Women's Ministries Emphasis Day 2023
England | Adventist.UK/News | Sharon Platt-McDonald | June 15, 2023
Why is a special day necessary for highlighting the impact and challenges of Women's Ministries?
"I came to faith in God through a Women's Ministries Day event!" This testimony was the enthusiastic response from Sarah, who accepted the invitation to attend an Adventist church and was so impressed by the Women's Ministries Emphasis Day program that she continued visiting each Sabbath. She subsequently undertook Bible studies and committed her life to God through baptism.
Is a Women's Ministries Emphasis Day necessary?
Women's Ministries Emphasis Day is an annual event, allocated on the second Sabbath each June and included on the worldwide Seventh-day Adventist Church Calendar of Special Days and Events.
The General Conference (GC) Women's Ministries website explains the purpose of the day:
"It is an opportunity for women to lead out in a worship service and a chance to educate the church regarding the purposes of Women's Ministries. It is an ideal time to introduce your leaders and committee to the church family and to invite women who have not been involved to join."1
GC Women's Ministries Director Heather-Dawn Small adds:
"WM Emphasis Day is a day for Seventh-day Adventist women to focus on the goals, issues and vision of the department. It is a time for us to give God thanks for all He has done and is doing for and through His daughters. It is also a time to spiritually refocus on what truly is important, and a relationship with Jesus is at the top of the list."
Working in the Women's Ministries department at the British Union Conference for the past 12 years has afforded me many opportunities to visit with women and churches across the UK and Ireland, as well as internationally, and experience first-hand, the impact of the annual Women's Ministries Emphasis Days.
Women have shared numerous testimonials of enhanced spiritual nurture and empowerment to develop and thrive in their ministry and personal lives and undertake relevant outreach interventions that meet diverse needs, improving countless lives. One woman shared with me – "Sharon, I feel so connected to the church on days like these where we get the opportunity to really contribute to the service and share on issues that impact our lives as women. That makes me feel valued."
Heather-Dawn Small reflects:
"I have seen that the WM Emphasis Day brings our sisters together. For that day we have one focus. We work together, worship together, praise together, and go out into the community to touch lives for God together. I love to see the many ways my sisters find to share God's love in community outreach on that day."
A significant and lasting impact, is seen in the way social issues impacting women, has been embraced by the GC Women's Ministries Department and resources provided to meet their varied needs.
Visit https://women.adventist.org/n-e-o-resources to see the materials provided to nurture, empower and outreach to women.
Women face six global challenges worldwide, and they are addressed through the Women's Ministries Emphasis Day and other initiatives. These are:
- Illiteracy (addressing education and literacy levels)
- Poverty (impacted by the global economy, urban migration, hunger, global conflict resulting in increasing refugees, increasing female head of households' status)
- Threats to health (poor health status, social demands on women, poverty impact, access to healthcare, maternal mortality, environmental deterioration, declining agricultural productivity)
- A woman's workload (high level of agricultural work undertaken by women in poorer countries, poor life balance, longer working hours for women, undertaking multiple roles)
- Abuse (incest, rape, domestic abuse, child pornography, child sex slavery/prostitution of girls, female genital mutilation, child marriage, physical, sexual and emotional torture)
- Lack of training, mentoring and leadership opportunities (limited scope for women's advancement, primarily in "supporting roles" in churches worldwide, access to leadership training and experience)
Visit https://women.adventist.org/six-challenge-issues to learn more about these issues.
In a recent discussion with Heather-Dawn Small, she explained the importance of addressing these six areas of challenge where the underlying factor is inequality and equity. Doing so has enabled the church to become more aware of its negative impact on women who suffer in these areas.
Some key areas where she has seen positive change have been in regions of the world where church members were still practicing polygamy. The men who felt it was their cultural right to have multiple wives were challenged that God's Word (scriptural directive of one man, one wife) superseded culture.
Focusing on what inequality does, is both sobering and impactful, as it ignites the realization that change is required. This is verified from research on 'Women, Inequality and the Church' from SAFER – a domestic and family violence resource for the Australian Christian community, which states:
"The evidence is in inequality, fixed gender roles and patriarchal teachings can help create church environments where abuse of women can thrive."2 This is unacceptable.
Women's Ministries Emphasis Day 2023
The theme for this year's emphasis was titled: "A Love That Precedes One's Choices." The resource package was written by Margery Herinirina, Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division Women's Ministries director. The full resource package can be accessed here.
Celebrating this year's theme of God's love, the South England Conference (SEC) Women's Ministries department presented a packed program to a capacity audience on Sabbath, June 10, at the Dominion Centre, London. A moving sermon by guest speaker, Heather-Dawn Small, was delivered on this theme.
In the Sabbath School segment, God's love was exemplified through reports of the impactful work of the Women's Ministries department seen through diverse outreach to the community.
A full report on the day's event will be presented by SEC Media and the Women's Ministries department in a forthcoming publication.
Ellen G. White advised: "The Lord has a work for women, as well as for men....They can come close to the hearts of those whom men cannot reach.3
Discipleship and spiritual nurture are the key focus for the inclusion of women in ministry:
"The Department of Women's Ministries exists to uphold, encourage, and challenge Adventist women in their pilgrimage as disciples of Jesus Christ and members of His world church."4
I pray that we will embrace women in ministry in a way that reflects Christ's example of love, equality, equity and justice.
Photo credit: BUC WM
Written by Sharon Platt-McDonald, director of Women's' Ministries, Health and Community Ministries for the British Union Conference
Originally posted at Adventist UK news
Published in Mosaic newsletter, 2023 Q3