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by Josephine Benton

It was no human voice that gave me the most
powerful call I have ever had—the call into
ministry. It was the still, small voice of God in the
events of my life and the meditations of my heart.

— Penny Shell


 Active and Retired Women Ministers:

A Brief Sampler

In the interest of making the account current, this chapter briefly mentions a number of Seventh-day Adventist women ministers who in 1990 are part of our church community, active or retired. It is an incomplete coverage. The writer will be pleased to receive information that readers care to send about other women ministers, as well as greater detail concerning those mentioned in this book.1

Much of the material in this chapter was written or spoken to the writer by the individuals discussed. Other sources are credited in the usual manner.

Marilyn J. Banford

Marilyn Banford is an associate pastor in the British Columbia Conference; she has pastored the Westminster Church since 1987.

Her ministry began when Marilyn took a year's leave of absence from her work as a high school teacher to serve with an evangelistic team. She never returned to teaching. After working with the evangelistic team for four years, she became a task force worker for a local church. Next the conference employed her as a Bible worker. Having gained this wide experience, she moved into the responsibility of an associate pastor.

Miss Banford had not felt the lack of total ministerial privileges until, having been the sole minister of her congregation for nine months, she planned a special service for dedication of new church officers. At that time she felt frustrated because, although she could occupy the pulpit to preach each Sabbath, she could not offer prayer for ordination of new elders to serve her congregation. She is of good courage, however, and considers her call into the ministry "all providence."

Janet Beason

After their marriage in 1965, Janet and her husband, Elder C. L. Beason, worked together in pastoral and evangelistic work. When Elder Beason was to be away, Mrs. Beason would preach in the church and conduct the evangelistic services as needed. On one occasion when Elder Beason became ill during an evangelistic series, Mrs. Beason not only preached but also made a call to which several people responded; they were later baptized.

Mrs. Beason lectured on astronomy and the Bible, archaeology and the Bible lands, and health and vegetarian cookery as the couple evangelized in the Pennsylvania Conference. The Beasons frequently preached sermons in dialogue form on Biblical topics. They retired to Arkansas and still conducted efforts occasionally.

Alice Breakie

Always a caring person, Alice Breakie the nurse valued personal contact with her patients. She helped them deal with spiritual and emotional needs as well as physical.

In Spokane she took five quarters of Clinical Pastoral Education at the Deaconess Medical Center; she also earned an M.A. in applied behavioral science. Alice worked for one year as a chaplain and for a summer as clergy counselor at Starting Point, an alcohol and drug rehabilitation center in Orangevale, California. Then, with endorsement from the Adventist chaplaincy ministry, she became a counselor at Starting Point.

Beverly Spurgeon Bretsch

Interacting with members of her husband's congregations for several years, Beverly Bretsch saw unmet needs that motivated her to seek a Master of Arts degree in counseling psychology. Completing the program in 1985, she was called to be pastor of nurture at the College View Seventh-day Adventist Church in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Leslie Helfer Bumgardner

Leslie Helfer converted to Adventism while in high school. Believing herself called to the ministry, she studied at Walla Walla College in Washington and graduated with a B.A. degree in religion. When it dawned on her that she might not find a ministerial position, she added a second major in home economics.

Leslie worked as a legislative aide and office manager for U.S. Congressman Thomas Foley. She also directed the food service at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital in Maryland.

Leslie Helfer Bumgardner and her husband moved to Worthington, Ohio, where a conversation with the pastor rekindled Leslie's longing to enter the ministry. The only opening available, however, was as a part-time secretary in the church office. She accepted the position.

Leslie discussed her dream again with the next senior pastor and was hired as a full-time Bible worker. A year later, under a third senior pastor, Leslie's calling became official as she took the duties of an associate pastor at the Worthington, Ohio, Seventh-day Adventist Church in 1985.

