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Arlene Miller recognized for outstanding leadership

A. MillerArlene Miller, director of Impact Ministry in Hopkinsville, received the Dellanna West O’Brien Award for Women’s Leadership Development during the recent national WMU Missions Celebration in Columbus, Ohio. The award was presented to Arlene in the Sunday evening session on June 14.

The O’Brien Award is given annually through a nomination process. I have been acquainted with Arlene for most of my 15 plus years in Kentucky and counted it a privilege to nominate her for the award. Arlene exemplifies absolute dedication to ministry and helping women spiritually and with practical life issues. I was joined in making the nomination by others who provided endorsement letters. We recommended Arlene because she is a leader in ministries that touch women and families. She is active in WMU leadership in her association, directs Impact Ministry in Christian County Baptist Association, and is the Co-coordinator of Christian Women’s Job Corps (CWJC) in Hopkinsville, KY. She is involved with Mississippi River Ministry and is a member of the Kentucky WMU Leadership Network. I have observed Arlene in her ministry site as well as a participant in state WMU events. She is totally committed to missions and goes above and beyond to make things happen. Her ministries have received grants from the Eliza Broadus Offering almost every year and it is always exciting to read of what is happening through Impact Ministry and CWJC. Arlene has participated in missions in Haiti, Poland, and Greece. She has been involved in Eastern Kentucky through a quilt ministry and led others to join her on mission trips.

IMG_20140514_124811_928Arlene is a native of Kentucky, mother of three, and grandmother of five. She is a retired nurse (LPN) and a widow since 1995. Arlene was saved at age 12 in a small country church. She has been in church most of her life but did not get involved in WMU until 1974 because previous churches did not have WMU. Arlene began teaching Acteens and thought that teaching teenage girls to love missions was her life’s calling. She taught Acteens for 27 years and at the same time was the teacher for the youth Training Union class on Sunday nights. She says that even though the church did not have a group for teenage boys, the boys still received missions education because she would use missions stories along with the Training Union materials. The boys helped with many of the Acteens missions projects.

In 1994, Arlene was part of the start-up of Impact Ministry by Christian County Baptist Association. She became director of the program in 1996.  In 2004 she attended CWJC training and began that ministry in connection with Impact in 2005.  Both ministries are housed in the same building in downtown Hopkinsville.  As director of Impact Ministry, Arlene leads a teach of volunteers who are mostly women. She inspires commitment to the ministry and helps them develop in their roles. As co-coordinator of Christian Women’s Job Corps, Arlene helps women develop life skills and helps them develop spiritually. She helps women get their GED so that they can get a job. She has Bible study and teaches other skills like cooking and sewing. Arlene is also very good with children and is a wonderful role model to mothers who come into Impact Ministry or CWJC.

IMG_20140514_121300_284Jo Pelham, WMU Director for Christian County Baptist Association, provided an overview of Impact in her endorsement: “The ministry is open for two hours on three days of the week. Impact Ministry depends strictly on the churches giving donations and many volunteers helping each week. No customer receives help without FIRST going through spiritual counseling – the counselors are also volunteers. Arlene coordinates all this work. Impact serves about two hundred people each month; this is about four to five hundred family members. Since the beginning of this ministry, an estimate of fifteen people a year receive Christ into their lives. Also Tiny Tots Diaper Ministry was started a few years ago and a new baby gift package is given to each pregnant woman who comes to Impact for help.”

Arlene is a member of New Palestine Baptist Church in Crofton, Kentucky. In 2001 she was approved as a MSC Missionary of the North American Mission Board. She continues to be recognized as a Kentucky missionary and now also serves as the West Kentucky Missions Mobilization Consultant to recruit and encourage other Kentucky MSC missionaries.

Please pray for Arlene and these ministries.  Go visit the ministry and take supplies to help.  And give to the Eliza Broadus Offering to enable us to make many more grants to ministries across Kentucky.

Congratulations, Arlene, for receiving the 2015 Dellanna West O’Brien Women’s Leadership Development Award.  We are Kentucky proud of you and all who serve with you.

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Linda Cooper Elected as National WMU President!

LiLinda Baltimore 2014nda Cooper of Bowling Green was elected as president of Woman’s Missionary Union today, June 15, at the WMU Missions Celebration in Columbus, Ohio. Linda is the first WMU president from Kentucky.

Linda served as the 38th president of Kentucky WMU from 2010-2014. In June 2014 Linda was elected as Recording Secretary of National WMU, only the second time someone from Kentucky has served in this role. After serving just one year in this position, Linda was tapped for WMU president.

Linda is employed as a Registered Dental Hygienist and has worked for Benson Family Dentistry for over 35 years. Linda and her husband, Jim, are active members of Forest Park Baptist Church where Linda serves as WMU director. She is also the WMU Director for Warren Association of Baptists. Linda and Jim have two adult children and two grandchildren.

