On Friday, June 24, the pre-Biennial Women’s Day in San Juan, Puerto Rico, focused on the theme, “Uplifted by the Potter’s Hands / Exaltadas en el Poder de Dios,” based on Jeremiah 18:6. Highlights were a bilingual Bible study by Rev. Yamina Apolinaris, executive director of Corporación Milagros del Amor in Caguas, Puerto Rico, and the Niñas Bautistas Americanas (AB GIRLS of Puerto Rico) who performed liturgical dance and dramatic presentations during the afternoon worship celebration. Included in the event were the launching of “Break the Chains and Stop the Pain,” AB Women’s Ministries 2011-2014 national mission focus on issues oppressing women and girls globally, and a celebration of $187,689 in new gifts in two-year’s time to AB Women’s Ministries 60th Anniversary Endowment Fund Campaign, which concluded this summer.
The annual National Women’s Conference and National Gathering for Girls were held concurrently, July 16-22, at the Green Lake Conference Center in Green Lake, Wisconsin. The National Women’s Conference theme, “In the Potter’s Hands / En Las Manos del Alfarero”, based on Jeremiah 18:1-6, featured Bible study leader Rev. Karen Yee of San Francisco, California, and worship leader Hornrette Washington of Corona Park, New York. Grace Johnson, a potter from Wilmar, Minnesota, provided a visual interpretation of the theme during opening worship. Conferees were able to explore how they are shaped by the Potter’s hands through worship, workshops, mission experiences, and fellowship throughout the week, and were encouraged in the closing session to become involved in alleviating forms of violence suffered by women and girls worldwide, a focus of the “Break the Chains and Stop the Pain” initiative. Peggy Johnson of N. Kingstown, Rhode Island, led a communion service during which she invited attendees to gather with the Samaritan woman at the well to receive a cup of living water from Jesus. During the conference, Executive Director Virginia Holmstrom was the guest at a surprise reception honoring her ten years of ministry with AB Women’s Ministries.
The National Gathering for Girls included girls in 6th through 12th grades and their adult leaders, exploring the theme “Mountaineers,” based on Romans 12. With Bible encounters led by Rev. Karen Selig of Royersford, Pennsylvania, and worship encounters led by Rev. Mona Bagasao of St. Petersburg, Florida, participants were encouraged to become mountaineers of faith. Highlights of the week included two days of mission: one day serving at the Milwaukee Christian Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and a second day participating in a series of mission “stations” creating White Cross supplies for overseas sites, including bandages, puppets, flannelgraphs, and motor-skill-building booklets for developmentally delayed persons.
Executive Director Virginia Holmstrom said, “I have to admit that in spite of the ‘tight planning crunch’ to host three national events within a month’s time, each one brimmed with excitement, inspiration, and just plain fun. The spirit of enthusiasm and energy among the participants makes me truly excited about the direction that God is leading AB Women’s Ministries’ denomination-wide ministry with women and girls.”
Plans for the 2012 National Women’s Conference to be held July 21-26 at the Millenium Maxwell House hotel in Nashville, Tennessee, are underway. The National Gathering for Girls will be on hiatus in 2012 to encourage girls to attend Immerse, sponsored by American Baptist Home Mission Societies; plans for the 2013 National Gathering for Girls have already begun. For more information, visit American Baptist Women’s Ministries’ website at www.abwministries.org.
American Baptist Churches is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with 5,500 local congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.