Landmark holds evidence of selfless giving

Since 1984, a large white building has sat atop Missionary Ridge on New Hope Mountain beside Highway 280. For many years I traversed nearby, knowing little about this Inverness landmark.

Serving as the home of Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU), its 147,000 square-feet building has 12 meeting rooms and an auditorium available for lease. Also, the building contains offices, a publishing warehouse, museum and a collection of artifacts donated by missionaries –– tapestries, porcelain, wood carving and paintings –– some being centuries-old.

Each piece in the collection –– furniture, clothing, trunk or photo –– tells stories of dangerous journeys taken for the purpose of instilling eternal hope, providing help and education.

Every relic speaks of selfless giving, as in the life of China missionary Lottie Moon whose benevolence meant food, until her own death by starvation.

WMU, whose theme is “Change a Life, Change the World”, was founded in 1888 as an auxiliary to the Southern Baptist Convention for the purpose of stimulating missionary spirit and collecting funds for the mission boards.

More than $2.8 billion has been collected in its Christmas offering alone since inception. Its international headquarters in Inverness, shining as a beacon of hope, represents 50 states and 40 nations. The organization has a unique multigenerational legacy, one formed and successfully run by females.

Sept. 12–14, a Poverty Simulation Weekend is being held at WMU. This seminar, mostly for young adults, brings understanding and awareness to the plight of the homeless.

“The weekend’s purpose is to try and understand the day-to-day challenges of the poor. There’s so much one can do to help,” says Julie Walters, communication specialist for WMU.

What distinguishes WMU from similar Christian organizations?

Its 120-year history and organizational design –– the WMU Board is made up of grassroots members and the administration is made up of women.

Our world has grown smaller in 2008, due to the Internet and ease of travel. Yet, before the current era dawned, WMU was already linked throughout the world by way of its support of global missions. You can see its history unfold in Inverness.

The Alma Hunt Museum and other missionary artifacts are available for public viewing by appointment, Mondays through Fridays from 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

To schedule a tour, call 205-991-8100. A gift shop is open for purchasing crafts from other cultures, as well as books by WMU’s publishing arm, New Hope. See www.wmu.com for more information.