TED Women in Ministry Retreat provides breathing space, facilitates rejuvenation

Inspiring preaching, insightful workshops, helpful networking—but most of all—time! For female pastors, Bible workers and administrators across the Trans-European Division (TED), the opportunity to meet, relax and share at the TED Women in Ministry retreat was, for them, a godsend.

“It was a timely retreat, full of fellowship, a refill of energy and optimism, with speakers that shared positive, uplifting messages, but also the challenges of being a female in church ministry,” states Marianne Dyrud, Executive Secretary and Youth director for the Danish Union. Following the weekend of meetings, 15-18 November, in the relaxed sea-side atmosphere of Hotel Splendid in Bečići, Montenegro, she appreciated the ‘space’ given for women in ministry to pull aside from busy and often stress-filled lives, to “have a breathing space as a place to rejuvenate, get energized and where we could minister and support each other in the ups and downs of ministry.”

That was the intention of the weekend, according to TED Ministerial director, Patrick Johnson. He was one of only five men to participate in the conference alongside 110 women who travelled from countries such as Iceland, Norway and Finland in the far north, the British Isles and the Netherlands in the west of the TED, and Poland, Hungary, the Balkans, Greece and Cyprus further south and east. Throughout the weekend that myriad of languages and cultures blended together as the women found others who faced similar challenges and solutions and who, often spontaneously, could lift each other up in prayer.

“New friendship connections have been made that, if nurtured, will continue throughout their lives,” Johnson stated, noting how beneficial it was for the women to share experiences together, both pleasurable and painful, as a much-needed healing activity. He is planning an online forum that can also provide them with additional support.

“We had a fairly flexible program which we could adapt according to need,” Johnson stated. That was essential as, after a positive Sabbath morning of testimony under the theme, ‘God is so good’, one pastor shared the challenge of broken ministry together with her ministerial husband as they experienced loss together. Rather than the normal end to Sabbath morning worship this led to groups sharing and praying together in an outpouring of emotion and love.

That continued during the afternoon as women met informally or headed out to enjoy nature, either along the seafront or, for some, a climb up the mountain towards an olive grove and a 2,000-year-old tree, an expedition led by Family Ministries director, Karen Holford.

“One thing that struck me as being particularly helpful was the gift of time to be together as women in ministry, without lots of distractions and things to do,” Holford reflected. “The more time we were together, the deeper the conversations became, as the women shared their joys and their struggles, their questions and their dreams.”

Women in leadership, particularly pastors, often work alone so a retreat where they can be together with other women who share similar experiences, thoughts and emotions proved highly beneficial. As one participant commented, “we feel more supported, better understood, our challenges are shared, and we can pray together.”

The preaching was also intentional. Marjukka Ostrovljanović cares for a pastoral district in Bavaria, Germany. She is from Finland, her husband Mike, also a pastor, is from Serbia and ministers in the district next door. With this multi-cultural background and a deep love for the Hebrew scriptures, she was well qualified to dig into Old Testament themes. Reflecting that ‘God is so good’, she shared the story of Job and his recognition of God’s presence even when He seemed far away. In a side note she also pointed out his increasing understanding of equality across the 42 chapters of the book, stating that with his second set of children, his daughters gain an inheritance along with his sons.

In later worships, she indicated how Deborah was the one person who did what is right and as such could be identified as ‘blessed is she’. How Jael went against her husband’s treason to save Israel, staying loyal to God, and in her final presentation, how the promises of the Messianic passages of Isaiah 49 can be applied to our own lives, even when the call we know is from God appears to be opposed by others. Sharing her own testimony in moving from Finland to other cultures that are not so gender inclusive, she recalled herself asking, “Do I really want to work for a church like this?”

Her answer came from a colleague working at World Church headquarters. “Stay strong. The Church did not call you, God did.” Pastor Ostrovljanović reminded the women that “Before I was born, the Lord called me,” (Isaiah 49:1) and that even when we think we may have labored in vain (vs 4), “my cause in in the Lord’s hand.

“I loved the way she got such insights into well-known Bible stories, taking you with her,” states Clair Sanches-Schutte, TED Women and Children’s Ministries director. “It was such a blessing.” One lady told her, “This weekend was excellent. Quite often when I go to something like this, my mind is reached but this time, I felt my heart and mind were reached and that was a double benefit.”

The personalized, narrative preaching style of the female pastors seemed to carry the weekend. TED Executive Secretary Audrey Andersson used drone footage to highlight that God’s view is higher than our view, and that He brings promise and hope even in a story such as that of Hagar.

