A Ministry for Every Woman is as ancient as the Old Testament. The first recorded "ministry" by a woman is found in Genesis 18:6 when Sarah prepared a meal for visiting strangers. A few chapters later in Genesis 24:19, compassionate Rebekah, profoundly impressed yet another stranger by offering to water his thirsty camels, a daunting act that changed the course of her life.
Ellen G. White referred to a New Testament example when she said, "All who work for God should have the Martha and the Mary attributes blended—a willingness to minister and a sincere love of the truth. Self and selfishness must be put out of sight. God calls for earnest women workers who are prudent, warm-hearted, tender and true to principle...."¹
More contemporary history is full of the deeds of benevolent women—the concept of "women's ministry" is nothing new. Yet, as I remember it, a unique wave of interest and enthusiasm in women's ministries moved from northern California into the Northwest in the late 1980s. I was living in Spokane, Washington, and we wanted to be a part of the exciting things beginning to happen in Idaho and Oregon. Cheri Corder and I asked several friends to join us in planning the first spiritual retreat for women in the Upper Columbia Conference for late September 1988 at Camp MiVoden.
We were advised it would take a year of planning. It was already late July. What could possibly take a whole year? We would think small—possibly 50 women. No one was more shocked than our committee when 275 women registered, with a surprising number bringing non-church member friends. This added another dimension—evangelism.
The weekend exceeded everyone's expectations—the atmosphere was electric. (Sorry, men, it's a female phenomenon. We are the gender who loves time together so much that we join our friends for a trip to the restroom!)
As the women's ministries phenomenon continued to spread, it wasn't long until the General Conference and North American Division recognized the need for women's ministries to be organized as a department of the church, with local churches appointing women's ministries leaders. These two entities now provide many resources for leadership training (56 classes covering three levels, complete with certification), Heart Call (reclaiming former members), friendship evangelism, ministry to girls and young women, and WM Emphasis Day materials (see www.nadwm.org and www.adventsource.org).
Women's ministries in the Northwest has come to represent much more than an annual weekend. The majority of our churches and each of our six conferences have an appointed women's ministries coordinator (see p. 11) who plans a variety of outreach-oriented events and leadership training. Our purpose, our desire, our mission remains—to help women realize there is A Ministry for Every Woman.
On the following pages you will be introduced to just a few of the many unsung heroines from around the Northwest who are actively using their spiritual gifts to prepare a people for Jesus' soon coming.
¹Ellen G. White, Testimonies to the Church, Vol. 6, 118.