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Trademarks, national training top WMU executive board meeting

TALLADEGA, Ala. (BP)–The trademark of Southern Baptists’ two national missions offerings and recommendations related to the organization’s vision statement, national training events and a national project with Habitat for Humanity topped the January meeting of Woman’s Missionary Union’s executive board.

The board, meeting Jan. 11-15 at Shocco Springs Baptist Assembly, Talladega, Ala., addressed a variety of business matters, along with hearing reports from the WMU staff and the presidents and selected staff from the Foreign Mission Board, Home Mission Board and Brotherhood
Commission. Each session of the meeting also featured the testimony of a foreign missionary.

WMU’s plans to trademark the names, Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and Annie Armstrong Easter Offering, will be done in conjunction with the FMB and HMB, WMU Executive Director Dellanna O’Brien said during the board’s opening general session Jan. 11.

O’Brien noted the WMU executive board’s original decision to apply for the trademarks of the offerings’ names came in June 1995, when the board instructed her to approach the presidents of the two mission boards about applying for joint trademarks of the names.

The board’s 1995 action came in response to a scurry of activity earlier that year related to the FMB’s application to trademark the name, Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. The trademark application caused extensive negative reaction in some Southern Baptist circles.

O’Brien said that since June 1995, she and other national WMU staff have worked to fulfill the board’s directive. Although FMB President Jerry Rankin and HMB President Larry Lewis agreed to seek joint trademarks, WMU learned upon investigation that such trademarks were not legally possible.

The process that has evolved since then, she said, calls for WMU to hold the trademarks on the two offerings, while providing exclusive license agreements with the respective boards.

O’Brien said WMU and the FMB have finalized their agreement, but negotiations with the HMB are still under way. While not giving specific details, O’Brien said the agreements insure “WMU will do what we have always done” in promoting the offerings.

In an interview with The Alabama Baptist newsjournal, Rankin described the agreement with WMU as “super.” Noting he has “no question about the solid commitment of WMU in every level to the Foreign Mission Board,” Rankin said, “WMU is registering it (the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering), but the agreement assures that it will be used exclusively by the Foreign Mission Board … so it is a win-win situation. I think all of it reflects what our relationship is — probably stronger than ever.”

The recommendations related to WMU’s vision statement, national training events and a Habitat for Humanity project came from the executive board’s consultation committee. The committee, appointed in January 1996, serves in an advisory role to the WMU executive director and WMU national president on matters affecting WMU as a whole.

The first consultation committee, which will serve until June 1997, includes three state executive directors — Alberta Gilpin, Missouri; Beverly Miller, Alabama; and Betty Lynn Cadle, Minnesota-Wisconsin — and four executive board members — Ann Coffman, Florida; Donice Harrod, North Carolina; Peggy Hicks, Kentucky; and Donna Brewer, Illinois.

The committee’s recommendations, as approved, call for:

— revising WMU’s vision statement to read: “Woman’s Missionary Union challenges Christian believers to understand and be radically involved in the mission of God.” The WMU vision statement previously read: “Woman’s Missionary Union exists to enable churches and believers
to participate in introducing all persons in the world to Jesus Christ.”

The committee said its intention in revising the organization’s vision statement was for clarification. “We believe that this vision statement makes our purpose clear and easily stated,” said Wanda Lee, WMU national president, in presenting the committee’s report.

— forming a task force of state and national staff to develop a three-year collaborative plan to include training, enrichment and missions involvement, and that beginning in 1998, WMU discontinue the present process of national training in alternating years at Ridgecrest (N.C.) and Glorieta (N.M.) (Conference Centers) and National Training Events.

Lee said this recommendation recognizes the reality that week-long training events do not work anymore. With work and family demands, the majority of women will not take a week out of their lives to attend a training event. A more popular format for today’s woman entails three- to four-day events, she said.

The task force will be appointed by Lee and begin work immediately with the task of announcing training plans for 1998 within a few months.

— investigating the feasibility of a nationally coordinated project in partnership with Habitat for Humanity that includes ministry and witnessing projects and, if feasible, setting a launch date of 1999.

Like national training, this recommendation is in keeping with societal trends, Lee said. “Adults today like hands-on projects,” she said. “A construction project with Habitat for Humanity would allow WMU to offer a hands-on approach to missions involvement and to fulfill our desire to help women in poverty.”

In other business, the WMU executive board:

— approved the elements of “Project HELP: Violence,” WMU’s 1998-99 social issue. The project will carry the theme, “PAVE (People Against Violence Everywhere) the Way to Peace,” and will have as its purpose, “Recognizing we are engaged in spiritual warfare, we will educate and involve Christians in reducing violence and promoting peace.” The project will encourage education about violence and its causes and consequences; involvement in local ministries that attempt to reduce violence; and support and/or participation in an international project in a war-torn nation.

— approved expanding the Project HELP emphasis to a two-year project beginning with Project HELP: Violence, changing its dates to 1998-2000.

— approved the redesign of the Acteens Individual Achievement Plan, including the name MissionsQuest, for implementation in September 1998. The current Acteens’ plan is StudiAct.

— approved the 1998-99 Associational WMU Dated Design.

— recognized outgoing WMU vice presidents, who also serve as state WMU presidents in their respective state or regional conventions. Those recognized, with length of service and convention, were: Carol Amos, 1994-97, Alabama; June Holland, 1993-97, Maryland-Delaware; Sandra Nash, 1993-97, Mississippi; Debby Akerman, 1993-97, New England; Carolyn Ellenbrook, 1993-97, Oklahoma; Mildred Hart, 1993-97, South Carolina; Glenda Cook 1993-97, West Virginia; and Marilyn Pope, 1993-97, Dakotas. Paula Colquitt of Nevada was also recognized for her service as a vice
president from 1993-96. She was named WMU executive director for Nevada in 1996.
*Name changed for security concerns.

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