Because of the experiences that she had realized previously, when she entered the pastoral ministry she had already developed considerable ability in human relations. She feels grateful to be in a congregation and conference that give her affirmation. She is currently baptizing the candidates whom she prepares for church membership. Leslie repeatedly sees evidence that God wants her in the ministry and has fitted her for that calling.2

Esther Lucille Neil Burley

After 18 years of college teaching, Esther Burley accepted a call to the Loma Linda University Church to serve on the pastoral staff and to create a new ministry. She sees her particular calling as service in the name of Jesus to children and young families. Since 1986 she has directed the Loma Linda Children's Center, which has a capacity for 152 children, a staff of 30, and a congregation of 500.

Esther occasionally feels the frustration of innovation, since her contribution is regarded by some as neither "real ministry" nor "real education." Yet she and her colleagues see that her ministry is both real and urgently needed.

Mrs. Burley's M.A. degree is in human development.

She officiates at baby dedication services, and she lives with families through their crises as all dedicated pastors do.

Nancy Canwell

To fill the vacancy created when Diane Forsyth was called to another church, the Walla Walla College Church invited Nancy Canwell to its staff. Nancy and her husband are both pastors; he works part time for the church and she, full time.

Nellie E. Lane Carter

Formerly the director of education in a Methodist church, Nellie Carter converted to Adventism in 1969. Her first desire was to share the good news that she had found. To this end she enrolled in the Bible instructor's course of the Home Study Institute. It took her only a year under the Spirit's guidance to bring her husband, daughter, and Sunday school teacher to take their stand with her in the Adventist faith.

Mrs. Carter entered part-time and then full-time Bible work in Salisbury and Frederick, Maryland. After her husband's retirement, Mrs. Carter accepted a call to Cicero, Indiana, where she not only continued giving Bible instruction in homes but also began preaching.

After the Carters had been in Indiana five years, the Chesapeake Conference administration called Mrs. Carter to become an associate pastor in the Salisbury district, comprising parts of Maryland and Virginia, with special responsiblity for a small group of believers in Accomac, Virginia. She stayed for five years, and the Cornerstone Seventh-day Adventist Church that stands there now bears witness to her labors.

Since her "retirement" in 1985, Mrs. Carter has served as associate pastor of the Dover First Seventh-day Adventist Church in Delaware. An evangelist who has held revivals and series, Nellie Carter is one of many Adventist women ministers whose good works are largely unknown outside their immediate area of service.

Mary Louise Durning Casler

Mary Louise Durning Casler earned a ministerial degree in college, graduating in 1942. She engaged in family counseling for 18 years, during which time she upgraded her education with an M.S. degree in family. In 1979 Mrs. Casler joined the staff of Ukiah Valley Medical Center in California as a chaplain.

She finds that in conducting funerals, unfortunate as they seem, she has an excellent oportunity to share the gospel. On those occasions she can express God's love to people that might not be willing to listen at any other time. She says, "I like working with people through crises."

Sharon G. Chamberlain

Sharon started her professional life as a health educator with New England Memorial Hospital. Then she joined the pastoral staff of Hinsdale Church in Illinois. While there, she studied one year at Bethany Seminary. She next ministered as an associate pastor at the Beltsville, Maryland, Seventh-day Adventist Church.

To pursue her clinical pastoral education, in 1987 Sharon moved to a part-time chaplaincy at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital. Miss Chamberlain is curently chaplain at Takoma Adventist Hospital in Tennessee.

Having become convinced at 10 years of age that God was calling her into ministry, Sharon has seen the specific career steps develop as she has followed her heavenly Father's leading.

Josephine (Joby) Chang

When the Lord called Joby Chang into the ministry of chaplaincy, she felt hesitant the way Moses did when called to lead his people out of bondage. Like Moses, she laid her fears before the Lord. He gave her many indications that she was to accept the call and that He would fit her for the work.

