VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 3/31/16)—On June 11, 1951, in Buffalo, New York, sixteen hundred women from the American Baptist Convention met to form the National Council of American Baptist Women, now American Baptist Women’s Ministries. Over 63,000 women’s names are on the original charter. On Saturday, July 23, 2016, American Baptist Women’s Ministries will celebrate this historic occasion with a 65th Anniversary Banquet at its national event for women and girls, “Dwelling, Discovering, Discipling/Dedicando, Descubriendo, Discipulando,” at the Hilton Washington Dulles Airport Hotel in Herndon, Virginia (Washington, D.C.).
A historical presentation will honor the important heritage of American Baptist women through the years, and banquet attendees will be invited to celebrate the present and look towards the future of the organization. The event will feature recognition of current and past executive directors and national presidents of the organization. Additionally, the national office is collecting names of women, still living, who signed the original charter; these women who acted on faith sixty-five years ago will also be honored. To contribute the name of a woman, still living, who signed the original charter, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with the name and contact information.
American Baptist Women’s Ministries has engaged in advocacy, education, and action around critical issues with impact upon women and girls since its inception. These issues include domestic violence, sex trafficking, immigration, race relations, interfaith dialogue, refugee resettlement, apartheid, arms control, poverty, hunger, and homelessness.
Executive Director Virginia Holmstrom referenced the organization’s recognized role in leadership development and mission support. “Since its beginning, the organization has empowered American Baptist women and girls to develop leadership skills and to engage in mission work in the United States and around the world. I often hear women and girls attribute their leadership experience in the denomination to the training and encouragement they received from American Baptist Women’s Ministries. Participation in mission support programs that began long before the birth of the American Baptist Women’s organization—White Cross (1919) and Love Gift (1931-32)—continue today as legacies of AB women. Through the organization’s national mission projects and initiatives, American Baptist women and girls have earned respect for directing national and international attention to issues that rob women and girls from living out God’s purpose for their lives; they have addressed gender-injustices with outspoken advocacy and by partnering with organizations to overturn the oppression of women and girls. For all of these reasons, I am proud to be an American Baptist woman.”
“It was ABW that in 1968 convened the very first conference on Women in Church-Related Professions which examined the role of women throughout the denomination, raised consciousness, and advocated for increased inclusion of women in leadership and professional ministry. Out of this ultimately grew the Study on Women in Ministry (S.W.I.M.) Project, which became a watershed moment in the life of the denomination,” notes Rev. Dr. Patricia Hernandez, national director of American Baptist Women in Ministry (ABWIM). “I owe my own ministry formation and current role to American Baptist women who identified my gifts, nurtured my call, and continually gave me opportunities to develop and use my gifts.”
ABC Interim General Secretary Susan Gillies commented, “My story is incomplete without the role ABW Ministries played in it. I was deeply influenced by my mother being part of the transition from women’s missionary societies to the ABW Ministries we know today. I would not have served as Interim General Secretary, or as a Regional Executive Minister, or as an officer of the Home Mission Societies if I had not been recruited to first serve on the ABW Board long ago. I thank God for ABW Ministries.”
For more information about the July 2016 national event for American Baptist women and girls, Dwelling, Discovering, Discipling / Dedicando, Descubriendo, Discipulando, and the 65th Anniversary Banquet on July 23, visit: www.abwministries.org/events.
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.