WMU Celebrates 117th Anniversary

Last month, the largest Protestant missions organization for women in the world celebrated 117 years of educating and involving women, girls, and preschoolers in the cause of Christian missions.

Since its birth at a meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) in Richmond, Virginia, in May of 1888, the Woman’s Missionary Union has been an auxiliary to the SBC and acquired a membership of approximately 1 million.

“It‘s been said to ‘never ask a woman her age’ but as WMU looks to the future, we take a moment to celebrate our past,” the WMU announced in a statement last month. “We celebrate 117 years of challenging Christian believers to understand and be radically involved in the mission of God.”

It was at the May 1888 meeting in Richmond that a group of women delegates from 12 states gathered at the Broad Street United Methodist Church and organized the Executive Committee of the Woman's Mission Societies, Auxiliary to Southern Baptist Convention. During the meeting, a constitution was adopted, the first officers were elected, and Baltimore, Md., was chosen as headquarters.

In 1890, the women adopted the name Woman's Missionary Union, Auxiliary to Southern Baptist Convention.

“In May 1888, our founding mothers met in Richmond, Virginia, to give life to what had only been an idea for some time-the birth of an organization that would focus on inspiring Baptists to love and care for missionaries and foster a missionary spirit within churches to lead individuals in active missions service,” said Wanda S. Lee, executive director/treasurer of WMU, in statement last month. “Since that time, WMU has been blessed with both lay and professional leadership who have nurtured and developed this dream while staying true to WMU's original purpose.”

Even today, the WMU continues to look towards the future to, according the WMU Vision Statement, “challenge Christian believers to understand and be radically involved in the mission of God.”

WMU's main purpose is to educate and involve adults, youth, children, and preschoolers in the cause of Christian missions. Although originally geared towards women, girls, and preschoolers, both genders are active participants in WMU organizations and ministries today. These ministries include: Baptist Nursing Fellowship, Christian Women's Job Corps, International Initiatives, Missionary Housing, Project HELP, Pure Water, Pure Love, Volunteer Connection, and WorldCrafts.