By Nerida Bates, with Faith Hoyt | September 2020
The Association of Adventist Women (AAW), in partnership with the Loma Linda University church, has put together a series of six Sabbath vespers programs addressing leadership called “Finding Purpose in Uncertain Times.”
Women speakers from Africa, Australia, Europe, and the United States will gather virtually to share their combined expertise. The series begins Oct. 10, with lead speaker Linda Becker from Union College defining leadership as finding our purpose. A discussion facilitated by Ella Simmons, vice president of the General Conference, will follow, with panelists Andrea Luxton, president of Andrews University; Helen Staples Evans, senior vice president for patient care services at Loma Linda University Health; and Olive J. Hemmings, professor of religion at Washington Adventist University.
“Because the gospel commission calls everyone to share Christ, we believe all Christians will glean strategies of courage and persistence necessary in these uncertain times from this vespers series,” said Nerida Taylor Bates, president of AAW.
Subsequent vespers topics will highlight how self-care is essential for leading (Oct. 17), ministering to church communities (Oct. 24), how Jesus defines leadership as serving (Oct. 31), health promotion as a uniquely Adventist leadership role (Nov. 7), and how to create community (Nov. 14). The speakers are well placed to address the issues—from Gwendolyn Winston Foster’s fight against obesity as Philadelphia’s fitness czar to Jody Rogers story of how her quilting group pivoted to sew hundreds of face masks for local nursing homes.
The series focuses on advice for people leading during uncertain times, but the definition of crisis varies widely. Southeastern California Conference President Sandra Roberts will address moving church services online due to the pandemic. Ana Thompson Costescu will talk about how The Sabbath Sofa Project addresses evangelizing atheists. Joy-Marie Butler, founder of ADRA’s Keeping Girls Safe, will address the lack of adequate bathroom facilities in schools in Papua New Guinea, which puts girls at a disadvantage. Psychologist Rita Mercer will discuss the increased need for self-care for those witnessing racial injustice. Lori Barker, multicultural psychologist from Cal Poly Pomona, will address creating community, not just within groups but between diverse groups.
The international lineup of speakers includes representatives from Adventist Female Pastors of Africa and Pam Townend’s presentation on the South Pacific Division’s public health initiative “10,000 Toes.”
AAW takes full advantage of their online format’s global access. Though this did present an issue of how to be viewed in so many time zones, it was solved by using an on-demand format. The videos will be posted on the AAW website associationofadventistwomen.com, for Sabbath vespers viewing in all time zones.