Who is the Adventist woman of the nineties? She is full-time mother, job holder, struggling single parent, widow, handicapped, spouse of a nonbeliever, single, financially secure, impoverished, divorced, abused, foster parent, church leader, childless, burned-out church volunteer, marginal member, newly baptized, executive, physically fit, daughter of God.
Although Adventist women widely outnumber men in membership numbers, we are essentially a male-dominated church structure, as evidenced by the small numbers of women in leadership at every level of the church from the local congregation to the General Conference.
This disparity alone could easily determine an agenda for 1995, the Year of the Adventist Woman. How ever, rather than focusing on inequity in 1995, women's ministries will focus on expanding the base of women who will work for the Saviour wherever and however their talents can hasten our Lord's return.
Specific global objectives for the Year of the Adventist Woman include six critical challenges facing women within and without the church. These are: illiteracy, poverty, threats to health coupled with poor health care, workday length, and abuse plus the lack of training, experience, and opportunities to participate in the church's mission. Worldwide strategies will address these issues and the way in which they impact women in each of the world church's divisions.
What the congregation can do
More significant, however, is what occurs in the local church where the everyday life of most women relates to Christ and His mission of extending the kingdom to every person. Every pastor and local church elder should determine an appropriate response for their congregation to the Year of the Adventist Woman. Try these doables:
Elect a women's ministries coordinator for your church. Appoint her to the church board, and establish a working committee to support her leader ship.
Meet with your women's minis tries coordinator. Pray together, identify needs, and seek workable ideas that meet objectives for your church.
Survey the women of your church to determine their needs and interests and to establish action priorities for what your members can accomplish.
Appropriate sufficient budget funding for your women's ministries team to serve effectively. It is unreasonable to expect women's ministries to serve without funding similar to other church programs.
Sponsor special events and pro grams, such as the International Women's Day of Prayer, March 4. Host special Sabbath programs that feature the work of women's ministries in your community. Recognize those who minister effectively.
Promote women's ministries in your sermons, newsletters, bulletins, and the homes of those whom you visit. Others will follow your example!
Nurture women in your church family by the ministry of faithful women members. "When a woman is in trouble, let her take her trouble to women." 1 Women can do a work in families that men cannot do, a work that reaches the inner life.
Utilize women in the evangelization of your community. "If there were twenty women where now there is one, who would make this holy mission their cherished work, we should see many more converted to the truth. The refining, softening influence of Christian women is needed in the great work of preaching the truth." 2
Distribute resource materials and promotional announcements that cross your desk to your women's ministries coordinator. Remember that the pas tor is often the only conduit of information from the wider organization.
Organize men's ministries in your congregation as well. Now is the time to emphasize the effective service of every group in the church.
1 Ellen G. White, Evangelism (Washing
ton, D.C.: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1946),
p. 460. (Italics supplied.)
2 Ibid., pp. 471, 472. (Italics supplied.)