Two women who have served the General Conference with incredible spirit and grace were honored as Women of the Year at a Women’s Ministries (WM) Dinner Monday evening.
Carol Barron (pictured left), the enthusiastic song leader at General Conference Sessions, and Charlotte Ishkanian (pictured right), the longtime Mission Guide editor who traveled the world bringing back remarkable mission stories were awarded Women of the Year Awards. While Barron is retiring after 20 years of service to the General Conference, she said she told the Lord she would go wherever He wanted her to go, and Cuba is in the offing. Ishkanian also recently retired. She worked at the GC for over 46 years. It was a trip to the Sudan where the major road was like a tractor path through a corn field that made her decide it was time to stay home. But she said that Sudan is still her favorite place in the world, and she has traveled to over 140 locations investigating 13th Sabbath projects. (Read a Spectrum interview with Ishkanian here.)
In this 20th anniversary year of Women’s Ministries, there was much to celebrate as the 45 women on the General Conference Executive Committee gathered for what has become a yearly event during Annual Council. WM Director Heather-Dawn Small reported that in the last twenty years her department has reclaimed 587,647 members, held 1,036,409 outreach meetings, sponsored 720,962 training events, and conducted 2487,511 other meetings. Proclaiming, “We love retreats,” she said that 413,711 retreats were held around the world, and that 2,276,416 women have attended. The department also sponsors an active scholarship program for women and has given out $1,103,450 in scholarships to 2,295 women in 130 countries.
And while the ordination of women ministers has never been part of Women’s Ministries agenda, she noted that through the various meetings and trainings there have been 1,902,955 baptisms.
Raquel Arias, the associate director of the department, shared photos and brief comments about some of the students who have received recent scholarships.
It was at the General Conference Session in Utrecht, Netherlands in 1995 that the Department of Women’s Ministries was created. Rose Otis was elected as the first director and Ardis Stenbakken, the associate director. The mission of the department is to uphold, encourage, and challenge Adventist women in their pilgrimage as disciples of Jesus Christ and members of His world church.
For several years, a devotional book produced by the department has raised funds for the scholarship program. Ardis Stenbakken co-authored the book for 2016 with Carolyn Sutton.
Stenbakken was at the meeting Monday, signing the devotional books that were shared with everyone present.
Other previous Women of the Year who were present such as Kari Paulsen, Linda Koh, and Stenbakken joined in blowing out the candles on the birthday cake.
Bonnie Dwyer is Editor of Spectrum Magazine.
Correction: The article has been edited to correct Carol's last name. It is Barron, not Banks.
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