T 107Linda brings a wealth of WMU knowledge and experience to this new role. In addition to her WMU experience at the church, association, state and national levels, she is a capable writer having written articles for national WMU publications as well as columns for Kentucky Notes. Linda is a popular speaker and communicates well with WMU and other audiences.

Linda served on the Kentucky WMU Executive Board from 2006-09 and was elected president of Kentucky WMU at the 2010 Annual Meeting in Louisville. As president of Kentucky WMU, Linda served as a vice-president of National WMU.

Li523659_10151905988400035_2140927989_nnda has served on international mission trips to Jamaica, Tanzania, South Korea, South Africa, and Indonesia. She was part of a WMU team in Puerto Rico as well as Familyfest and Missionsfest in Kentucky.


Linda Cooper w torch
Linda was saved as a 12-year old and says that going to church has always been part of her life. Linda says that she strives to walk with the Lord daily “by staying in His Word, praying, sharing Christ verbally, and by the way I try to live.” In describing her WMU experience when she was elected as Kentucky WMU president, she said, “Although I know and believe that mission trips are life changing, I believe our real mission is to live a missions lifestyle each on the mission field where God has planted us. I am fortunate in the fact that in our dental office, we have prayer before work and I am free to share Christ.”

We are Kentucky proud of Linda’s election to this leadership role. She has been in many of our churches and associations. We know her as a wonderful speaker, effective leader, and one who leads by example.

Congratulations, Linda! We are praying for you.

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Thank you, Debby Akerman

Debby Akerman 10 14 10On June 14-15, the national WMU Missions  Celebration and Annual Meeting will take place at First Baptist Church, Grove City, Ohio.  A part of this celebration will include a time to say thank you to our outgoing national president, Debby Akerman.  We have been blessed by Debby’s five years of service, including her participation in two Kentucky WMU Annual Meetings in 2012 and 2015.

Debby has traveled extensively as our president. She offers wise counsel and encouragement.  She leads by example, including serving as a Girls in Action leader in her church in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Her writings have challenged us to live surrendered to the Lord, to wait on His perfect timing, and to trust in His love for us.

11040883_10152882491601275_8569682873423879584_nIn our recent Annual Meeting, I asked Debby to share reflections on her experiences as president and to help us look to the future.  In reflecting on her five years as president, Debby shared that she has experienced three WMU emphases in these 5 years. “I began with Unhindered. How appropriate for a new national president. God did some pretty amazing unhindering in me … emptying me of everyday things and loosening my grip on local responsibilities so I could fully embrace this call of God. As I began to travel with my new responsibilities, I heard statements like these “My mother was in WMU. ” “I once was an RA.” “I grew up in GA but somehow I disconnected.”
      Now I hear more of these statements…. “My wife is a WMU leader” “My children are in GA and RA.” “My church is starting WMU”. And…. I love this from a pastor…. He said to a search committee. “My daughter is an Acteen and if you don’t have Acteens I cannot accept your call to be your pastor.” Men and Women and pastors across our country have been increasingly unhindered to embrace WMU and our mission purposes.
      “The Story Lives On” emphasis…. didn’t you all love that?.…..What great times of celebration…two full years of celebrating.  I remember in Houston ….Joy dressed in full GA regalia leading us in the star ideals at the National WMU Missions celebration and Jon Auten leading the RA Pledge.  And all of you who attended, remembering your heritage and renewing your commitment to WMU as your then state president, Linda carried the torch light in promise to God to be fervent in the work of Kentucky WMU.
     10359139_10152882491536275_6057013408410664369_nOur grand finale celebration in Baltimore was indeed grand…. Only God could have worked out the plan for the Southern Baptist Convention and WMU to be in Miss Annie Armstrong territory to celebrate and to tour the city and see the early days of WMU history through her eyes.|
     In the midst of celebrating our 125th anniversary God began to say…. This is good…. But you cannot linger in the celebration nor rest on your laurels. Where will you lead WMU next? Are you seeking My next for WMU?  As I pondered those questions …. More thoughts surfaced. If all in WMU were fully surrendered, WMU would be growing in every church. If all in our churches were more willing to sacrifice, CP, LMCO, and AAEO would surpass every goal. If all Christians were more willing to serve, we would see all our churches overflowing with new believers and there would be no unreached unengaged peoples left in the world.
    From many questions and much praying by the group gathered to discern God’s direction……”All For You… Surrender, Sacrifice, Serve” emerged. I have been in 12 states since this emphasis began. This emphasis is strengthening the resolve of many who recommitted to WMU during our 125th celebration. This emphasis is causing women who have spent their entire adult life in WMU, now weeping with new resolve to live a missions lifestyle, saying this topic… this surrender to God’s call on their life for missions through WMU had dwindled and that this emphasis was a wakeup call from God. It is causing women to step back into WMU, to step out and do missions, and to say to God “All For You” |
     Other areas of reflection have come to my mind. First… Renewal…. WMU is being identified again by our Southern Baptist entities and by our churches as fully relevant for today. Many of our leaders are rekindling what they learned in their formative years as MFs, GAs, RAs and Acteens and now supporting the work of WMU. Second … Resurgence…. There is a revival of interest in WMU by our young missionaries. As they seek connections with multiple churches, it is WMU they are finding to be their best support. They ask us more questions and want to be part of WMU in their states and in other countries. Third …. Resources… Our writers and curriculum specialists at WMU are excellent, the best anywhere…. I hear only strong words of appreciation for the resources WMU presents for missions learning.
    At our National WMU board meeting this past January I spoke of decreasing subscriptions for our resources…. Even for our wonderful Missions Mosaic. Every member of the National WMU board and all the state Executive directors agreed we could not let this continue. We ask you all to be Missions Mosiac advocates; a Mission Mosiac for every woman in WMU and ………..the WMU resource in the hand of every GA and RA and MF and Acteen. Will you be that advocate for WMU resources?  Thank you!

