Euro-Asia Division Advisory meetings were held from June 3-5, 2008, in Moscow, Russia. Following the advisory, a shepherdess congress was held at Zaoksky Adventist University, located about 75 miles (120 km) south of Moscow, where Sharon Cress was one of presenters. Shepherdesses from the union area attended the three-day congress. Presentations relating specifically to the attendees and the unique challenges and rewards they face as pastoral wives.
North American Division
Northeastern Conference Wives Enjoy Retreat: Elfreda Blue, Northeastern Conference Shepherdess Club president, shared that in November, 47 ministers’ wives from the Northeastern Conference gathered at the Sagamore Resort on Bolton’s Landing in Lake George, New York, for a very special weekend retreat. The retreat, supported by the conference administration and ministerial department, was the first in recent memory.
The women came from as far away as Rochester, New York, and Boston, Massachusetts. Most traveled in cars, but 20 of them from the New York City area utilized the specially arranged Hummer stretch limousine service. Upon arrival, all were warmly welcomed by the organizing committee as well as members of the Sagamore staff.
The weekend activities began at the hotel spa, where ladies were treated to massages, facials, body scrubs, and chromotherapy baths. The Sabbath hours were filled with songs of praise, worship, and fellowship. Special music for the occasion was presented by Miranda Manie and Daschelle Cuke, two pastors’ daughters. Prayer time enabled the women to pray for their families, their church ministry, and themselves. One heartwarming experience occurred during one of the prayer sessions when a young female hotel guest requested prayer for her sister’s children.
The main presenter for the retreat was Linda Penick from the Southeastern California Conference. She addressed areas pertinent to ministers’ wives. Other inspiring presentations were made by Lois King, Atlantic Union Conference Shepherdess coordinator and adjunct professor at Atlantic Union College, and Roseclaire Bulgin, first lady of the Roxbury church in Roxbury, Massachusetts.
Included in the full program was time for leisurely walks around placid and beautiful Lake George, and a Sunday morning ride in the Sagamore horse-drawn carriage.
Everyone enjoyed the experience and left Sagamore with wonderful memories, closer bonds and looking forward to the next retreat.
Oklahoma Conference Wives Enjoy Special Retreat: Susan Jones presented the following report.
The Oklahoma pastors’ wives who checked in for the Shepherdess Retreat at Wewoka Woods Adventist Center were greeted with hugs, roses, “Okie” pins, and welcome cards encouraging them to refresh and relax! In the rooms where the ladies were staying, they found “rainbow seeds” with planting instructions on each pillow, along with gifts of homemade oatmeal soap, rose bath salts, and a chocolate “rose” complete with stem.
The theme for the weekend was “Relationships of Women,” featured Marti Schneider, the North American Division Shepherdess Coordinator. Her talk Friday evening was entitled “A Moving Story,” and was followed by small groups where each of the ladies made a map of each place she had ministered. One of our ladies had made over 20 moves in her ministry career! There was also the sharing of memorable moves; the stories ranged from harrowing to hilarious. Some told of answered prayer and of God’s leading.
Susan Jones presented a nature talk on spiritual applications from sea shells, including the murex shell from which purple dye came in Old Testament times. She explained that purple cloth had such high value because of the quantity of murex shells needed to produce the dye.
Music for the weekend was led by Teresa Ritter, Janelle Norman, Chrystal Flerchinger, and Sylvia Johnson, with Shirlene McClendon at the piano. As we sang, our hearts were lifted heavenward with praise to our Heavenly Father.
Sabbath began with a bountiful breakfast prepared by Lisa East. Following our worship in musical praise, Pam Fraser led out in the Sabbath School lesson on “Mystery of the Deity of Christ.” Many deep and meaningful insights turned the lesson into a spiritual feast.
Marti’s morning talk, “Elizabeth, Mary, and Me,” was on how God relates to women, then and now. She shared insights gleaned from her own personal devotional Bible study about the birth of Jesus and his young mother, Mary. Marti shared her gift of music with a song that she composed called “Power of the Highest,” a beautiful song from Mary’s story, found in Luke 1:26-56.
In the afternoon Marti spoke on “Walking with Jesus Today,” where she presented her approach to personal devotions. Everyone found this to be a stimulating approach to devotional Bible study as Marti not only shared the “details” of her method, but also the “tools” for everyone to try while using a passage from the book of Mark. There was an impressive array of personal insights gleaned from a few moments of prayerful attention to a few Bible verses.
Later in the afternoon Teresa Shelton, Oklahoma Shepherdess President and coordinator for the retreat, led a discussion about ways to share Jesus.
In the evening, Teresa led out in a time of focus on evangelism, showing a segment of a “Share Him” evangelistic PowerPoint program, and giving attendees the opportunity to experience a portion of the series.
Small group discussions were interspersed throughout the days, with the small groups being creatively divided. One time each woman was given a bookmark and divided by the bookmark themes. Another time everyone was given a balloon to pop and each balloon had a piece of chocolate candy in it. Groups were divided by whether a person had dark chocolate, milk chocolate, chocolate with peanuts, or chocolate with crispy rice. Groups were also divided by color and fragrance of votive candles; another time the divisions were determined by the color of ribbon tied to a rose left at their place at the table. These groups added some warmth, humor, and variety to the retreat.