Lolly Fontaine, associate pastor of Stanborough Park church in the UK, animatedly and with great humor, related her own experiences to that of Moses and his face-to-face encounter with God. Moses could be considered a failure when, after all his leadership and teaching, Aaron builds the golden calf in his absence.

Sometimes in ministry our hopes and dreams come crashing down and we may even doubt our calling. Pastor Fontaine noted that Moses was very human. You see his emotions come through in the story, disappointment, sorrow, apathy, even rage. But in those moments of disappointment you also find his solution. Entering the tabernacle tent, he talks with God as to a friend (Exodus 33:11) and then pleads, “teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you.” (vs 13)

“Run into the tent,” Fontaine challenged, “It is our only option,” concluding with a thought from theologian N. T. Wright, “Prayer is the place where heaven and earth meet.”

Dr Daniel Duda was the only male pastor to speak during the weekend. His presentation, ‘Reading the Bible as a story’ helped the women to understand that the narrative behind a text may strongly inform our 21st century minds as to the meaning and context of the verse. This is particularly true of some of the more difficult Bible verses that, on their own, seem to contradict other parts of Scripture, such as prescriptive advice in 1 Timothy 2 clashing with the gifted empowerment of 1 Corinthians 12.

That deeper thinking helped inform Ansku Jaakkola’s very personal Sunday morning presentation, ‘Christ, His Dangerous Church and I’. Using real-life and often personal accounts, she prayerfully dealt with issues such as abuse and conflict, giving space for recognizing that we are less than perfect, as is His church.

“We created a very safe space to talk together. Nothing was out of bounds,” remarked Holford. “We could be courageous and vulnerable together and cry and pray together. I felt too tired to come, but I am so glad I did. I have connected deeply with others spiritually and emotionally and it was surprisingly healing. I am leaving so refreshed, inspired and encouraged.”

“I was personally touched by the authenticity and openness of expressions during worship, discussions and personal exchanges,” states Pastor Raafat Kamal, TED President. He came simply as an observer and to show support for both the women present and the many more who serve across the Division as ministers, directors, administrators and Bible workers.

“There was a high octane of positive energy that I rarely witness at other meetings that I attend,” Kamal stated. “We praise God for the service and witness of our women within the TED. They are precious in God’s eyes and in their ministry for Him.”

This article was written by Victor Hulbert and originally appeared on the Trans-European Division website.

Photo courtesy of Victor Hulbert.

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/10047
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Praise God! There are a few church leaders who recognize that the
Holy Spirit is an Equal Opportunity Employer.
He uses each one’s [man and woman] unique gifts that they bring.
There are Many Gifts that each one has that have not been discovered
by each person. The Spirit, over time, allows us to become aware of
them. To play with them, to develop them into a strong part of our
enjoyment and use.
Jesus only said, “Go!” All Jesus asks for is to Step on the Path.
We need more Leadership who will call ALL to step on the path as these
wonderful ladies did. And to allow the Holy Spirit to multiply the unique
Gifts they have to offer that were given them at conception.

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I’m proud of the TED. Apparently they are not afraid of Ted Wilson and did not accept being intimidated either by the Kompliance Komrades Kommittees or by those idiotic “warnings & reprimands.”

I wish ther regions could do the same, sending a strong message to the GC showing that they do not condone discrimination of women. and are not afraid of those “grave consequences” threats.

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Read the first five words in the title and suddenly got curious.

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G-
TED
Ted
One could get confused. LOL!

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:sweat_smile: :cold_sweat:
Yes, one has to be careful these days, not to confuse things like that … LOL

I can’t imagine how many people read the article motivated by that same curiosity… LOL

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The NEWEST thing on Fulcrum 7–
Linking women ordination with Anti-trinitarianism preaching.

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As someone told me in church yesterday, “Who are those Fulcrum7 people? They are so sick!”
Indeed!

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Can’t wait for NAD to follow suit. Will they? Could they?

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Probably would have to be a “grass roots” event and not an
officially sponsored and paid for NAD event.
Probably too much opposition to get an NAD Committee to Vote
to allocate the funds for the event.
It would be good if they did develop an Association of Women
Pastors to provide Conversation among themselves regarding
Women Pastors Issues.
And develop a program to inspire other women who feel called
to join them.
There is a need for even many “lay pastors” to go out in the
community. A real need is among the homeless. Just to talk to
them and to pray with them about their conditions.