Debby’s sister, Melissa Fitzwater, serves with her husband John (Fitz) as Kentucky Mission Service Corps missionaries with Loaves and Fishes Ministry in Lynch. So we expect that we will continue to see Debby in Kentucky from time to time.

The national meeting is fairly close for us this year and I am looking for a strong Kentucky contingent to be present. There will be a reception for Debby on Sunday afternoon.  Pray for Debby as she presides at this meeting and concludes her term as president. Give thanks for her ministry among us.  I hope to see you in Columbus.

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Mission Adventure for Kentucky Kids

Mission Adventure for Kentucky Kids is a new missions opportunity for children in grades 4-6 and their leaders sponsored by Kentucky WMU. Offered in two locations, east and west Kentucky, each adventure includes three days of hands-on missions as well as Bible study, missionaries, track time, recreation and more.  Each adventure takes place in a Thursday through Saturday time frame. The first adventure is June 11-13 in Princeton, Kentucky.  The second opportunity is June 25-27 in Inez..

Here are some of the highlights;
Thursday: Registration, Worship, Prayer Walks, Project Orientation, Kentucky Kid Fun
Friday: Quiet Time, Worship, Bible Study, Mission Projects, Kentucky Kid Fun
Saturday: Quiet Time, Worship, Bible Study, Backyard Bible Clubs, Closing Celebration

Prayer walking will lay the foundation for the ministry projects and help children see needs in each community. The Friday ministries include helping at local thrift stores with sorting items and singing at area nursing homes. On Saturday the children will help with Backyard Bible Clubs.

Supplies 2Supplies 1We are excited about the upcoming adventures. Supplies are stacking up as Stacy Nall, Kentucky WMU Missions Consultant for Children, gets everything ready. Jon Auten, Missions Consultant for Royal Ambassadors, will also be on the team along with a number of other WMU volunteers.

Pray for Stacy, Jon,  and the volunteers who are leading these mission adventures.  Pray for the children and the adult chaperones. Pray for the communities where the children will minister. Pray that this Mission Adventure for each child will lead to many more.

StacyThe giving of your church through the Cooperative Program and your gifts to the Eliza Broadus Offering help us make Mission Adventure for Kentucky Kids possible. Thank you for giving generously to Kentucky missions.

Kentucky WMU helps churches learn, pray, give, go and send!

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EBO is vital to summer ministries

The Eliza Broadus Offering will be at work all summer during mission trips for children, camp overnights, Kentucky Changers, and the rescheduled Creative Ministries Festival 2.0. Your gifts to the Eliza Broadus Offering help us keep participant fees lower by covering some of the expenses of these ministries.

Mission Adventure for Kentucky Kids is a NEW mission trip opportunity for children in grades 4-6 and their leaders. Two mission trips are planned and will include Bible study, recreation, crafts, missionary speaker, and local mission projects. Join us in Princeton, June 11-13, or in Inez, June 25-27. kywmu.org/missionadventure

Kentucky Changers are ready for four packed weeks of ministry projects to assist low income homeowners. Roofing, outdoor repairs, painting, building wheelchair ramps, and more are all part of the summer fun. Nightly worship with dynamic music and speaker make each day even more meaningful.  Changers will be working in June and July in Richmond, Marshall County, Maysville and Henderson. There are still openings for Marshall County, June 20-26, and Henderson, July 11-18. Bring some students and find out how rewarding hands on missions can be. kywmu.org/changers

Overnights at Jonathan Creek and Cedar Crest are a great opportunity for girls and their mothers or GA leaders to spend a night at camp. Come participate in outdoor activities, Bible study, crafts, and meet a missionary. Join us at Jonathan Creek, July 10-11, and at Cedar Crest, July 17-18. Early registration rate of $55 per person through June 12. kywmu.org/overnights

