Parsing the meanings of WMU
February 1 2002 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

Parsing the meanings of WMU | Friday, Feb. 1, 2002

Friday, Feb. 1, 2002

Parsing the meanings of WMU

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor

This is WMU Focus week, so I'm focused on that amazing acronym, "WMU." What does it stand for?

The official line, of course, is that "WMU" stands for "Woman's Missionary Union," though most people I know pronounce it "Women's" rather than "Woman's." Why the women who named it chose the singular form I do not know, but the organization has apparently not suffered overt confusion because of it - we use "WMU" so commonly that the words themselves are rarely spoken.

It occurred to me, as I thought about the significant role of WMU, that it might be worth pondering other potential ways of spelling out the acronym. That "union" part might bother some people, for example. I was raised in a part of the south where "unions" were considered to be the invention of Yankee troublemakers who were bent on wrecking the economy. I wondered why the women in our church needed to have a union, and if they shouldn't consider another name.

My earliest impression of WMU was something like "Women Made Up." I first encountered WMU when my mother's "circle" met at our house. Before they ushered me from the room, I noticed that the ladies were powerfully dressed up for the middle of the week. They also had some fine refreshments, though I can't think of an acronym for that, other than "We Make mUnchies."

I next came to know WMU ladies through their sponsorship of "GA's," which used to mean "Girl's Auxiliary" but is now "Girls in Action." Our church was sadly lacking in the RA (Royal Ambassadors) department, so I had to go elsewhere for missions training and backlot baseball. But the WMU ladies made sure we had a GA program to teach the girls about the centrality of missions to our Christian calling. For that, I thought of them as "Wise Matriarchal Upbringers."

Most of the ladies in our church belonged to WMU in one way or another, and most of them were married with kids, and most of the kids were as likely as me to drop off to sleep during our pastor's weekly 45-minute sermons. The moms of our church must have colluded during the circle meetings and agreed that children should not sleep in church, and so drowsy youngsters often felt the pinch of the "Wakeful Mothers United."

When I became a pastor, I quickly learned that a strong WMU can be the lifeblood of a Baptist church. I have never met more faithful and supportive church members than the loyal WMU ladies I have known through the years. They educate both children and adults about the importance of missions. They promote special offerings with such zeal that you would think they all knew Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong personally. Perhaps that is because they all do know Jesus personally. For the backbone they give to the local church, I think of them as "Wonderful Members Unabashed."

WMU ladies do more than promote missions - they also do missions. They collect toys and make blankets for the poor and homeless. They visit the sick and afflicted. They encourage or mentor those who need a helping hand or a mature head. They share the love of Christ in a thousand ways, so it would not be inappropriate to call them "Witnesses M Us."

If there is anyone in a typical church that does the work of prayer, it is the women of WMU. Not only do they pray on their own time, but they are awash with creative ideas and resources for promoting productive prayer among others. Since there's no "P" in WMU, the best prayer-related acronym I can derive is "Worldwide Meditations Unlimited."

One consistent thing about an avid WMUer is that she's not content to let other folks, male or female, just sit around and be uninvolved in the doing and supporting of missions. Any WMU lady worth her prayer calendar is unashamed to lay out the challenge, point her finger at young and old, and say "We Mean U!"

And that means nothing but good things for the church.

When you say your prayers this week, thank God for WMU - in all its myriad meanings.

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2/1/2002 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments
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