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Breast cancer survivor, missionaries slated for WMU sessions in Phoenix

PHOENIX (BP)–A variety of speakers and opportunities to meet Southern Baptist missionaries will be featured during the Missions Celebration of Woman’s Missionary Union prior to the 2003 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Phoenix.

With the stage set June 15-16 in Arizona at the Phoenix Civic Plaza, WMU’s keynote speaker will be Brenda Ladun, award-winning news anchor, author and breast cancer survivor.

In her book “Getting Better, Not Bitter,” Ladun writes about her spiritual transformation through her battle with breast cancer. For her pioneering work in bringing breast cancer awareness to television viewers, she received national awards from the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation and the American Cancer Society. She also has won six Associated Press awards and an Emmy nomination for best anchor. Ladun, who ran a marathon within a year of her diagnosis, is currently training to climb Mt. Kilamanjaro with other cancer survivors.

“I believe your worst nightmares can lead to your greatest blessings,” Ladun likes to say. As a strong Southern Baptist, she credits her family, Christian friends and most importantly her faith in God with seeing her through her struggle with cancer.

“Brenda is such an inspiration,” said Wanda Lee, WMU executive director/treasurer. “As she shares her touching story, she relates firsthand how God can use our struggles and adversities to strengthen our faith, and through these difficult times, He can supply us with a peace that truly surpasses our understanding.”

Other leaders of WMU’s Missions Celebration will include Karla Worley, author, musician and worship leader; Debra Berry, author and WMU ministry consultant for African American audiences; Mary Kaye Wonner, worship leader; and Janet Hoffman, WMU national president. In addition, personnel of the North American Mission Board and International Mission Board will be featured during each session of the meeting.

Building on the theme, “Answer His Call”, sessions begin at 2 p.m. on Sunday, June 15, and conclude Monday evening. No pre-registration is required and there is no charge to attend. Childcare will be provided.

Along with four plenary sessions, WMU also hosts three one-hour conferences on Monday, June 16, featuring a variety of topics, including WMU age-level programs such as Girls in Action and Acteens and various WMU ministries. Some conferences will be in Spanish.

In addition, WMU will host two special events this year as part of the Missions Celebration.

The first is a reception on Sunday, June 15, at the Phoenix Civic Plaza for attendees to meet NAMB and IMB field personnel and hear their inspiring stories. Later that evening will be a Legacy Dessert Party at the Wyndham Hotel, a new event hosted jointly by WMU and the WMU Foundation. In the past, both WMU and the WMU Foundation have hosted individual events that celebrate the legacy of missions.

“Since both these events celebrate the past while looking forward to our future, we are excited to link these two at this year’s meeting,” said David George, WMU Foundation president.

This is the only element of the WMU program that requires pre-registration. To register, send $7 per person to WMU Foundation, P.O. Box 11346, Birmingham, Ala., 35202-1346. It should be received no later than May 15.

For additional information on the 2003 WMU Missions Celebration, call 1-888-968-0322 or visit www.wmu.com/annualmeeting.