Camp Courage will bring boys, dads, and leaders together July 31-August 1 at Laurel Lake Baptist Camp in Corbin. A variety of outdoor activities as well as the ever popular RA Racers will be part of the fun and missions learning. The theme is “We Are Faithful Messengers” drawn from 2 Cor. 4:13. kywmu.org/courage

Creative Ministries Festival 2.0 has been rescheduled for August 14-15 at Living Hope Baptist Church in Bowling Green.  Register now for a great missions experience of both learning and doing creative ministries.Don’t miss guest artist Jeff Smith, director of Salt and Light Ministries in Richmond, VA. Plan now to attend great workshops including: Puppets, Balloons, Interpretive Movement, Sign, God Rods, Skits, Juggling, Face Painting, Magic, Lip Synch, Clowning, and Human Video. Find out what “Taking It to the Streets” is all about!   kywmu.org/cmf

Remember that the Eliza Broadus Offering is received all year long! Help us reach our goal of $1,250,000 to support these and other ministries across Kentucky.  As of this writing, we just have $101,000 to go to reach our 2014-15 goal. Donate online or through your church!  kywmu.org/ebo

 

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Changers Still Room 2015Overnights 2015

 

 

Camp Courage 2015

CMF Rescheduled

 

 

 

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Connect the Dots

The recent International Mission Board Missionary Appointment Service held in Louisville was a reminder of the importance of missions education and various missions experiences in preparing missionaries to say “yes!” to God’s call on their lives. Even in the short statements each missionary was able to give about his or her calling, the importance of formative experiences was evident.

For some, the calling to missions began as children in missions groups like Girls in Action and Royal Ambassadors. Hands on missions contributed to an understanding of what it means to serve others. Mission trips and short-term service helped a number of the new appointees to grasp what it means “to be radically involved in the mission of God.”

To connect these experiences in the lives of each appointee is like a “connect the dots” activity where a picture emerges as one draws a line from dot to dot. The importance of each dot cannot be underestimated in creating the finished picture.

So it is with missions education. Missions education that is done well includes many missions experiences of learning, doing, praying, giving, and going. Each learning experience lays a foundation of understanding. Each hands on service opportunity is a window to the work of God. Each mission trip expands the horizons. Praying for the lost and for missionaries creates a heart of compassion. Sacrificial missions giving puts the priorities of God on material possessions.

What if we miss adding dots to the picture? What if we are too busy to teach children about God’s mission around the world? What if we cannot be bothered to chaperone teenagers on a mission trip or Kentucky Changers? What if we fail to teach our students to pray? What if we skip teaching Biblical stewardship of time, money, and personality?  What if we fail to equip our children and youth to witness?

Without the dots, there is no picture.

At SALT (State Association Leadership Training) last Saturday, I distributed a dot-to-dot picture and talked about missions dots that WMU provides such as:

Dot to Dot-page-001

  • Teaching preschoolers about God
  • Teaching preschoolers and children to pray
  • Teaching about sin and the importance of Jesus death on the cross for our sins
  • Teaching about the resurrection
  • Teaching the plan of salvation
  • Teaching kids (and adults) to share their faith
  • Introducing children to other cultures and people
  • Understanding lostness
  • Understanding why and how we send missionaries
  • Hands on missions experiences locally
  • Missions projects
  • Mission trips
  • Meeting missionaries
  • Praying for missionaries
  • Giving to missions
  • Skype with a missionary

Great-CommissionAnd the list goes on.  Connecting these missions dots helps us raise up church members who embrace the Great Commission.

We must also remember that these dots do not just happen. We must be intentional.  In the same way, WMU growth does not just happen. We must be intentional as we:
Discover potential new members
Organize groups
Teach churches
Spotlight entry points to missions

The Eliza Broadus Offering makes dots, too.  EBO will provide dots of missions experiences all summer through Kentucky Changers, Mission Adventure for Kentucky Kids, GA and Mother/Daughter Overnights, Camp Courage, and Creative Ministries Festival 2.0. Perhaps one day we will hear a new missionary appointee cite one of these dots that you have provided through praying and giving for state missions.

Connect the DotsHelp us connect the dots. Learn, pray, give, go, send!

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You can still enjoy the Kentucky WMU Annual Meeting!

10464239_10152875803111275_8851690690471843571_nThanks to the great work of Larry Brannin, Media Department Director for the Kentucky Baptist Convention, the general sessions of the 2015 Kentucky WMU Annual Meeting were shown live on the internet through Livestream.  Larry also video taped the sessions and they are now posted on Vimeo. You may watch them on line or download them to your computer.  Please share the sessions with others!  We are also grateful to Drew Nichter from the KBC Communications Department, who assisted.

