VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 2/21/17)—Virginia Holmstrom, executive director of American Baptist Women’s Ministries (ABWM), has announced her planned retirement next year on March 1, 2018. ABWM President Angel Sullivan has appointed a Search Committee, which hopes to hire a new Executive Director for the organization by late 2017.
Holmstrom has served in the role of executive director of ABWM, based in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, since August 2001. Prior to this, she was director of communications for the Board of Educational Ministries, ABCUSA, from 1990 to 2001. Holmstrom serves with the leaders of American Baptist Home Mission Societies, International Ministries, and MMBB Financial Services, along with the General Secretary of American Baptist Churches, on the National Executive Council.
“Virginia Holmstrom exhibits the joy of the Lord and a passion for service that has never waned during her years with American Baptist Women’s Ministries,” said Dr. Susan E. Gillies, interim general secretary of American Baptist Churches USA. “Virginia was already on the ABW board when I joined it in 1985. At that time I attributed her energy to her youth, but she is still as energetic as ever. I now see it as a gift of the Spirit. As American Baptists we owe her our thanks for her extraordinary service to AB Women’s Ministries and as a member of the National Executive Council of the denomination.”
“I have enjoyed the privilege of serving in AB Women’s Ministries with Virginia for over 15 years. Her passion and joy for her role has never flagged,” said Rev. Sandra L. DeMott Hasenauer, associate executive director of ABWM. “The empowerment of women and girls through the love of Christ is not just a job for Virginia, but a deeply embedded calling that she acts out in myriad ways. She has helped the organization continually reshape its understanding of its own calling by God during changing times and she has equally helped many women and girls discern their own unique calls as well. Her leadership has set the organization on an exciting path for the future.”
Widely recognized for leadership development of women and girls, AB Women’s Ministries and its AB GIRLS ministry cultivates vital partnerships to advance mission and ministry locally and globally. Holmstrom works with a board and staff to provide Christ-centered resources, events, and mission opportunities.
In 2014, Holmstrom led American Baptist Women’s Ministries to facilitate a cultural audit among constituent leaders, which prioritized pressing needs to reach out, engage, and communicate with its diverse constituency. The resulting “Beloved Community” initiative is reshaping how ABWM strengthens relationships, assures inclusive leadership, provides relevant and vital programming and ministries, and tools its leaders in cultural competency and responsiveness.
In 2012, ABWM’s Women and Girls Mission Fund was introduced by Holmstrom and the ABWM board to generate grant funding for mission projects at home and around the world that focus on bringing healing and hope to women and girls. The fund also provides support for leadership development of American Baptist women and girls, the AB GIRLS ministry, and the Refit program partnership with the American Baptist Home Mission Societies and International Ministries.
In 2007, Holmstrom introduced ABWM’s “Break the Chains: Modern Day Slavery in the 21st Century” initiative against sex trafficking. The project raised awareness and motivated women’s groups to minister to trafficked persons and at-risk populations in a variety of ways. The project received contributions of more than a half million dollars to begin 25 initiatives addressing the sexual exploitation of women and girls in the U.S. and other countries.
ABWM President Rev. Angel Sullivan said, “I first met Virginia Holmstrom over thirteen year ago at my first American Baptist Women of New York State Conference Convention. When we met I was nervous because I was meeting the Executive Director of ABWM, but was received with open arms and Virginia’s trademark smile. I have never seen Virginia without a smile, and I feel it is because of her genuine joy at being the Executive Director of ABWM. Virginia will be truly missed, but I wish her blessings as she focuses on her next call in life, which I am sure will include being a grandmother to her grandson, which she talks about with excitement and happiness.”
Holmstrom currently represents ABWM on the North American Baptist Women’s Union’s executive board and Church Women United’s common council.
Holmstrom received a bachelor’s degree in Christian Education from Seattle (Washington) Pacific University and a Master of Theological Studies from Eastern Baptist (now Palmer) Theological Seminary. She is a member of Exton Community Baptist Church in Exton, Pennsylvania.
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 approximately 5,000 congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.