AAW and TEAM Face Change


The Association of Adventist Women (AAW) organized in 1982. Since that time it has been active in promoting the role of women in all aspects of church life. During the past few years, however, the organization has begun to languish. Many of the original members have moved or for other reasons are no longer involved. The same several people have been managing the organization’s affairs for several years, and financial support has been dwindling.

By 1997 the people in the East Coast office were burned out. No one wanted to take on the office of president, and the treasurer had moved away. Alyce Pudewell finally agreed to take the presidency, and then Kit Watts moved to California.

Kit and Alyce worked together and decided to move everything to the West Coast. In January, 1998, AAW cleaned and closed its East Coast office and shipped the organization’s records to office space leased on the campus of La Sierra University. Several months elapsed before the first newsletter came out after the move, and even more time went by before there was word of the next conference.

But on the third weekend in October, 1998, AAW held its conference at Loma Linda University.

AAW has now narrowed its focus to two main productions: the bimonthly Adventist Woman produced by editor Kit Watts and assistant editor Christy Robinson, and the yearly AAW conference.


TEAM for Ordination

In 1988 AAW established a ten-person committee which Pat Habada chaired for the purpose of influencing the women’s ordination vote at the Indianapolis General Conference session. Shortly before the Indianapolis GC session the committee adopted the name Time for Equality in Adventist Ministry (TEAM). They anticipated two years of hard work, after which they planned to disband.

History didn’t turn out as they planned. Ten years later Adventist women’s ordination is still not a reality. TEAM has lost several members, including its only paid member, project manager Rebecca Brillhart, who left in 1997 to join the pastoral staff at the Sligo Church.

The core of eight people who remain with TEAM see their role evolving into one of educating the world field and supporting women as they pursue graduate degrees in theology. During the past eight years TEAM has raised nearly $100,000 of scholarship money, which they’ve awarded to women studying in seminaries and in university theology programs.

"We’re tired," acknowledges Habada; "we thought we’d be done in 1990, and here we are. But Utrecht taught us we have to move outside this country; we must educate the Spanish-speaking countries and Africa."


Welcome Table Goes South

In 1995, the year before Utrecht, TEAM sent 5,000 copies of The Welcome Table, edited by Habada and Brillhart, to church leaders around the world. This year they funded the book’s translation into Spanish and sent it to leaders in Inter and South America.

"We have received very positive responses from Inter-America," Habada says. "In fact, the only person that wasn’t pleased was the conference president in Puerto Rico. That’s ironic since Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory!"

South America, however, was a mixed bag. The mission president in Ecuador, for example, was kind in his response and asked for more copies of the book.

The conference president in Argentina, on the other hand, was "cordial but cool," Habada says. He told TEAM that he hadn’t read the book himself; he’d given it to his wife. He also said he’d be more eager to consider women’s ordination if North America hadn’t gone ahead and ordained women after the negative vote at Utrecht.

Now TEAM is helping to send Women in Ministry: Biblical and Historical Perspectives, edited by Nancy Vyhmeister and published by Andrews University Press, to Adventist college ministerial faculty. They have placed a pre-press order for 1,000 copies of the book (which they have already received) to help pay for its printing. They will send these books to church leaders in the Trans-European and Inter-American Divisions. TEAM is encouraging Vyhmeister to translate the book into Spanish.

"We came close to folding this summer after we finished our yearly scholarship program," Habada admits. "It’s getting harder to raise the scholarship money since La Sierra, Andrews, the North American Division, and the General Conference, now all have scholarships for women in ministry."

But Habada declares that they can’t disband. "Some people are saying, ‘Why bother?’ " she says. "We’re still needed. More women from outside the United States need scholarship money. To quit would be to let the women down."