VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 8/3/15)—American Baptist Women’s Ministries held the G.I.R.L.S. Leadership Academy in Overland Park, Kansas, in June, concurrent with the American Baptist Churches USA Biennial Mission Summit. The G.I.R.L.S. acronym stands for Girls in Relationship, Leadership, and Service, and designated the focus of the event.
The G.I.R.L.S. Leadership Academy offered the opportunity for girls aged 12-18 to discover how God has gifted each of them uniquely for leadership, build a supportive relationship with other girls and young women to help them on their journey of faith, and witness the model of leadership provided by young adult women and older women during the event.
Keynote speaker Jasmine Turner, senior broadcast journalism major at Elon University in Elon, North Carolina, and Mary Burnett, a freshman at Kalamazoo College in Kalamazoo, Michigan, provided Bible study experiences and workshops to help girls develop their self-confidence, understanding themselves as God’s creation and learning how to raise their voice in advocacy. Members of the national leadership team Emilie Rodriguez, Kennedy Cooper, and Celine David provided opportunities for relationship-building, team-work, and skill building on such topics as “writing to change the world,” and “the art of public prayer.” Music, led by Hornrette Washington, Minister of Music Emeritus at the Antioch Baptist Church of Corona, New York, provided a framework of worship and praise to the whole event.
Attendees of the G.I.R.L.S. Leadership Academy also participated in Women’s Day, sponsored by American Baptist Women’s Ministries, as well as a worship service of the Biennial Mission Summit and a session of Mission Summit table conversations. Through these two events, G.I.R.L.S. Leadership Academy participants were able to understand themselves as part of the larger family of American Baptists and express their own opinions and concerns through conversation.
AB GIRLS National Leadership Team convenor Emilie Rodriguez, in writing about the event for the AB Women’s Ministries blog “In Their Shoes: Women Walking with Women Worldwide,” said, “We hoped to send these girls in their own leadership paths, trying to illuminate God’s plan for each and every one of them. And while I feel we accomplished that, I think we accomplished something even greater: we showed them that they are worthy of being used as God’s servants, as conduits for God’s Word.”
ABWM Executive Director Virginia Holmstrom remarked, “What a blessing for the wider ABC community at the Mission Summit to interact with these young leaders. Likewise, the G.I.R.L.S. Leadership Academy participants spoke highly about their engagement in Mission Summit conversations on topics that were important to them.”
For more information about AB GIRLS, American Baptist Women’s Ministries ministry with girls and young women aged 8-18, visit www.abwministries.org/girls.
American Baptist Women’s Ministries is a Christ-centered ministry with a commitment to encourage and empower women and girls to serve God.
American Baptist Churches USA is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with over 5,200 local congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.