Organization formed to promote women in missions
December 28 2001 by Bob Allen , Associated Baptist Press

Organization formed to promote women in missions | Friday, Dec. 28, 2001

Friday, Dec. 28, 2001

Organization formed to promote women in missions

By Bob Allen Associated Baptist Press BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - A new missions organization led by and focused on women has been launched, according to an announcement Dec. 13. "One third of the world's people today are non-Christian women," said Suzanah Raffield of Birmingham, Ala., an incorporator of Global Women who will be the group's full-time coordinator.

Despite that statistic, planners of the organization said they could find no evangelical mission board in existence specializing in worldwide ministry and witness by women.

Incorporated Dec. 6, Global Women will attempt to "create and cultivate global friendships among women for shared learning and service for all humanity," according to legal documents.

"A dominant characteristic of most unevangelized peoples is repression and isolation of their women," said Raffield, an ordained minister. "Such women cannot usually receive the loving message of Jesus Christ, except through contact with a(nother) woman."

A purpose statement says the organization will "enable evangelical women to help women and their families to obtain a life of faith and benefit." Though started by Baptists, the organization is open to full participation from all "missions-minded evangelicals." It is also open to men.

Organizers include several former leaders of the Woman's Missionary Union (WMU), auxiliary to the Southern Baptist Convention. They also include younger women who believe a new kind of mission organization is needed to appeal to their generation.

Raffield said Global Women is unique among Baptists and other protestant groups. She believes an informally defined constituency will be appealing for young women to enter and to lead.

"We hope to help meet the need for gathering and sharing expertise in global ministry among women," Raffield said. "Many women already in the field have requested a chance to network."

President of Global Women is Dorothy Sample of Flint, Mich., a former national president of WMU.

"Nurture of women toward global service will be a distinctive of Global Women," Sample said. "We want to help place women, and also men, where they can minister to the world through women."

The first year's work is projected to include international partnership projects, conferences for young women, building an infrastructure for appointing women as missionaries and working with others wishing to expand humanitarian aid and evangelism among women, according to Raffield.

The group says it wants to complement the work of both the WMU and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF).

Daniel Vestal, coordinator of the Atlanta-based CBF, said the founders of Global Women inspire him.

"Their vision for this new organization is born out of a deep commitment to Jesus Christ and a passionate desire to fulfill the Great Commission," he said. "The birth of Global Women is fresh evidence of the Spirit's continued empowering."

Gary Baldridge, co-coordinator of the CBF's global missions division, said he looks "forward to cooperating in every way possible" with the group.

Funding will be "by churches and individuals who have a global vision of ministry for and by women," said Catherine Allen of Birmingham, the group's treasurer. She said the organization might also develop publications and projects that are "more-or-less self-funding."

Allen, a former staff member of WMU who has written several books on the history of women in missions, said several strong women's mission boards were active 100 years ago. Their work helped to plant lasting Christian communities in Burma, China, India, Brazil, Korea, Nigeria, and other nations."

But in recent years, Allen said, the percentages of women appointed as missionaries, especially for leadership development and human-needs ministry to women, have declined among Southern Baptists and some other denominations.

"We want to multiply women missionaries," Allen said. Global Women, she added, "will be an advocate and also an action agent for women in missions."

Vice-president of the organization is Carolyn Crumpler of Cincinnati, Ohio, who was executive director of WMU from 1974-1989 and later moderator of CBF.

"Global Women will take up parts of the missions task among women that need a spotlight," Crumpler said. "Our women's mission heritage around the world gives excellent models of what can be done when women shape mission philosophy. We will build on those and be mutually supportive of all who are continuing to serve."

Secretary is LeAnn Gunter of Panama City, Fla., and assistant secretary will be Lori Crowe of Cornelia, Ga. Gunter and Crowe are students at McAfee School of Theology in Atlanta with backgrounds in mission projects.

Other incorporators include Alma Hunt of Roanoke, Va., who was executive secretary of WMU from 1948-1974; and Dellanna O'Brien of Birmingham, WMU executive director from 1989-1999. After serving as an incorporator, O'Brien vacated her position on the founding board of directors.

Organizers said planning for a women's mission initiative began in March 2000, after research indicated declines in missions for and by women. Research also revealed that suffering of women is worsening globally.

Three informal think tanks have been held since June 2000, where women described shortcomings of existing missions-delivery systems, looked at the history and current demographics of women in missions and discussed factors that hinder women from following God's call.

As early as November 2000, a consensus developed that a free-standing organization was needed to meet growing needs and opportunities for women, Allen said.

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12/28/2001 12:00:00 AM by Bob Allen , Associated Baptist Press | with 0 comments
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