The 24th Annual Conference of the Association of Adventist Women—Seattle, WA
By Trisha M. Famisaran
“Globalization and the Adventist Woman” was the theme of the 24th Annual Conference of the Association of Adventist Women, which convened on October 11, 2006 in Seattle, Washington. The pre-session, Women and the Word, was held on Thursday, October 12. This was my first time attending the AAW conference and I walked in excited to see different topics brought up and discussed.
Phyllis Trible, professor of biblical studies at Wake Forest University Divinity School, was the keynote speaker for the conference. On Friday, October 13, Dr. Trible gave a lecture titled, “A Mosaic for Miriam.” She addressed the role of Miriam in the Exodus narrative, pointing out a tension between the prophetic and the priestly writers who recorded the narrative, and the place of a woman’s story in the midst of those tensions. Dr. Trible argued for the possibility that Miriam once had a following of people who recognized her leadership, before her story was suppressed in favor of the Moses narrative. Dr. Trible also preached on Saturday for Divine Worship. Trible’s sermon was rightly titled, “A Story of Radical Action.” She spoke from the book of Ruth and pointed out the experience of Ruth and Naomi, two women trying to survive by the rules of patriarchal culture after the death of their husbands.
Several awards were given at the conference. Seven women received Women-of-the-Year awards.
Phetsile Kholekile Dlamini-Nkomo—Distinguished Service
Linda Zhu (Zhu Qing Yan)—Community Service
Merikay McLeod—Outstanding Achievement
Aune Helena Greggas—Church Life
Zhu Ai Zhen—Spiritual Leadership
Eugenia Lopez-Sustache Giordano—Professional Life
Paula Appley Leen—Lifetime Achievement
In addition, Pastor Arthur R. Torres received the Champion-of-Justice award. Pastor Torres has ministered for many years by the principle of “respect based on equality.”
In the span of four days, presentations and discussions concentrated on the effects of globalization and the need to address issues such as poverty, domestic violence, HIV/AIDS, and gender discrimination. Attendees had the opportunity to participate in roundtable discussions to address the state of Adventist women around the world, visions for the future of the church, and the steps necessary to advance toward those visions. Two important topics were brought up in a roundtable discussion—the lack of community service in many local churches and, especially, the continual resistance of women serving in leadership positions. Many attendees expressed disappointment that local churches are not taking enough initiative to contribute in the work against poverty and the HIV/AIDS epidemic, on both local and global levels. The general opinion was that hushed issues need to become open topics so that the church can fulfill a mission of “radical action” in the community.
Trisha M. Famisaran studies the history of Christianity/Theology/Women's Studies at Claremont Graduate School. She blogs at Adventist Gender Justice.