Joby's current responsibility is assistant chaplain at Castle Medical Center in Haleiwa, Hawaii, where she began her ministry early in 1984. Her specific preparation includes clinical pastoral education training at the State Mental Hospital in Hawaii.

Although she does not baptize candidates herself, Joby finds unspeakable joy at the baptism of converts whom she has introduced to our Lord Jesus Christ. From time to time Joby is called upon to conduct the regular Sunday services at the State Hospital for all departments; on these occasions she administers the ordinance of the Lord's supper.

As Miss Chang fulfills her opportunity to minister, she senses that she is being directed and taught by the Lord.

Rose Mary Cornaz

As a nurse in Switzerland, Rose Mary conscientiously labored with one of her patients about his religion because she feared for his soul's salvation. She, not being an Adventist, thought that this Seventh-day Adventist missionary did not keep the Sabbath properly and, consequently, was not living in a state of grace. Three years later, after much discussion, Bible study, and prayer, Rose Marie became a Seventh-day Adventist and married the missionary. He was battling tuberculosis, and Rose Mary realized that she might become a widow soon. However, at that moment Charles needed Rose Mary's help in his ministry.

The minister's wife first learned to give Bible studies. Later during World War II Charles urged Rose Mary to rent a hall and hold evangelistic meetings. It was an opportune time to reach people's hearts in Switzerland, and Charles wanted to teach Rose Mary all that he knew about evangelism. If he should die, she could carry on the work alone.

Fortunately, the ailing husband experienced God's grace and found his health improved. Then Charles and Rose Mary held meetings together. Sometimes Rose Mary drew larger crowds than Charles. It didn't matter: They were doing the Lord's work to the best of their abilities.

After years of successful team ministry, Charles died. Rose Mary, a widow in her seventies, is retired but not idle. She actively seeks the salvation of the residents in a nursing home.3

Jan Daffern

Experiencing a call to the ministry, Jan Daffern prepared formally for that career at Andrews University. Her husband, Dr. Gene Daffern, has been most supportive of Jan's call. When she accepted the invitation to become an associate pastor at Sligo Church in 1979, Dr. Daffern arranged his residency plans accordingly.

At Sligo Church and in the Potomac Conference, Jan Daffern's gifts for ministry—preaching, writing, counseling, and administering—were greatly appreciated locally. Jan was one of the pastors who was allowed to baptize candidates in the mid-1980s.

The push from the higher levels of church administration against this action of the local conference to allow women pastors to baptize, as well as personal criticism and misunderstanding, caused Jan to reconsider her future. She is presently preparing for counseling work as a way in which her gifts can be used while the Adventist church continues to discuss how to use the gifts of women ministers.

Wanda Elaine Grimes Davis

The first black Adventist woman to complete a clinical pastoral education program, Mrs. Davis holds the responsibility of staff chaplain at the 700-bed Regional Medical Center in Memphis, Tennessee.

Mrs. Davis earned a B.A. degree in social work and then an M.A. in religion from Andrews University. She preaches and has brought more than 30 people into the church as a result of her ministry that bridges from bedside to pulpit. She says, "I will not argue with people about my calling; I invite them to examine the fruits of my calling."

Mrs. Davis has baptized and married people only in the hospital, which is not church operated. Her influence is widespread. She has worked with a minister of another denomination to the point that this pastor recently left her African Methodist Episcopal church, where she was in line to become a bishop, and has started a Sabbath-keeping, health-conscious church. "She will not become an Adventist," however, Mrs. Davis notes, "because of our ordination policies; she has been ordained over a decade." Nevertheless, Mrs. Davis and the other minister preach in each other's pulpits, and the strong relationship continues.4

Evelyn Clair Delafield

Mrs. Delafield was a pioneer woman chaplain in the Seventh-day Adventist denomination. Her dedicated service on the chaplains' staff at Washington Adventist Hospital in Takoma Park, Maryland, showed how beautifully a woman's gifts can be suited to that ministry. The fact that she was left in the office when the male chaplains were all off to a convention did not make her bitter because she loved her work, and inequities could not prevent her from doing it with fervor.