A link to each session is on the Kentucky WMU web site: kywmu.org/annualmeeting/2015.   And if you missed our meeting in 2014, those sessions are online, too!   kywmu.org/annualmeeting/2014

11117831_10155410487165035_2035384715207766277_nWe are grateful for the wonderful attendance and for your generous giving during Annual Meeting. There were 700 registered (though we know of a few more that did not register!).  You gave $7,500 to the offering for Kentucky WMU Ministries to Missionaries and $4,800 to the Kentucky WMU Heritage Fund.  Your generous giving allows us to continue our work in missions education and involvement.  If you were not able to attend or would still like to give, online giving is available for all areas of Kentucky WMU work.

We are are also grateful for your gift to the Eliza Broadus Offering. A number of EBO grant recipients had displays at our meeting and were given an EBO Grant Recipient ribbon to place on their display. Please note that we are in the final months of the 2014-15 offering year and we are running a little behind this time last year and have not yet reached our goal of $1,250,000.  When we do not reach the goal, funds for church planting, language missions, evangelism, collegiate ministry, church and community ministries, missions education, and much more are reduced for the year.  The offering is received all year long and you can check our progress on our website.

Plans are underway for our next gathering in Madisonville, April 8-9, 2016.  Mark your calendar and plan NOW to be be with us.  The Annual Meeting is the gathering place of everyone who cares about missions. The inspiration, challenge, and fellowship are worth the trip.  Be there!

PS: More photos are posted on the Kentucky WMU Facebook page.

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Prayerwalking in the State Capitol

Because the 2015 Kentucky WMU Annual Meeting was just 15 miles from Frankfort, one of our Friday afternoon activities was to take a group to the State Capitol to prayerwalk.  About 200 of us rode buses to Frankfort to participate. We gathered first in the Rotunda for a time of singing and prayer, then spread out around the building to pray.  Susan Bryant, our state WMU president who worked in state government for many years, provided a prayer guide.

In preparation for our time of prayer, I shared brief remarks about why we had come and several scripture passages that teach us to pray for our leaders. 1 Timothy 2:1-4 (HCSB) says, “First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all those who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good, and it pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” Then in verse 8, Paul writes “Therefore, I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or argument.”  1 Peter 2:13-15 reminds us, “Submit to every human authority because of the Lord, whether to the Emperor as the supreme authority or to governors as those sent out by him to punish those who do what is evil and to praise those who do what is good. For it is God’s will that you silence the ignorance of foolish people by doing good.”  We went to do good by praying.  

Perhaps you would like to take others and go pray at the Capitol. The following prayer guide will help you. Remember that as elected leaders change, this guide will need to be updated but the basics of the building and what takes place remains the same.

KY State CapitolCAPITOL PRAYER GUIDE

OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR – SUITE 100 – STEPHEN BESHEAR, GOVERNOR
The Governor is the head of the executive branch of Kentucky state government.  He also serves as commander in chief of the Kentucky National Guard.  The governor enforces state laws, and has the power to veto bills passed by the Kentucky General Assembly.  He may convene special sessions of the General Assembly and grant pardons.  The Governor also has the power to reorganize state government.
     Prayer suggestions:  The election of the new Governor this year, pardons to be considered by Governor Beshear before leaving office, decisions based on Christian principles.

OFFICE OF THE LT. GOVERNOR – SUITE 142 – CRIT LUALLEN,  LT. GOVERNOR
The Lt. Governor is a constitutionally elected official who is the second ranking officer of the Executive Branch.  Lt. Governor Crit Luallen was named to this office in November 2014 after former Lt. Governor Jerry Abramson resigned.  The Lt. Governor serves under circumstances similar to that of the Vice President of the United States and has responsibilities and duties as the Governor shall assign or delegate.
     Prayer suggestions:  Lt. Gov. Luallen as she works to promote Kentucky.  Pray for wisdom in the election of the Lt. Governor during this election year.

OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL – SUITE 118 – ATTORNEY GENERAL JACK CONWAY
The Office of the KY Attorney General offers various consumer protection and victims advocacy programs for residents of Kentucky.  Additionally, it serves in an advisory capacity on child support enforcement.  It has various divisions which include an administrative hearings division, communications office, KY Bureau of Investigation and Medicaid fraud division.  The Attorney General also provides legal opinions to public officials to assist them in the performance of their duties.
     Prayer suggestions:  Pray for wisdom of the Attorney General in the various duties perform by this Office.  Pray for wisdom in the election of a new Attorney General during this election year.

