"When WMU organized in 1888, praying for and giving to missions was at the forefront of the women's minds," Wanda S. Lee, executive director/treasurer of national WMU, said. "They had read many missionary letters; heard the pleas from individuals like Lottie Moon, and recognized the need to raise awareness and increase funding to support missions. What began with gathering eggs and baking bread to sell for missions soon turned into a missionary movement unlike anything their churches had ever experienced.
"Once they saw the impact they were having in isolated areas," Lee continued, "they realized there was strength in their collective efforts for missions. As a result, WMU was born and continues today with that same passion for praying and giving on behalf of our missionaries."
Over the course of 125 years, Woman's Missionary Union has grown from a group of women passionate about missions to a thriving international missions organization -- WMU -- that encourages both genders and all ages to share the love of Christ and seek to make Him known.
"The Story Lives On" is the theme of this year's celebration. "The story of WMU is a story of God at work in the lives of His people as they followed His call," Lee said. "It is a story worth telling over and over as we celebrate, so that others may join us in our missions calling."
In Houston, participants will have the opportunity to glimpse into 125 years of missions history through theme interpretations and interactive exhibits; gain insight into how God is at work around the world and how each person can be a part; visit with and hear from international and North American field personnel; hear from Debby Akerman, national WMU president, on Monday afternoon; participate in breakout sessions; and join in times of worship.
Featured field personnel from the International Mission Board will include Jackie Bursmeyer, the Americas; Gregg and Donna Fort, Zimbabwe; Richard and Fran Kelly, West Africa; and Randy and Debbie M., South Asia.
Featured missionaries with the North American Mission Board will be Chet Cantrell, Baptist Center director of the Christian Activity Center in East St. Louis, Ill.; Patrick and Archalena Coats, who serve in Homestead, Fla., with the Miami Baptist Association; and Scott and Ashley Venable, who serve in inner-city Chicago with the Illinois Baptist State Association.
A variety of breakout sessions on Monday, June 10, will be geared toward church missions leaders, including those who lead or are interested in knowing more about WMU's various organizations -- Mission Friends, GA, RA, Children in Action, Acteens, Challengers, Youth on Mission, and myMISSION.
All meetings of the WMU Missions Celebration will be on level four of the Hilton Americas Hotel, 1600 Lamar St. in Houston. Visit www.wmu.com for more information, including a complete schedule and frequently asked questions.
The yearlong celebration of 125 years of missions through WMU will culminate at the 2014 WMU Missions Celebration in Baltimore, June 8-9.
Julie Walters is the corporate communications team leader for WMU.
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