Lisa East shared her gift of “special touches” by providing lovely fresh floral arrangements for each table, adding to the overall sense of being cared for. In addition, she thoughtfully prepared tasteful, healthy, and beautiful meals that were not only delicious but very attractive.
Saturday night everyone relaxed by the fireplace as Teresa took on the role of auctioneer. The women brought wrapped gift items from home to be auctioned in a fundraiser for the Oklahoma Shepherdess organization, and they raised over $300.
Sunday morning Marti Schneider gave her final talk on “Reaching Your Neighborhood for Jesus,” sharing personal stories of how she and her husband, Don, have reached out to their neighbors.
After a final small-group session, the retreat ended with everyone holding hands for a group prayer regarding specific needs that had been discovered during the weekend. Then there were lots more hugs and a determination to pray for each other more and to try to get together more often!
South American Division
Ecuador: The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Manta, Ecuador, recently led out in a “No Smoking Day” in their fishing port city. Activities included a special oratory contest held in the Municipal Hall featuring participating students from 12 different high schools, followed by a special parade the following day. “The community here was impressed, and today in the parade we have of the highest authority of the municipal Government with us,” writes Annabella Franco de Abril, a pastor’s wife.
South Pacific Division
Future Shepherdesses Receive Training: Every Wednesday a group of women gather together at Fulton College in Fiji to participate in the Pastoral Partners Certification Program (PPCP) program and enjoy fellowship together. The women come from several South Pacific islands including Kiribati, Solomons, Vanatu, Kiribati, and Fiji.
Momoi Sausau, Shepherdess coordinator for Fulton College leads out in the popular classes. Topics in the series include: New Life for the Pastor’s Wife; Hospitality; Leadership; Doctrines; Life & Teachings of Jesus; Spiritual Gifts; Personality Plus; Pastoral Visitation; and Health for Life.
Started in 2007, the program was so successful that some members of the first session are returning to help with the new session. In the first group, a translator was needed for a French-speaking participant. Over the course of the year, that participant has now become so proficient in English that she has returned to translate for a new French-speaking Shepherdess.
Participants from both sessions continue to enjoy learning and fellowship together and are so appreciative of these special classes to help prepare them in their new role as a Shepherdess.
PNG Partners in Ministry Literacy Training: In Papua New Guinea, 32 ministers’ wives received special training that enabled them to make a powerful impact in their communities through literacy training.
The Training the Trainers for Literacy program was made possible through funding from Shepherdess International at the General Conference. Women from most of the local missions throughout PNG were able to attend, thanks to the grant from Shepherdess International.
Mrs. Beatrice Kemo, Papua New Guinea Union Mission Literacy Coordinator, facilitated the training. Being the former Women’s Ministries director in PNGUM, Beatrice has a lot of experience in literacy. Her skills and knowledge were passed on to those who attended.
During the training program, participants were taught basic ideas on the importance of being a teacher, and teaching those who cannot read and write, as well as other things.
The ladies were very happy that this training gave them many ideas about the work of literacy and methods of teaching those who are unable to read and write.
The benefits of the literacy program for women include lower birthrates; the ability to provide a Christian education for their children; decrease maternal and infant mortality; later marriages; overall improvement in family health; a greater sense of personal self-worth; the ability to read Scripture and to assume responsibility for personal spiritual choices; an expanded influence in teaching children spiritual values; a greater possibility of becoming financially stable; and an ability to become involved in the Church’s mission, along with many other benefits.
New Zealand: In April 2008 the pastors wives in New Zealand met for a retreat. The featured speaker was Mary Maxson from California. The ladies enjoyed the time of fellowship and spiritual refreshment.
Southern Asia Division
Women enjoy union-wide congress in South East India: The South East India Union Shepherdess and Women’s Congress was conducted in the organization’s oldest church at Prakasapuram from April 24-26, 2008, with the theme, “Let us rise up and build” (Neh. 2:18).
More than 200 women from across South East India attended the event featuring Mrs. Hepzibah Kore, Director of the Women’s and Shepherdess Ministries, as the main speaker.
Seminars addressing topics pertinent to ministry in the local church, health, and women’s issues were offered. The Women’s Ministries Directors from the 10 local conferences in the South East India Union served as facilitators for this congress.
One of the highlights of the program was when Mrs. Ruth, age 70, recited 270 verses and entire chapters from the Bible from memory. Mrs. Ruth, from the Ramnad section of India, explained that she reads God’s Word whenever she can, reciting verses “while cooking, tilling the soil, working in the field, walking on the road, lying in.” Mrs. Ruth, who has only had two years of formal education, dreams of one day being able to recite the entire New Testament from memory.
Gift of goats enriching many lives: Shepherdess International’s Goat Project is making a difference in the lives of numerous families across the Southern Asia Division. Reports and letters full of gratefulness show how much these gifts of goats are appreciated.
