Because of expected ice storm on Sunday January 9, only 8:30 worship will take place onsite.

March 24, 2022

A Pastoral Word. . .

Pastor Mark Adams

March 24, 2022
As you know, we have begun our annual Spring Missions Offering. Our goal is $17,500 and half of your gifts will go to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering in support of NAMB (The North American Mission Board). With that in mind, I thought a story about Annie would be appropriate for me to share.

You should know that Annie Armstrong was a native of Baltimore and that she championed the cause of missions in the North American Continent.  What you may not know (I didn’t until I saw an article in our state Baptist magazine: Baptist Life Online written by Sela Ulmer) is that Annie enjoyed an unlikely friendship (for her day) with an African-American woman named Nannie Helen Burroughs. You can see both women in the picture above.

The following is an excerpt from Ms. Ulmer’s article:
“In 1897, Annie Armstrong, the recording secretary (ultimately executive director) of the Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU), auxiliary to the Southern Baptist Convention, met with Nannie Helen Burroughs, an up-and-coming leader in the National Baptist Convention (NBC).
Nannie and other NBC leaders hoped to establish a women’s auxiliary similar to the WMU within their convention and sought advice from Annie. During this meeting, the group created a development plan, and three years later, the Women’s Convention (WC) of the NBC was officially established.

What the meeting also did was form a friendship between these two women. While today this seems unremarkable, in 1897, it was exceptional. At the turn of the century, the Civil War was still recent history, racism and other forms of discrimination were the expected norm, and women did not yet have the right to vote. Annie was white, Nannie was black, and the conventions they represented were segregated. Annie was almost 50 and nearing the end of her public ministry. Nannie was a mere 20 years old and just beginning to step into the remarkable plans God had for her life.

Despite all these differences, they shared a desire that overshadowed their many differences: to equip women for ministry and see the gospel transform the world. This desire drew them together and ushered in a friendship that would defy societal norms. The foundation for this friendship had been laid years before these women’s meeting. Before she was called to lead WMU, Annie was actively involved in her community. Always one to cross barriers, she formed one of the first interracial home mission societies, a partnership between both black and white Baltimore churches. She was confident the most effective way to impact the community was by working together.

For Nannie, interracial cooperation was personal. The child of a former enslaved couple, she understood firsthand the struggles her community faced and the sting of injustice that was felt. From an early age, Nannie dreamed of opening a school for African American women. Through her tenacity and perseverance, that dream became a reality when she opened The National Training School for Women and Girls in 1909.

Built on similar passions, the unlikely bond between Annie and Nannie quickly grew, planting seeds of reconciliation and partnership. Through Annie’s and Nannie’s efforts, the WMU and the WC worked together to financially support African American female missionaries. Annie spoke multiple times at WC meetings and Nannie at WMU meetings. Through God’s work in these two leaders, white and black women came together to worship in a time when legally, they could not even use the same restroom.

In 1933, Nannie gave a speech titled ‘How White and Colored Women can Cooperate in Building a Christian Civilization.’ In this speech, she declared, ‘If the two races in the South ever join hands to wipe out ignorance, to remove misunderstanding, to glorify the things of the [Holy] Spirit, we will discover new and powerful leaders and will build here a civilization that will be Christian to the core.’ Nannie experienced firsthand the power of partnership rooted in the gospel over racial barriers and tensions, and she knew this power could change the world.”

As we have seen at Redland, the power of a group of Christians from diverse ethnic backgrounds can indeed change the world!  Join me in giving to the RBC Easter Offering for North American Missions so that this change can continue!

Keep the SON in your eyes!
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