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Regarding “Junia”, here is an observation.
“But sometime in the Middle Ages, apparently before the 9th Century,
it was decided that a woman apostle was unthinkable. This offended
the male monopoly of church offices and honors that had grown up by
that time, so Junia had to be erased from history. It took only a little
smudging to do this. Paul uses her Greek name “Iounia”, in the accusative
case, “Iounian”. A mere change of accent markings [a circumflex
over the last vowel] would make it the accusative form of a hypothetical
male name, “Iounias”. But there is one problem here. “Junias” is ONLY a
hypothetical name – it never occurs at all in the ancient literature and
inscription – whereas “Iounia” is a common name, occurring hundreds of times.
Beside, the other teams Paul mentions in Romans 16 are male-female ones –
Aquila and Prisca, Philogus and Julia, Nereus and Olympas – with the
exception of a female-femal one [Tryphanena and Tryphosa, probably
sister Sisters]. We know from Paul’s reference to Peter and the Lord’s brothers,
who traveled with their wives, that male-female evangelical teams were
common [1 Cor 9:5]. Only the most Soviet-style rewriting of history could
declare Junia a nonperson and invent a new team. Andronicus and the
philologically implausible Junias. Paul was generous to his female coworkers,
a title he proudly gave them.” – Paul Wills, “What Paul Meant”, 92,93.

,PS- the SDA church is “anti-Catholic” but a number of our traditions are
left overs from our Catholic brethren traditions. Anti-women is just one.

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I am encouraged with this article and the support provided our sisters in Gospel Ministry by the TED. It boggles me that the likes of TW and many others have minds so small there’s no room for everyone who is called to serve, and there’s no support in their tiny little hearts for our sisters who serve so admirably.

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I visit web sites on both sides of the WO issue; and like EGW had stated about the law in Galatians that her Guide said to her, "Neither have all the light upon the law, neither position is perfect

“He said that the work of Christ upon the earth was to undo the heavy burdens and let the oppressed go free, to break every yoke; and the work of His people must correspond with the work of Christ. He stretched out his arms toward Dr. Waggoner, and to you, Elder Butler, and said in substance as follows: “Neither have all the light upon the law, neither position is perfect.” “Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart” [Psalm 97:11]. There are hundreds that know not why they believe the doctrines they do. (1888 93.2)”

A brief search of EGW writings with the words “both men and women” will reveal clearly, that God’s will is to call to gospel work pastors, “both men and women”…! These both in her day were licensed and credentialed full time laborers and to receive equal pay for equal work.

While there may be continued contention over “ordination”… we may yet need to learn that our opinions about this rite is unduly significant…

“…the rite of ordination by the laying on of hands was greatly abused; unwarrantable importance was attached to the act, as if a power came at once upon those who received such ordination, which immediately qualified them for any and all ministerial work…” GW 442

I am very encouraged by the report of this retreat; and may these extend to all Divisions where it will not cause undue conflict it the general culture — yet, let education on this subject of God’s call to both men and women leaven the the Remnant Faith in these areas.

Lastly, women are by nature initially nurturers - much more effective than men generally - what great resources we have in our sisters to be more effective in nurturing our churches to grow in Grace and spiritual maturity. It is both men and women that God is more perfectly revealed than just one side to predominate. Churches have been ruined by a kind of male domination that leads to a moral failures that are not as likely with women pastors. Would it not be closer to God’s plan, to have a husband and wife pastoral team to minister and raise up churches?

I have no doubt, God will take His ship safely through these troubled waters and learn more about His Wonderful Character as we go… Maranatha…!

The more experienced an Adventist I become, the less I understand the increased paranoid dependence on EGW that our Church develops. When dealing with matters of common sense and decency, we don’t need a word of a prophet to figure out what is/not a socially right and acceptable behavior. We only need civility, respect, and maturity.

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Huummm… Yes, I think I know what you mean… “paranoid dependence…” In light of most of those opposed to WO, I know she is highly regarded, as do I, and thus my reference to her work is for those who appreciate the magnification she has on the Word for them. My personal use of her work is like a good pastor or teacher — the Gifts set in the church are for the edification of the saints. My strongest basis for thinking there is support for ordination of any calling is bible based only; although, the reasoning other people have expressed to more perfectly represent my understanding on a point, I find most convenient to use. A good pastor, teacher, or true messenger of God should mostly be used to take us to the Word “rightly divided.” It is not my intention to use the Bible or any of the instructional Gifts God has put in the church to “prove” anything… only as “evidence” for my present understanding to guide my life and build my faith for usefulness, assurance and joy.

Perhaps we’ll chat again on other topics in the future… I keep pretty busy with church life and the things retired people do… so, I don’t use much time for reading blogs, much less posting on them.

Maranatha…

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