions in time for the September 2012 curriculum delivery.
Reported by the communications staff of the North American Mission Board.
Copyright (c) 2011 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press www.BPNews.net