By Shannon Baker, BCM/D National Correspondent
BIRMINGHAM, Ala.—The Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) was founded as an auxiliary to the Southern Baptist Convention for the purpose of “stimulating the missionary spirit” and “collecting funds” for the International and North American Mission Boards.
And for the past decade Wanda Lee has been the WMU’s national leader. Lee is one of the speakers for Connect 2010, the annual meeting of the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware, to be held Nov. 14-16 at the Sheraton Towson at 903 Dulaney Valley Road in Towson, Md.
She will also speak at the Ministers’ Wives Brunch and during a breakout session entitled, “Women: An Evangelism Force.”
Sharing excitement about speaking at the BCM/D’s 175th anniversary, Lee noted that Annie Armstrong began WMU in Baltimore 122 years ago. Much has changed since 1888.
Although WMU was originally an organization for women, today WMU engages all ages—both male and female—in missions. Approaches for missions involvement have changed with the times. Delivery methods continue to evolve. But one thing has remained a constant for 122 years—their singular focus remains on missions.
Along with its traditional role of promoting SBC missions, the auxiliary has in the last decade branched into new ministries including Christian Women’s Job Corps and Christian Men’s Job Corps to equip women and men for life and employment, and hands-on volunteer missions opportunities. They also have expanded their publishing arm, publishing 11 magazines and at least 25 books a year, and established a WMU Foundation, which last year took in more than $1 million.
In her extremely busy role as executive director/treasurer of the WMU, Lee divides her time between leading the 90-member staff in Birmingham and serving churches and other groups throughout the world.
“With today’s economic conditions, we’ve tried to be very good stewards,” Lee shared, explaining other changes within the organization. The staff is smaller, primarily from freezing positions vacated due to retirement, and has flattened in structure.
“Instead of a typical, hierarchal leadership structure, we have a flat, fluid structure with very little hierarchy,” she explained. Several groups, such as the missions resource center, the product development center that includes book publishing and WorldCrafts, and the support structure, are now clustered together with team leaders who meet regularly with Lee.
Lee also meets with the entire staff regularly to communicate vision and to encourage the missions focus, and travels to speak to different WMU organizations throughout the nation and every other year, overseas.
Lee also nurtures partnerships with teams at the two mission boards and has sought to be a great support to them in their times of transition.
“We’ve reached out to the interim presidents to let them know we’re their partners,” she said. “Our relationships have improved in that area because they know we are a true support for them and that we pray for them.”
Lee’s husband, Larry, is a former pastor, international missionary and endorsed chaplain of the North American Mission Board.
“It’s been a wonderful experience to be a pastor’s wife,” shared Lee. “That’s not to say there hasn’t been any challenges, but I believe what I will share will encourage women who find themselves in this role.”
Lee will share her personal journey as a pastor’s wife at the ministers’ wives brunch, to be held Monday, Nov. 15, at 9:45 a.m.
In the breakout session, “Women: An Evangelism Force,” Lee will discuss the unique ways in which women can share the Gospel and be a personal witness for Jesus.
To register for the Ministers’ Wives’ Brunch or to learn more about all the speakers, visit online at http://am.bcmd.org.