SUPREME  COURT – ROOM 235
The Supreme Court is composed of 7 judges who are elected for 8 year terms in non-partisan elections.  The Supreme Court is the court of last resort and the final interpreter of state law.  The court does not retry cases; it receives oral and written briefs from which it makes its decisions.  Cases involving the death penalty, life imprisonment, imprisonment for 20 years or more are reviewed by the Supreme Court as a matter of right.  The Supreme Court is also responsible for establishing rules of practice and procedures for the Court of Justice which includes conduct of judges and attorneys.
Supreme Court Justices include: Bill Cunningham (1st District), John D. Minton, Jr. (2nd District), Daniel Venters (3rd District), Lisabeth Hughes Abramson (4th District), Mary Noble (5th District), Michelle Keller (6th District), and David Barber (7th District).
     Prayer suggestions:  Pray that the Justices will make wise decisions of the cases coming before the Court.  Pray for Christian principles to be upheld in all decisions.

KENTUCKY GENERAL ASSEMBLY
The Kentucky General Assembly convenes on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in January.  It meets for 60 days in even numbered years and for 30 days in odd numbered years.  The House of Representatives and Senate create new laws, amend existing laws and enact the State budget.  Interim joint committees meet when the legislature is not in session.

House of Representatives
The House of Representatives consists of 100 seats.  Representatives are elected for 2 year terms with the entire House elected every two years.
     Prayer suggestion:  Pray for the election of a Christian to each House seat during this election cycle. 

Senate
The Senate consists of 38 seats.  Senators are elected for 4 year terms with half of the Senate elected every two years.
     Prayer suggestion:  Pray for the election of a Christian to each Senate seat during this election cycle. 

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Susan Bryant’s Closing Remarks from Annual Meeting

Wow.  What a meeting this has been.  We’ve had some tried and true things and some new things.  And just think, it isn’t over yet.  In a few minutes we are going  to enjoy a missions block party and later we have the opportunity to preview a movie that relates to the current WMU social issue, post traumatic stress disorder.  I have seen the movie; you will want to stay and see it.

I don’t know about you but I have learned so much over the last day and a half listening to our speakers.  When I was young my mother would sometimes say “Don’t get the big head”.  Well  I think today that I do have the big head and a bigger heart but only because of all the things I have learned this weekend.  And I think that most of you probably have the big head and big heart right along with me for the very same reason.

For years I have heard our esteemed Executive Director, Joy Bolton, say about annual meeting “It is all about the outcomes.” And it is. What are we going to do with what we have learned once we get home.    It is great if we have come here to see friends and have a mini reunion because this is the only time we see one another each year.  I have loved seeing Irma, Tina and so many others this weekend.  I look forward to making new friends, renewing friendships and catching up on one another’s lives. The programs are always wonderful, missionary speakers inspiring and we feel good about participating in the ministry projects we do at each meeting.

But then we go home.  We’ll leave Sand Spring in a few hours . . . we’ll set our GPS to get us home.   Maybe we’ll sing some of the songs we sang this weekend as we roll along – My personal favorite it “We’ve a Story to Tell to the Nations” and thankfully I won’t have a passenger going home so I can sing it to my heart’s content.

But what about when we get home?  What’s going to be YOUR outcome of this meeting? Are you going to leave behind everything you’ve learned this weekend?  Knowing many of you as I do,  I don’t think so.  Let’s review a little.

Perhaps you know better now how to pray for our missionaries on the missionary prayer calendar in Missions Mosaic and like Debby, I hope you have a subscription and if you don’t, get one tonight.  You now  know the urgency of these prayers and how our missionaries depend on those prayers.  Thanks to Joe Joe, Jeff and Melva, and Ryan and Christy who have shared with us this weekend. We have loved their stories and their honesty in sharing just what it means to serve in a different culture far from home.  They have reminded us that we need to go home and pray for our missionaries to  have access to an apartment or house that costs more than $35 a month.  I can’t even imagine.  We need to pray for their families and the close relationships they have sacrificed to answer God’s call on their lives.  They tell us that extraordinary sacrifices result in extraordinary blessings.  Their challenge to us is to get a passport, take short plane trips to get us ready to cross the water, eat new foods – maybe even food on a stick, learn to share our faith and just say “yes” when God asks us to go.  Will you do that?   Ryan so eloquently said “thank you” for the investment WMU ladies gave to Christy.  Will you invest in the life of a young girl or woman in your church?

And Debby Akerman.  We have read her books, heard her speak, many of us are friends with her on face book and we’ve otherwise benefited from her 5 years as President of National WMU.  Debby, we love you and are so happy you could be with us this weekend.  But, you know, Debby has given us a challenge too.

She has asked if a Mission Friend is not too young to learn that God loves them; God loves the whole world and someone needs to go and tell them.  I am sure we all said “no in our hearts.   At a recent missionary appointment service, a missionary appointee shared how it was in Mission Friends that God first placed that calling on her life.  God is still speaking to Mission Friends, GAs and RAs and calling them into mission service.  Perhaps a future Kathy Shafto is growing up in your church and needs the benefit of missions education to understand God’s calling on her life.   Will you step up to be her leader?