“We are filled with joy to record our appreciation and gratitude for granting funds to purchase 14 young goats for 14 economically challenged women, of whom half are widows,” writes Eswaramma Halemane, Women’s Ministries director for the South Karnataka Section in South-Central India. “These goats will grow up and have kids, which, when sold, will take care of some financial needs of our poor sisters... The 14 women and their families are very happy to thank you. We shall strive to lead these and many more women to the knowledge of salvation in Jesus Christ.”
Fourteen goats were also given to women needing assistance in the Raichur-Bellary Region of South Central India.
“Thank you very much for supporting our region,” writes H.B. Stephens, director of the Raichur-Bellary Region. “The women are happy and wish to thank the donors.”
“It is my happy privilege to extend my sincere thanks and gratitude for helping those in our area who are finding it very difficult to make ends meet,” writes Mrs. Kamalam Rajamony, director of Women’s Ministries in the North Keral Section of Southwest India. “Out of the beneficiaries, one is a widow; another is lame and her husband is blind. Another person has no house of her own and has three children to care for. The others are economically very poor. We appreciate your kind-hearted service for helping the poor. May God continue to bless and guide you as you serve Him through this ministry.”
Southern Asia-Pacific Division
Bangladesh Shepherdesses conduct evangelism programs: Church members in Bangladesh enthusiastically supported an evangelistic program conducted by the local Shepherdess organization at the Vanaikushlia Adventist Church in Bangladesh mid-February.
Mrs. Angela Panday, along with Pastor Edward P. Chambugong, ministerial secretary for the Bangladesh Union Mission, led out in the program.
“Reflect Christ Through Service” was the theme of the seminar, with almost 100 people from the surrounding community attending. Nine people were baptized.
In April, Shepherdesses of the West Bangladesh Mission conducted a series of meetings at Mathurapur. Out of the 85 attendees, 15 accepted Jesus Christ and were baptized. Mrs. Minoty Marandi and Mrs. Cecelia Kisku led out in these meetings.
Shepherdesses from East Bangladesh Field and led by Mrs. Mariam Bonowaree conducted evangelistic meetings at Khagrachori from May 8-11 and won 35 people to Christ. During the following week, another series was presented by Mrs. Surovi Hawee, Mrs. Porose Moni Kerkata, and Mrs. Mariam Bonowaree at the Adventist Hill Tracts School and Seminary, resulting in 36 baptisms.
Shepherdesses and spouses share joy in Bangladesh: Pastors and their wives in the Bangladesh Union Mission gathered at Cox’s Bazaar Sea Beach for a rewarding three-day Ministers’ Council and Bible Conference held March 17-19.
Presenters at the conference included Helen Gulfan, director for Women’s Ministries and Shepherdess International in the Southern Asia-Pacific Division (SSD); Houtman Sinaga, SSD Ministerial Secretary; and Joshua Mok, executive secretary of the Southeast Asia Union Mission.
Mrs. Gulfan presented four topics: (1) “Issues for Partners in Ministry,” (2) “Shepherdess—Spirit-Filled and Controlled Woman,” (3) “Shepherdess: A Heart that Encourages,” and (4)“Shepherdess: Reaching the Hearts of Your PKs (Preachers’ Kids).”
The 80 conference participants expressed appreciation for the excellent meetings, with many stating that while both ministers and spouses “share the same goals, objectives, ordeals, concerns, and challenges in the advancement of God’s cause, we now know better how to deal with the details.”
Similar meetings were held in Myanmar and in Sri Lanka last March. “We really enjoyed our ministries with them all,” said Mrs. Gulfan, “both pastors and wives. Thank you for your prayer support.”
West-Central Africa Division
Ghana Shepherdess celebrates 21 years: More than 200 pastors’ wives in the Ghana Union Conference attended a special 21st Anniversary National Shepherdess Retreat held April 9-13,2008, at the Swedru SDA Secondary School located north of the capital city of Accra.
During the five-day bi-annual Shepherdess retreat, presentations were given on a variety of topics including health, marriage, fasting, prayer, and wealth creation. Special support and prayers were given for new as well as retiring pastor’s wives and widows.
Each of the attendees received gift copies of The Story of Redemption and Steps to Christ.
“I would like to encourage them to read the Bible and also to read the books of Shepherdess E.G. White, a dedicated pastor’s wife,” said Angele Nlo Nlo, Shepherdess Coordinator for the West Central Africa Division.
Taking the theme of the retreat “Transforming the Life of the Shepherdess by the Signs of Hope” to heart, the pastor’s wives wanted to give hope to the children living in a nearby orphanage. Together, the Shepherdess group donated over US$1,500 worth of items such as food, soap, and detergents, as well as a cash gift of US$200 to the Bawjiase orphanage. The story was covered along with a color picture in the April 29 issue of The Ghanaian Times, Ghana’s national newspaper.
While visiting the orphanage, the Shepherdess leaders invited the “Mother” of the facility, Mrs. Amy BoafoYeboah to attend the Divine Worship service held during the retreat. On Sabbath, not only did Mrs. Boafo-Yeboah attend, but most of the children were with her. During the service, a special prayer was said for these dear ones.