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RA, Challengers staff named by WMU

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (BP)–WMU has announced staffing changes as the missions organization continues plans with the North American Mission Board to assume responsibility for resourcing Royal Ambassadors (RA) and Challengers.

RA, begun by WMU in 1908, is the Southern Baptist missions organization for boys in grades 1–6. Challengers engages young men in grades 7–12 in missions education.

Steve Heartsill, a former pastor, has been named managing editor for RA and Challenger resources. Heartsill was an RA as a child and has served at WMU the past 10 years as design editor of the missions leader resource team. In this role, he also serves as WMU’s liaison to NAMB and IMB, a responsibility he will keep in his new role.

“Over the years, Steve had built many relationships with state RA leaders and RA leaders in local churches,” said Wanda S. Lee, executive director of national WMU. “I am confident that his experience and leadership will facilitate a smooth and seamless transition of these missions organizations to WMU.”

Working alongside Heartsill with marketing initiatives will be Brett McArdle, marketing strategist for the children’s resource team at WMU, and Dick Bodenhamer, marketing strategist for WMU’s student resource team. In addition, Bruce Watford will serve as art coordinator for RA and Challengers resources.

Lee said she is excited about what these changes mean for the local church.

“With WMU producing these materials, it will be so much easier for churches to order all their missions education resources from just one place — WMU,” she said. “It will also provide us the opportunity to coordinate the girls’ and boys’ curriculum more closely, which is something I’ve heard requested by many children’s missions leaders.”

With many details to tend to, a transition team is in place at WMU and continues to work closely with NAMB’s communications team. For now, churches will continue to order curriculum and supplemental resources for RA and Challengers from NAMB. Beginning in 2012, WMU will send renewal notices for these curriculum pieces in May and will assume delivery with the September 2012 issues.
Julie Walters is the corporate communications team leader for WMU (Woman’s Missionary Union).