The war of words regarding the past, present, and future relationship between Woman’s Missionary Union of North Carolina (WMU-NC) and the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSCNC) continues.

On the evening of Dec. 4, friends of WMU-NC sponsored nine rallies in churches scattered across the state, hoping to explain why the organization believed it was necessary for its staff to leave the building and set up its own payroll system in order to reclaim its autonomy as an independent organization.

Three days later, BSCNC officials posted and mailed a lengthy letter over executive director Milton Hollifield’s signature, reiterating the state convention’s position that WMU-NC started the unfortunate tiff by changing its governing documents in April 2006, and insisting that bylaw and insurance requirements require the executive director to assert final authority over WMU-NC staff as long as they are considered to be BSC employees.

The document purports to answer important questions about the debacle, and rehashes the Convention’s perspective on a number of issues, even as WMU-NC representatives spoke from their perspective at the recent rallies.

Two very important questions remain unanswered, however. First: will BSCNC officials continue to work cooperatively with WMU-NC as an autonomous partner when they no longer have final say over WMU-NC’s staff and budget? Although WMU-NC has consistently declared its desire to continue promoting missions and supporting missions education through BSCNC churches, Convention officials (supported by BSCNC messengers) have indicated little desire to maintain a working relationship.

This leads to the second question: what does the BSCNC plan to do with the $384,695 added to the 2008 North Carolina Missions Offering for “Missions Education and Promotion”? Missions education and promotion have been WMU’s major tasks through the years, and no one is better equipped for the job of promoting missions offerings than WMU, the organization that created and holds trademark rights to the “Lottie Moon Christmas Offering” for international missions and the “Annie Armstrong Easter Offering” for North American missions.

A messenger raised the question of how the convention plans to use its newly designated funds for “missions education and promotion” during budget discussions at the annual meeting in November, but no one answered it.

I suspect we might find indications of what to expect from another article recently posted on the BSCNC website: “BSCNC announces support of 2007 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.” Now, it shouldn’t be news that the BSCNC supports the annual Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. The notable thing is that the BSCNC is now promoting the offering rather than leaving it to WMU-NC.

The next to last paragraph appropriately includes this explanatory sentence about how promotion of the mission offerings are supposed to work:

The official process – as determined by the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention and the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (in similarity to all state conventions across the SBC) – stipulates that the Woman’s Missionary Union of each state will promote and work to raise awareness of the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering in concert with the churches in each state convention.

Did you get that? The “official process” is that “the Woman’s Missionary Union of each state will promote and work to raise awareness of the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering in concert with the churches in each state convention.” That is absolutely correct.

But, the very next paragraph directs persons wanting more information about the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering to contact the BSCNC’s Cooperative Program consultantnot WMU-NC.

And therein may lie the answer to both of our questions.

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