By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
GATLINBURG — Martha Pitts, a member of Germantown Baptist Church, Germantown, was elected the 30th president of Tennessee Woman’s Missionary Union on April 9.
Her election took place during the Tennessee WMU annual meeting held in conjunction with the annual Missions Get-Together and Connection held each year at the Gatlinburg Convention Center. The Get-Together is traditionally the largest gathering of adults in the state.
Pitts follows Bobby Turner of Knoxville who completed her fourth and final year as president.
Approximately 1,710 women and teenagers gathered for the April 8-10 event built on the theme of “Ready. Set. Go!”
The weekend event featured dozens of breakout conferences geared toward meeting the needs of the women and teenagers who attended as well as the churches they serve. Worship was a key feature for both the women and the teenagers who attended Connection. Connie Cavanaugh of Calgary, Canada, led a Bible study for the women while Cindy Townsend, executive director of Mississippi Woman’s Missionary Union, spoke to the girls.
In the opening worship session, TBC Executive Director Randy C. Davis reminded the ladies there are 3.5 million people in Tennessee who do not know Jesus as Lord and Savior. He challenged the women to share the gospel with others. “God wants us to be His heart, His hands, and His feet.”
Noting that loneliness is a concern for many people today, Davis observed that “people all over Tennessee want someone to come alongside them, to talk to them, and to lead them in a conversation that will radically change their lives. People don’t want to be alone.”
“We must lock arms together and focus on the Great Commission to reach the place where we see at least 50,000 people annually saved, baptized, and set on the road to discipleship by the year 2024,” he challenged.
Davis also spoke with the leaders and teens attending Connection, remarking that as members of Generation Z, the girls are placed where they are to be part of a movement of reaching their own generation for Christ.
Townsend, throughout the weekend, exhorted the girls to live a passionate life for Christ in their ordinary, every day lives, seeking to know and serve God.
During the Saturday morning business session, WMU Executive Director Vickie Anderson shared story after story of how WMU members across the state are making a difference in their communities, the state, and around the world.
“Let’s celebrate the things that God is doing through Woman’s Missionary Union in our state,” she said.
“Let’s get ready, set, and go, laboring together with God, to reach Tennessee, the nation, and to change our world,” Anderson challenged.
In addition to Pitts, WMU members elected Susan Kellough of First Baptist Church, Newbern as recording secretary and three regional vice presidents — Kathy Neely, Greenback (east); Yolanda Heuser, Crossville (middle); and Diane Sorrell, Covington (west). Seven promotional directors also were elected (see photos below).
Becky Sumrall, president of Begin Anew of Middle Tennessee and a former Tennessee WMU staff member, issued the charge to the new officers. She reminded the women “a leader’s job is to inspire people to work together in the service of something greater than themselves.”
Effective leaders, Sumrall said, share these habits or traits: they are positive, they are grateful for their team, they have a clear vision for the future, they listen, they are trustworthy, and they are passionate.
Sumrall challenged the officers to “never stop praying. … Pray that God will give us an opportunity to tell people His message.”
After her election, Pitts thanked WMU members for their support and reminded them they are an army. She encouraged them to take the WMU vision statement to heart: “We need to understand and to be radically involved in the ministry of Christ.”
Pitts was appreciative of Turner’s leadership over the past four years. “It’s hard to follow in Bobby Turner’s footsteps but I am excited about representing Woman’s Missionary Union,” she said.
During the meeting an offering of $9,444.40 was collected. Anderson said 90 percent of the offering will be used for the 2017 Missionary Kids (MKs) Re-Entry Retreat that will be hosted for the first time by Tennessee WMU. The retreat is held for rising college freshmen MKs and assists them in making the transition from the missions field to the U.S. and college life. The remaining 10 percent of the offering will be used for the Tennessee Touch Tomorrow Today endowment.
Those attending Get-Together and Connection also brought 4,884 packages of underwear and 6,554 pairs of socks for children, men, and women that will benefit homeless shelters, developmental centers, and other ministries across Tennessee.
All photos by Corinne Williams, unless otherwise indicated.