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Report: Young Women and the Word – “Hearing Voices, Finding Your Own”

Crossposted from SDA Gender Justice.

More than 50 participants and over 125 guests met at Campus Hill Church in Loma Linda, California, on April 12, 2008, for the first annual Young Women and the Word Conference. The inaugural theme, “Hearing Voices: Finding Your Own,” was an invitation for speakers, panelists, and attendees to consider the question of young women and leadership across professional lines.

Young Women and the Word was inspired by the annual Women and the Word seminar started by Kit Watts. Rooted in empowering women and men through in-depth scriptural study to pursue issues of gender equality throughout all levels of God’s human family, the Young Women and the Word strives to engage the youth in this passion and dream. Speakers and participants showed commitment to empowering, connecting, exploring, and supporting a generation of young women and men across professional lines; with a hope that they become leaders whose voices and actions reflect faith in an inclusive and loving God, the Creator who affirms both Jew and Greek, slave and free, male and female because we are all one in Christ Jesus. While the Women’s Resource Center’s most immediate connections are with women in ministry it also seeks to help individuals make a real and intentional difference in the wider world, whether they work in healthcare, education, social justice, politics, parenting, or business.

Four universities in the North American Division sponsored women theology majors to attend the conference—Alyssa Foll (Southern Adventist University), Portia Howard (Oakwood College), Amanda Whithers (Walla Walla College), and Jacqueline Sanchez (Columbia Union College).

Alyssa Foll opened the conference with a scripture study, “In the Cave: Between Anointing and Appointing,” which was a touching account of the time David spent in the cave of Adullam found in 1 Samuel 22. Pastor Marlene Ferreras offered the morning worship sermon, “Breaking the Rules,” which was an insightful exploration into the relationship between Judah and Tamar found in Genesis 38. The morning worship service included special music by Patty Cabrera, songs of praise by students from Loma Linda Academy and La Sierra University, and a responsive reading by students from Loma Linda Academy and Orangewood Adventist Academy. Kendra Haloviak opened the afternoon sessions with a message titled “The Voices at the Well,” a study of Jesus and the Samaritan woman found in John 4.

La Sierra University students performed The Cost, an original drama written and directed by Kassy Skoretz. This powerful story critiques the notion that progress necessitates leaving some groups behind and asks whether progress is good, in itself. The script was heavily inspired by liberation theology, which is a commitment to the visibility and voice of marginalized people and God’s “priority for the poor” demonstrated in the life and teachings of Jesus.

Yami Bazan moderated a leadership panel that included Kathy Proffitt, Carla Lidner Baum, Portia Howard, and Julie Schaepper. Breakout sessions were led by Carla Gober (Spiritual Wholeness, Jessica Trevithick (Art and Media in Ministry), Dilys Brooks (The Woman in the Mirror), Prudence Pollard (Leadership), and the Students for Social Justice Club from La Sierra University. The conference closed with an Agape Supper, which included a special liturgy written and led by Patty Cabrera.

Rundown of the Schedule:

9:30 am to 10:40 am – Sabbath School: “In the Cave: Between Anointing and Appointing” by Alyssa Foll (Theology Major, Southern Adventist University)

10:45 am to 12:30 pm – Church Service: “Breaking the Rules” by Marlene Ferreras (Youth Pastor, Campus Hill Church)

2:30 pm – Scripture Study: “The Voices at the Well” by Kendra Haloviak (Professor of New Testament, La Sierra University)

3:15 pm – Special Feature: “The Cost,” an original drama written by Kassy Skoretz (Undergraduate Student, La Sierra University)

4:15 pm – Special Feature: Leadership panel moderated by Yami Bazan, with audience participation, and featuring the following individuals:

Julie Schaepper (Director of Community-Academic Partners in Service at Loma Linda University)

Portia Howard (President of Sister Connection at Oakwood College)

Carla Lidner Baum (Director of the Dental Oncology Service at Loma Linda University)

Kathy Proffitt (Former United States Ambassador to the Republic of Malta and Former President and Chief Executive Officer of Call-America)

5:00 pm – Conversation Cafes:

Carla Gober (Spiritual Wholeness)

Dilys Brooks (The Woman in the Mirror)

Prudence Pollard (Leadership)

Jessica Trevithick (Arts/Media in Ministry)

Social Justice Club at La Sierra University (Social Justice)

6:00 pm – Agape Supper with Patty Cabrera

“Thanks for organizing this historic and inspiring day. I was truly blessed, as were many others I spoke to who also attended. We’d love this to be a ‘regular’! May God continue to use each of you in mighty ways.” – Cheryl Harvey Webster

“Thank you so much for making me feel welcome at the Young Women and the Word Conference. It was so nice to hear from other ladies in the ministry. I appreciate all the planning and work that went into the conference.” – Amanda Whithers


Adventist Gender Justice is edited by Trisha Famisaran.

Trisha Famisaran is currently enrolled in a Dual Degree program at Claremont Graduate University for an M.A. in Philosophy and a Ph.D. in Philosophy of Religion and Theology. She did undergraduate work in History and Political Science at La Sierra University in Riverside, California.

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