'Beyond Belief' describes meeting
April 6 2001 by Bill Boatwright , BSC Communications

'Beyond Belief' describes meeting | Friday, April 6, 2001

Friday, April 6, 2001

'Beyond Belief' describes meeting

By Bill Boatwright BSC Communications RIDGECREST - The N.C. Woman's Missionary Union's (WMU) 2001 Missions Extravaganza could best be described by its theme, "Beyond Belief." The WMU's two-part annual meeting was held March 23-25 and March 28-April 1 at Ridgecrest Conference Center near Asheville. WMU began spreading the meeting out over two weekends last year to handle large crowds.

WMU officials said 1,371 registered for the first weekend and 935 registered for the second weekend.

Participants attending the meeting reflected the growing cultural and ethnic diversity apparent within the state, with special interest conferences conducted in Spanish, Hmong, Vietnamese, Korean and Sign Language for the hearing impaired. For the first time, there were also general large group sessions in Spanish to serve the growing Hispanic WMU groups being organized across the state.

The weekend conferences also reflected a wide range of ages, vocational backgrounds and mission interests. People from the state's largest and smallest communities and churches attended.

BSC officials believe Missions Extravaganza represents the largest cross-section of Baptist life assembled at any BSC-sponsored meeting.

A special offering of $13,901 was received during the two Saturday evening sessions. It will be divided one-half for Alaska hunger projects and one-half for literacy mission work.

Both weekend meetings included four general sessions and more than 100 special interest conferences. The annual business session was held during the first weekend session, with all of the current officers re-elected to serve another one-year term: Ruby Fulbright, Greenville, president; Sandra James, Whittier, first vice-president; Dianne Daniels, Graham, second vice-president; Beth McDonald, Rockingham, secretary; and Shirley Kool, Sylva, assistant recording secretary.

J.T. and Trish Harrell and George McSpadden of First Baptist Church in Gadsden, Ala., led music during the first weekend. J.T. serves as minister of music at the church. His wife, Trish, is pianist and McSpadden is organist. Trish Harrell is the daughter of Ruby and Ellis Fulbright.

Musicians for the second weekend were Neal Eller, music and worship team, Baptist State Convention, director; Katherine Hilliard, Black Mountain, organist; and Carol Cone, Concord, pianist.

The small group sessions - each participant could attend six different conferences - followed both the traditional WMU topics, such as age-level training for church mission organizations, and a large number of sessions of special interest to women.

Small group sessions included such topics as coping with widowhood, dealing with infertility, joys and struggles of home schooling, and "When the Glass Slipper Doesn't Fit," a session for every woman whose life isn't what she expected.

The 2000-2001 N.C. Acteens panelists each gave their testimonies during the weekend sessions. Katherine Ellison of Boone and Christi Black of High Point spoke during the first weekend session with Christina Reid of Hudson giving her testimony during the second weekend.

The general sessions, including missionary testimonies, prayer time and special music, featured a "Beyond Belief" presentation by futurist Karen Simons, former national WMU staff member and current senior consultant with the Union Baptist Association in Houston, Texas. Simons' presentations, which involved video clips and participant-involvement activities, underlined the importance of thinking outside the traditional parameters people usually assign themselves or accept from their cultural surroundings.

"God can do so much more than we can think about," Simons reminded her audience. "We need to learn to look at what we do from different angles and think beyond the lines," she said.

Following the Christmas story in the Gospel of Luke, Simons characterized the shepherds' behavior as open to change and opportunity. Although afraid, the shepherds listened to the angel, paid attention to the signs, moved out on their feelings and then returned to tell others what God had done in their lives. "Like the shepherds, we should take the opportunities at hand, even if afraid of what is ahead."

Katharine Bryan, interim executive director for N.C. WMU, distributed a printed report on the state of the group, indicating signs of health and vitality throughout the statewide organization.

"As I have been observing, examining and evaluating this organization (as an outsider), there are several things which stand out as being so right. First of all, you have an outstanding staff that brings commitment to missions. They are creative, they are thinkers, they are planners, they are workers."

Bryan went on to say that statistics of membership and meetings do not tell the whole story. She used examples such as "the Mission Friend who interrupts the family prayer time at the dinner table because they have not prayed for the missionaries, or the woman and her family who experiences the prison retreat and leaves with a sense of hope - hope for herself, her children and her future."

The first weekend ended on Sunday morning with a message by Fulbright. Wanda Lee, executive director of national WMU, spoke during the final session of the second weekend meeting. Each Sunday morning session concluded with a commitment time to go forward and further in Christian commitment - to go "beyond belief."

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4/6/2001 12:00:00 AM by Bill Boatwright , BSC Communications | with 0 comments
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