She challenged us to partner with a missionary with Kentucky roots serving with NAMB or IMB to help them catch a vision for WMU in their church plants.  And she has reminded us that WMU is still relevant in today’s culture and is helping our churches to learn new mission methods.   Kentucky WMU will be offering training for WMU leaders in our associations this spring and staff are always ready, willing – and even anxious – to help you begin  – or improve – the missions organization in your church.   What will you do?

Did you like going to the Capital yesterday afternoon?  How of you was this your first visit to the Capitol?  It was my old stomping ground for several years ago when I worked in the Governor’s Office.  As a retired state employee, I know how important prayer is for our elected officials.   Not just prayer when we are in the Capitol but consistent prayer for Godly leaders who aren’t afraid to take a stand for their Christian beliefs.   This year marks the election for many of our government offices – not just statewide offices but in local elections as well.  Will you commit to pray that God will call out Godly men and women to run for office, for elections that will result in  the Christian values that our country was founded on being upheld?  Will you pray?

I have a salvation doll like those that some of you made yesterday afternoon.  Wasn’t that fun?   I wasn’t there but I know it had to have been.  Any time we get together to craft is a lot of fun. Robin said she brought 114 kits and only one was left after the workshop.  If we multiplied that a few times, just think how many boys and girls could know about Jesus.   What are you going to do with your doll?  Are you going to show it off to your family saying “And you thought I couldn’t sew” and then stick it in a closet or did it give you an idea for how these dolls can be used to tell a child about Jesus?  On a WMU mission trip to South Africa a little over a year ago, we had dolls for each of the children in the orphanage where we served.  Pat Callan even found out the number of boys and girls we would be working with and made the appropriate number of boy and girl dolls! I was impressed!   The children loved them!  Wouldn’t GAs love to stuff them and help give them features?  Mine would!  And there are so many ways you can use these dolls to share Jesus – yourselves or to help supply a missionary or mission team with dolls to share.

Dawna Clark shared that you have donated 482 Hot Wheels for the KY Raceway Ministry.  She’s excited!  Could you, would you work at the Speedway one weekend?  Would that be an outcome for you?

Oh yes, I found some of the activity bags that you made for children visiting the Veterans Medical Center with their parents.  I loved seeing a picture on face book recently of Sandy Clark helping one of her Children in Action make those bags for this meeting.  Sandy is always ahead of the curve.  Could you make bags, fill them and find a place where they can be used to share about Jesus?.

What about the exhibits?  As they say, you couldn’t stir them with a stick in the exhibit corridor yesterday.  When we can to look at the space we decided that would be the perfect place for the exhibits and it was since it was so close to the sanctuary.  And it was.  I had many ladies sharing with me “Look what I found at this ministry.  I think I can do this.”   “I can take this back to my church and we can do this.”  Can you do this?  Don’t forget.

The ministry projects we do at each annual meeting are important, not just because they fill a need, but we hope they will give you ideas about what you can go back home and do in your own community.

The commissioning service last night was inspiring.  Each of these missionaries we commissioned are just trying to  live their lives in obedience to God’s calling.  Do any of them live near you?  Did one of their ministries resonate with you.  Remember, we said we could support them.  I am quite confident they would love for you to contact them to ask how you can assist in their ministry.

And the Kentucky Changers celebration – Did you notice that a lot of the people on the adult changer team were women?  Peggy has a place for you this summer – you and the youth and other adults in your church.   She would love to hear from you.  Will she?

And how can you and your church connect with Brian Hinton at Kentucky State or other campus ministries in your area of the state? We have the way to minister to international right here on our campuses.  We don’t have to go across the pond to minister to internationals.   Will you?

As Joy has said, our missions block party today is designed to help you visualize what a block party is and how you could use this as an evangelism tool in your community.  We were going to have the block party under tents out back.  But we even went so far as to arrange some pretty significant rain so we could show you how to go to plan B if necessary.  Could you do this?

We are so glad you chose spend this weekend with us.  This meeting could be just a pleasant outing for you and nothing more or it can be the beginning of living all for you.  I would love to hear from you and find out about your “outcomes” from this meeting so I can celebrate them with you.  Joy said last night that the results of our meeting should be felt around the world.  I believe it will be.

I close with a quote from that famous theologian, Dr. Seuss, in his book “Oh the Places You will Go.”

You have brains in your head
You have feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself
In any direction you choose.

I hope you will choose to steer yourself in the direction that says:  All for You, Surrender, Sacrifice, Serve.

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Tribute to Mary Lou Crutcher

Mary Lou CrutcherMary Lou Crutcher, a dear servant of the Lord passed away last weekend and her funeral was on Thursday, April 2. Mary Lou served on the Kentucky WMU Executive Board from 1995-98 and was a regular volunteer in our office.  I was honored to speak at her funeral and several people have asked for a copy of what I shared. With the blessings of her family, I share those reflections here.

