Charlotte teens take stage in Phoenix
    June 20 2011 by staff and wire reports

    Two North Carolina teenage ladies took part in this year’s Southern Baptist Convention and Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) annual meetings in Phoenix, Ariz.

    Kianni Curry and Cassie Taylor, both of University Hills Baptist Church in Charlotte, are two of six teenagers on the 2011 National Acteens Panel. Acteens is the WMU missions organization for girls in grades 7-12.

    Curry and Taylor are also preparing to take part in Blume 2011 July 13-16 in Orlando, Fla. Blume, formerly known as the National Acteens Convention, is sponsored every four or five years by WMU. National panelists, Debby Akerman said to Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) messengers June 14, are “an elite group of young women who have demonstrated a strong commitment to Jesus and to missions through their involvement in Acteens, their church, their community and their education.They represent the finest among today’s young women.”

    Akerman was re-elected to her presidency at the WMU annual meeting prior to the Southern Baptist Convention.

    Wanda S. Lee, national WMU’s executive director, and Akerman of Myrtle Beach, S.C., were joined by five of WMU’s six National Acteen Panelists in issuing the invitation to Blume’s sessions.

    Akerman asked each Acteen panelist to summarize her experience at Blume in 2007 in Kansas City in one word. Their responses were: “impactful,” “extraordinary,” “exhilarating,” “inspiring” and “fulfilling.” Blume is open to all teen girls (

    BR photo by Dianna L. Cagle

    Kianni Curry, left, and Cassie Taylor play rock, paper, scissors as part of an icebreaker called “The Progression Game.” Curry and Taylor taught the session and participated as part of the North Carolina Baptist Men’s Missions Conference for youth April 2. The two are National Acteen Panelists and members of the same church — University Hills Baptist Church in Charlotte. See photo gallery.

    In other WMU business, Rosalie Hunt of Guntersville, Ala., was re-elected to a third term as national recording secretary.

    About Curry, Taylor

    Curry and Taylor have been involved in Acteens for more than five years by participating in missions trips, taking part in various ministries such as Vacation Bible School, and leading missions conferences across the state. Since 2009, they both have been on the state’s Acteens panel. Curry is also a member of her school’s soccer team and book club.

    Taylor is involved in Key Club, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the Charlotte Children’s Choir, and other school activities.

    “Missions is about showing God’s love to everyone,” Curry said. “It requires devotion and commitment to God so you can tell others about Him and help others in any way that you can.”

    Deborah Taylor, Curry’s Acteens leader and Cassie’s mom, says Curry has a genuine servant’s heart. “Kianni believes in missions and seeks to find ways to make a difference in the world as well as individual lives.”

    Cassie said each mission trip has taught her “something new about myself.” Whether it is drawing on sidewalks or making balloon animals, Taylor said, “what I love about mission trips is that God gets all the credit.”

    “Helping others and doing missions is my way of worshipping and serving Christ, and (it) brings me true joy,” says Taylor. “There is no set way it has to be done as long as you are helping and loving on others, putting them before yourself and sharing the gospel.”

    In April, the girls led sessions on icebreakers for groups taking part in a North Carolina Baptist Men’s missions conference for youth.

    The next weekend they were helping with the WMU-NC Missions Extravaganza at Ridgecrest. Ruby Fulbright, executive director of WMU-NC, interviewed the girls in front of participants.

    Curry said before she thought of missions as “planned and predictable fun.”

    But then, she went to Canada and had to learn to be flexible after a car accident left them stranded. “For the first time in a while I had to sit quiet and listen,” she said.

    The girls made it but their time was almost up. Curry said they tried to make the best of it and made balloon animals for four hours straight at an outreach event.

    Curry admitted she struggles with finding time for God. Being part of Acteens has helped her stay organized and prioritize.

    The Acteens at University Hills only meet once a month.

    “We’ve learned to make those meetings the best they can be,” Taylor said.

    Curry thanked Cassie’s mom for her support over the years.

    “Miss Deb has been one of the most influential people I’ve ever met,” said Curry, who met Cassie when they were younger at an ice cream truck. “The Taylors have been my second family.”

    Fulbright said Debbie Taylor “is one of the examples of the best of the best,” highlighted in her director’s report. University Hills has had five national panelists since 2000.

    During that time there have also been three other ladies represented on the national panel.

    “It’s a privilege to work with girls who tell me we’re not doing enough,” said Debbie Taylor.

    Julie Keith, youth specialist for WMU-NC, describes Cassie as a leader. “(She) is very intentional in mentoring the younger girls in Acteens as well as in youth group. Her passion and love for missions is evident in her church Acteens involvement, but she also helps with associational and community missions projects.”

    Taylor and Curry began serving as national panelists Feb. 1 and will continue through the end of the year. The WMU Foundation has also awarded each of the young women a $1,000 scholarship from the Jessica Powell Loftis Endowment for Acteens.

    At Blume the panelists will have program responsibilities during all general sessions, and will be featured in other ways as well.

    In addition, the panelists will have the opportunity to write for The Mag, the missions magazine for Acteens, and for Throughout the year, Curry and Taylor will work together with the other panelists to shape the future of Acteens.

    WMU also recognizes Hayley Baxley of Galeed Baptist Church in Bladenboro as a National Top Teen.

    Other WMU news

    During the WMU’s “Proclaim” event June 12-13, WMU leaders heard from Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary President Jeff Iorg, International Mission Board President Tom Elliff and North American Mission Board President Kevin Ezell. Ezell gave Lee the “hand off” for Royal Ambassadors with a large cut-out race car and presentation of badges.

    (EDITOR’S NOTE — For full stories about the WMU report at the SBC and the WMU annual meeting, visit
    6/20/2011 8:08:00 AM by staff and wire reports | with 0 comments

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