For the past two-and-a-half days, the Association of Adventist Women has been meeting on the campus of Southern Adventist University in Collegedale, Tennessee. Ella Simmons, first woman general vice president of the world church, was the keynote speaker for the annual conference, with the theme of Women Mentoring Women.
Sandra Roberts, president of the Southeastern California Conference (first woman to be a conference president), also spoke to the group of about 30 women, along with a few men.
The conference included the Sabbath morning worship service in the Collegedale Church, where Southern University President Gordon Bietz preached candidly on the subject of abuse, using the story of Tamar, David’s raped daughter in the Bible. He talked about different forms of abuse, defining abuse as any controlling behavior that violates another person’s freedom, and warned us to be on the lookout and speak out. Studies show that we are not immune from abuse because we are “in the church.” On the contrary, our rates of abuse might be even slightly worse than the national average.
He mentioned this “new theology,” headship theology, and called it “heresy.” (A description Pastor Tara VinCross also used in her talk yesterday.) He said that religion can be used in abusive ways, and believing that one gender has approved-by-God power over another can lead to abusive, controlling behavior. He said that we must recognize abuse, talk about “the elephant in the room,” break the silence, take responsibility and remember that Jesus offers hope and healing.
A number of other passionate and articulate women spoke during the Association of Adventist Women Conference, and the women who attended were able to form friendships, network, share ideas and make plans together.
The conference ended this evening with a Women-of-the-Year Awards and Banquet, honoring Sandra Roberts for spiritual leadership and Freddie Harris for community service.
Tomorrow, Spectrum will publish additional coverage of the conference and the moving and inspiring presentations about mentoring and women in the church.
Image: Sandra Roberts and Freddie Harris receive Women of the Year awards. Photo courtesy of Tara VinCross.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/6345