The Missions Involvement of Mary Lou Crutcher
    It is an honor to have been asked to participate in this celebration of the life of Mary Louise Larson Crutcher, known to us as Mary Lou.  I have been asked to speak of her missions involvement.  It goes back a long way.

I was blessed to be provided a copy of Mary Lou’s application to participate in a Kentucky WMU mission team to Korea in 2008. That team, led by Stacy Nall, went to hold English camps for children as an outreach ministry in cooperation with Korean Baptists. Mary Lou was 75 when she went on that trip, and from what I have heard, it was not an easy mission trip.

In the application for that team, Mary Lou shared that at age nine she came to understand that it was not enough to know about God, but she needed to know God personally and believe in Jesus as her Lord and Savior. During revival services at her church, she felt Holy Spirit encouraging her to make this important decision and let the church know.  At age 13, Mary Lou attended a conference at Ridgecrest and responded to the call “Wherever He Leads I’ll Go.”

On that application form, Mary Lou was asked to provide information about previous overseas travel experiences.  She listed:
Brazil – Recife and Rio – Mission Trip
Russia, Ukraine, Latvia – Mission Trips (3)
China (2); Holy Land (6),
Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Korea,
Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong (6)
Scandanvia (3), central Europe (5+)
Greece (3), British Isles, Ireland, Turkey
Canada, Mexico, and unfortunately, the copier cut off a line and I could not read the rest.

Mary Lou’s travel experiences with Bob, her beloved husband, uniquely prepared her for serving as a Travel Coordinator with Dehoney Travel. In particular, Mary Lou coordinated and promoted what was called the Lottie Moon Tours of China. These began in the late 1980’s as China began to open up to tourists. I learned yesterday that Mary Lou traveled to China all by herself and scouted out the places they wanted to go and accommodations and such. I particularly remember these tours because my mother went on one in August of 1988.  It was the trip of a lifetime for my mom, to visit those places where Lottie Moon, beloved Southern Baptist missionary to China, had lived and worked.

I talked with Catherine Allen, retired associate executive director for national WMU, about those trips and her perspective on them from a WMU viewpoint. Catherine told me that every person who wanted to go on one of the tours had to be contacted. Mary Lou did this. Mary Lou had a solid grasp of why this trip was important and what a mission opportunity it was.

Catherine noted that while it was important for the Southern Baptists to go and to see the places where Lottie Moon had worked, the tours had a much greater importance in the encouragement they provided to the believers there. Catherine estimated that over 1000 people went on the tours and the tours were a way that Americans could have contact with the Christians in China. Russell Cherry, of Dehoney Travel, told me that no Americans ever went to Pingdu, and the other towns where Lottie worked. The only hotels were local. But the coming of the American Christians was a huge encouragement to the Christian community there.

My mother told me that on the last day her group was in China, one of their guides who had not told them much about himself asked the group if he could sing his favorite song for them. He sang “Jesus Loves Me.”  My mother would cry every time she told that story. Thank you, Mary Lou, for all you did to promote and coordinate those tours.

I came to know Mary Lou in 1998 when I first interviewed to serve as Kentucky WMU executive director. I did not get here until 1999 and Mary Lou had a big part in that, but that is another story for another day. But when I got here, I quickly learned that Mary Lou was involved in everything missions.

One her passions was Friendship International. She understood that God had sent the mission field here and she was to be a witness.  Mary Lou faithfully picked up international women and took them to Friendship every Wednesday.  She taught classes in English as a Second Language at all levels.  And when the extended family members of her Friendship students would come to visit, Mary Lou would invite the whole family to her home for a meal.

Carole Kemper, her co-teacher on the mission trip to Korea in 2008 said of Mary Lou: “She had a real talent for meeting strangers and making them feel at home.”

Mary Lou Crutcher w flagMary Lou served in missions through WMU. She had stints as church WMU director, associational WMU director, and as a member of the Kentucky WMU executive board. She valued Woman’s Missionary Union and our role in challenging Christian believers to understand and be radically involved in the mission of God. She understood the importance of keeping missions and God’s work around the world before the church so that people would pray, give, and get involved in missions.

Mary Lou was a regular volunteer in the Kentucky WMU office and spent countless hours filling orders for posters, prayer guides, and offering envelopes. Only the Lord knows the total given to missions because Mary Lou faithfully helped us send those materials to Kentucky Baptist churches.

Mary Lou left behind a collection of mementos and beautiful things from around the world. They are evidence not of a woman who traveled the world, though she did. Rather, they are a reminder to us of the love she had for all people of all nations and her desire to share the gospel of Jesus with everyone she met.

Mary Lou honored the commitment, “Wherever He Leads, I’ll Go,” and her challenge to us is that we would do the same.

Thanks be to God for his faithful servant, Mary Lou Crutcher.

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