VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 7/11/17)—American Baptist Women’s Ministries held its biennial Women’s Day event with morning and afternoon programming and lunch meal on June 30, 2017, the opening day of the ABCUSA Biennial Mission Summit at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland, Ore., with more than 220 in attendance. The event officially launched ABWM’s 2017-19 ministry theme, “Feel . . ./Siente . . .” with supporting scriptures from Luke 8:43-48; Acts 17:27-28 (NLT); 1 Samuel 2:1-11 (The Voice). The ministry theme was presented throughout the program in brief relationship-building activities led by Christina Turner, an ABWM’s Young Adult Ministries advisory team member; and Gail Aita and Deborah Malavé Díaz, national officers.
Bible study leader Rev. Dr. Marie Onwubuariri, regional executive minister of the American Baptist Churches of Wisconsin, posed the question, “What makes you feel secure?” during the morning and afternoon Bible studies drawing on Old and New Testament scriptures Amos 6:1-7 and Acts 17:22-31. She compared the difference between “living the American dream” and “living God’s dream” and then pointed attendees toward needed attention to issues of security for all peoples. Onwubuariri gave a compelling call to discover real security in following God’s will, which can be risky business when persons craft their lives, careers, and possessions to attain security. The challenge for persons serious about their walk in Christ, said Onwubariri, is to feel secure that they are walking only in God’s will for their lives, leaving the rest to God. She cited education as a privileged opportunity that carries with it a serious responsibility to the wider world.
Worship leader Rev. Kimberly Salico-Diehl, a musician and composer, led attendees in an astounding dramatic presentation of the scripture texts through song and responsive dialogue that she had composed for Women’s Day. Her worship leadership invited rousing response during congregational singing of choruses and hymns in a variety of languages.
Other elements of Women’s Day included the announcement of ABWM’s 2017 Shine the Light award to Maria Averhart, Helen Hawthorne, and Valerie Moore of St. John Missionary Baptist Church, Springfield, Ohio; special choral music by the Karen (Burma) Community Church of Greater Seattle; an offering for the national support of American Baptist Women’s Ministries; a Love Gift offering at the luncheon; and heartwarming recognition of ABWM Executive Director Virginia Holmstrom’s 16-year ministry as executive director; she will retire on March 1, 2018. The recognition of Holmstrom had been planned by Rev. Angel L. Sullivan, current national ABWM president, together with past presidents that had served during Holmstrom tenure.
Gail Aita and Deborah Malavé Díaz co-led the 2017 Women’s Day planning team staffed by Rev. Sandra Hasenauer, ABWM’s associate executive director. Wendy Clemmer, ABWM’s project/business manager, directed logistical details including resource sales, onsite registrations, and visual projection during the program. American Baptist women from Oregon and Washington generously volunteered their assistance with decorations, ushering, and services of hospitality.
Taped recordings of the Women’s Day morning and afternoon program sessions are available for purchase on CD and Mp3 from Dove Cassettes at http://www.dovecassettes.com/conferences/abc/abc17bien-mp3.html.
Two additional ABWM events preceded the Women’s Day program on Friday: alumnae of the national ABWM board and AB GIRLS National Leadership Team gathered for a breakfast reunion, during which Chris Marziale shared reflections from her ministry as the International Ministries consultant to ABWM from 2005 through 2016; and ABWM’s annual business meeting conducted by Rev. Angel L. Sullivan, national ABWM president. During the annual meeting, constituents elected three national officers and ratified the appointment of the incoming AB GIRLS National Leadership Team convenor, and approved a board-recommended amendment to the bylaws to assign responsibilities of Secretary to the executive director.
American Baptist Women’s Ministries is a Christ-centered ministry with a commitment to encourage and empower women and girls to serve God. For more information about American Baptist Women’s Ministries, visit www.abwministries.org.
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.