Attendees encouraged to stay engaged all year
By David Dawson
Baptist and Reflector
Rather, it is the days, weeks and months after the conference that are the most significant, and the most satisfying, to Anderson, the executive director of Tennessee WMU.
“For me, the most exciting part is to see how individuals and churches respond to the way the Lord nudged them during the conference,” Anderson said. “To see churches getting involved with a ministry or getting deeper in Bible study or mentoring and ministering to someone — those are the stories that excite us.”
WMU has been hosting Missions Get-Together, the organization’s statewide conference, for 42 years. The event was combined with Connection, a weekend-long missions conference for girls in grades 7 through 12, in 2005.
Anderson said she has already begun to see the fruits stemming from this year’s event, which was held March 16-18 at Gatlinburg Convention Center.
“I am seeing a good number of churches who are following up from the conference,” said Anderson. “For instance, Caney Fork Baptist Church (in Cookeville) posted on Facebook a picture from City Reach with an invitation to prayerwalk in Nashville.”
Those types of “calls to action” are the focal point of the annual gathering, which attracted more than 1,000 attendees this year.
“We want to have a great event, where people come away feeling good, but if there is no action that takes place as a result of the conference, then that’s not really the point,” said Anderson. “We want to be more than just good event planners. We want to do things that the Lord can speak through and move people to reach out and lead more people to Christ.”
This year’s Missions Get-Together and Connection event focused on the theme “Stand Firm.” The three-day conference featured:
- A missions fair that included over 50 booths and enabled attendees to get involved with missions and ministry opportunities;
- Four worship services, including a joint service on Sunday that featured both sets of attendees (the women from Get-Together and the girls from Connection);
- Morning and afternoon breakout sessions that included more than 30 topics for attendees to choose from;
- A “Refugee Simulation Experience” that allowed attendees to better understand the hardships facing displaced individuals across the world (see related story);
- Numerous fellowship opportunities for both sets of attendees; and
- A silent auction that benefited the Tennessee WMU Touch Tomorrow Today Endowment;
Roc Collins, director of strategic objectives for the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board, attended the event for the first time. He served as a session leader, and said he was honored to minister to a group that has been a part of the fabric of Baptist missions work for more than 100 years, dating back to its inception in 1888.
“WMU is the backbone of so much of what we do as Baptists,” said Collins. “They are prayer warriors, first and foremost. Secondly, they help generate the funds — through Lottie Moon, Annie Armstrong and the Golden Offering for Tennessee Missions — that keep our mission endeavors in front of us. Not only through their giving, and their encouraging of churches to give, but through praying.”
Among the 1,495 total attendees (which included WMU personnel, volunteers and fair exhibitors) at this year’s conference, there was a nice blend of returnees and newcomers, Anderson said.
“I love seeing the pictures on social media of the groups who always make sure to gather around the sign (in front of the Convention Center), year after year,” said Anderson.
Collins said he was grateful that he was able to attend: “It was an awesome experience,” he said. “I really wasn’t sure what to expect because this was my first time, but man, I left encouraged. In fact, they might have encouraged me more than I encouraged them, to be honest.”
The attendees at this year’s event enthusiastically rallied around several evangelism and mission projects.
For instance, the attendees signed up in large number to be involved in the Pray4TN campaign — an initiative designed and developed by TBMB to encourage Tennessee Baptists to pray for their neighbors by name.
The attendees also showed their generosity and concern for those in need by giving $10,060 in an offering (90 percent of which will go toward Tennessee WMU’s missions efforts in Denver, and the remaining 10 percent going to the Touch Tomorrow Today endowment). In addition, the group provided enough school supplies to fill 521 backpacks that will be distributed to underprivileged children through City Reach Nashville, and raised $5,280 in the silent auction.
Anderson said she was pleased with almost every aspect of this year’s event, and heard positive feedback from many attendees.
“We’ve heard some attendees say that this was the best one yet,” said Anderson. “There are some who say that every year, and it’s always exciting to hear.”
“Our focus will always be about seeing what the attendees take away from the conference and how it encourages them to respond,” said Anderson. “Yes, we want them to have a good time. But if it just ends there, we have missed the whole point of what we are doing.”
TENNESSEE WMU OFFICERS ELECTED
The annual business session, which was held on March 17 during Missions Get-Together, included the re-election of Tennessee WMU president Martha Pitts, of Germantown Baptist Church. Here’s a complete list of the elected officers for 2018-19:
President – Martha Pitts
Recording Secretary – Charlyene Couey
East — Janice Lewelling
Middle — Colleen Richardson
West — Jeanette West
Regional Promotion Directors:
Northeast — Glenda Roach
East — Bobby Turner
Southeast — Lisa Condee
Central — Sharon Tyler
South Central — Linda Robbins
Northwest — Rhonda Poore
Southwest — Tammy Young
(North Central — Open)