As we launch the Year of Revitalization, women’s ministries’ focus is on mentoring young women, ages 18-30. In November 2019, the Women’s Ministries Department took the findings of the 2013 report, 5 Reasons Millennials Stay Connected to Church, to heart. We made a commitment to encourage and support emerging women leaders who demonstrated excellent leadership skills, and who were deeply committed and active in their faith. According to the Barna Group’s research, this group represents one-fourth of the young people who formerly attend church.
In response to the findings of the Barna Group, we set forth a number of objectives, the first of which was the establishment of the Annual Emerging Women Leader Scholarship Award. Three $1,000 scholarship awards are given each year to female students, one from each of the universities in the Southern Union Conference. Our goal is to develop meaningful relationships with them during and after their college life.
We are delighted to announce three emerging women leaders for 2019:
Vantonise Coley, a student at Advent- Health University in Orlando, Florida, is a nursing major from the Florida Conference. She volunteers for an organization that serves the homeless population in downtown Orlando. The organization provides food, clothing, and health screenings, as well as housing and job placement. Coley also uses her leadership skills to mentor other nursing students. She enjoys the satisfaction of giving support and encouragement to her classmates in a mentally challenging discipline. When asked how the institution and Church could make a positive impact on females, she advocated for resources that provide mentoring opportunities to students in their chosen field of study. This is what the Barna Group calls “vocational discipleship.” The provision of grants/scholarships would also be tremendously helpful, according to Coley. She expressed gratitude for the Emerging Women Leaders Scholarship Award, as it will help her with educational costs.
Jessica Davidson, a student majoring in the field of health science at Oakwood University in Huntsville, Alabama, is a member of the South Atlantic Conference. Davidson utilizes her God- anointed leadership skills in a variety of venues, including her church, community, and school. As early as middle school, she has served in leadership positions. Those who recommended Davidson spoke highly of her ability to lead and inspire others, and viewed her as an excellent role model. She has served as a presenter and exercise instructor for the Healthy Choices initiative at Oakwood University. Concerning her philosophy about leadership, Davidson believes that empathy, teamwork, and integrity are critically important. She also believes that the contributions of women in various ministries need to be recognized and extended into the mission field.
Joi McClellan has led out in various ministries while attending Southern Adventist University. She believes that ministering to others has had a profound impact on her personal and spiritual growth. As a member of the Georgia-Cumberland Conference, she is involved in the campus organization GYCSE, a youth initated movement united in a commoon commmitment to serious Bible study, intense prayer, uncompromising lifestyle, and boldness in sharing Christ with others. She serves as programming coordinator. This campus group hosts bi-annual conferences focusing on relevant topics that encourage students in their spiritual walk with Jesus. When asked what Bible story she would use to describe the Emerging Women Leaders initiative to support and encourage women, she reflected on Timothy: “Though not a woman,” she admits, “Timothy’s entire life story was an example of how the church community poured into the lives of others.” She likens the Emerging Women Leaders Scholarship to Timothy being mentored by Paul. It reflects the spiritual community to which she belongs seeing value in her and encouraging and supporting her to pursue the calling God has for her life. McClellan would love to see more mentoring and discipling from the local churches.
We, the Southern Union Women’s Ministries Department, believe that Titus 2:3-5 is one of our mandates. We are admonished as older women to teach the younger women to live godly lives. We live in challenging, yet exciting times. God has already given us a glimpse of what a dynamic mentoring process looks like through the biblical stories of Ruth and Naomi, Mary and Elizabeth, and yes, Paul and Timothy.
The Women’s Ministries Department is committed to effectively ministering to the needs of our young women, and inviting them to work along with us to change the world for Christ. We recognize that to accomplish this, we must change. We can no longer talk or hope in terms of passing the baton of leadership from one generation to another. We must be intentional and illustrate our commitment to do so with tangible actions. To revitalize our ministry in ways that are relevant, vibrant, and attractive to the young, we need their innovative ideas, energy, and perspectives. To have a ministry that represents women of all ages, races/ethnicities, and cultures with the diversity of skills and talents in our Union, we need to stand and work with each other, side by side. Women’s ministries is excited about the exponential possibilities of mentoring women in the 21st century. It is our prayer that it will have revitalization power, and will bridge the gap between generations. College women who desire to apply for the Emerging Women Leaders Scholarship Award, can find the information and application by visiting our website. Applications must be submitted by September 15, to the women’s ministries director of the student’s local conference where their church membership is held.
In preparing to meet the challenges faced by the 21st century women, we included formal training on mentoring at our Union departmental meeting in November 2019. Sonia Paul, who has served as a lifelong mentor, is the former women’s ministries director for the South Central Conference, and former coordinator of the mentoring program for women at Oakwood University, was the presenter. In her dynamic presentation, she presented a 10-Step Process in developing a church mentoring program. She recommended that the conference directors develop an objective statement for which the outcomes could be measured (e.g., developing self- esteem, self-confidence, and communication empowerment). A Mentor Me Survey template was also provided for women’s ministries leaders as they lead out in their congregations. Each conference director received the book, Together: A Mentoring Guide for Mentors and Mentees, by Nancy Lindgren. The book contains 12 sessions that lead mentors and mentees through conversation starters, encouragement starters, and prayer starters.In her book, Lindgren succinctly states our vision in the following passage:
“We need to come together — to be intentional, to be available, to give our genuine presence to one another.“We need to be together — united in purpose and growing into the fullness of who God has made us to be, each with our own unique story, life experiences, personality, and giftings.“We need to move together — in the direction of God’s best plan for us.”It is our prayer that each Women’s Ministries Department in our local churches will join us in the work of revitalization by supporting the next generation of emerging women leaders.
The Union director welcomes the opportunity to hold women’s forums to discuss ideas and action plans. Churches interested in ministering women for the 21st century can find resources on our website at www.southernunion.com/womens-ministries. Join us in this exciting adventure of revitalization.
is the women’s ministries director at the Southern Union Conference.
Southern Union | March 2020