Mrs. Delafield is a strong supporter for women in the ministry. She said,

When I recognize someone's ministry as deeply rooted in the love of Christ, I am delighted. If that Christ-centered minister is a woman, my joy is the ultimate, simply because of the uphill road women have had to travel to enter fully the service of the King.5

Mrs. Delafield's husband, Elder D. A. Delafield, has encouraged his wife in her chaplaincy, as she has supported him in his various ministries. Evelyn's commitment has meant being on call at odd hours the same as a medical doctor, only her concentration has been to treat the spiritual ills of the patients.

In The Love Prescription,6 Mrs. Delafield describes her various tasks: venturing out very early in the morning to pray with a patient before surgery; answering an elderly patient's question, "What must I do to be saved?"; visiting a home to answer a phone inquiry into the religious philosophy of the Adventist church; being called from her sleep to meet the need of a young female physician who was much less comfortable being the recipient of surgery than the perpetrator. Mrs. Delafield administered her prescription of love wherever and whenever the need came, and she saw baptisms resulting from her faithful work.

Although formally retired now, Mrs. Delafield is far from idle. This chaplain demonstrates not only the ability to move from room to room making contact with people whom she has never seen before, but also a thorough mastery of Biblical principles, which she presents in ongoing Bible studies when the Holy Spirit provides an opportunity. She opens her home generously to troubled people, gives counsel unstintingly, and prays earnestly for wisdom to meet each individual's needs. Evelyn Delafield serves as a role model for women entering the chaplaincy.

Carole Lesley Grave Ferch

Carole Ferch trained as a Bible worker at Avondale College in Australia and then continued at Andrews University for her Master of Arts in religion. She functioned as a Bible instructor and director of the College Student Counselling Centre at Avondale. Mrs. Ferch became chaplain at Sydney Adventist Hospital in 1985; there she conducts a well-rounded ministry, including preparing people for baptism.

Diane Forsyth

As associate pastor at Walla Walla College Church in College Place, Washington, Mrs. Forsyth fulfilled the functions of pastoring in an admirable manner. Now her gripping sermons are heard from the pulpit of one of the largest churches in the denomination, the University Church in Loma Linda, California. In one memorable message she encouraged women and men to reach out past the fears, rejection, and exhaustion of life to touch the hem of Jesus' garment and be made whole.7

Marsha Tuttle Frost

Marsha Tuttle made studying God's Word a highlight of her high school years. While attending college, she did not anticipate being hired as a pastor later; she was content to work during the day and hold night meetings to spread the gospel.

However, her high school Latin teacher had challenged her to probe the meaning of the Bible in the Greek language; therefore Marsha went to college determined to study Greek to be able to answer those questions. She graduated from Southern Missionary College in Tennessee with a B.A. in theology and minors in applied theology and Biblical languages. Later she and her husband, Jim Frost, both earned Master of Divinity degrees. Marsha's strong motivation and exceptional abilities propelled her to the top of her class.

For about nine years Marsha has served a church in northern Virginia as pastor while Jim pastors another church nearby. When asked how it was working out for her and her husband to pastor nearby churches in the Potomac Conference, she said that it has advantages. For instance, when they have each presented a stimulating series of prayer meetings, they can trade locations for a few weeks; that way the members of the spouse's congregation can have the advantage of that careful preparation.

Some people raised questions concerning how parenting and pastoring might mix; Marsha struggled with these questions herself. Whether or not to have a child became a matter of much prayer. Now that young Brittany is part of Marsha and Jim's household, Marsha finds that her parishioners are understanding and helpful. She can relate to members in additional ways because of being a mother. She moved her office to her home in order to spend precious moments with her little girl when possible. Both pastor-parents take pains to schedule time as a family. Their work continues to be blessed of God and productive.

Marsha is allowed to baptize candidates in her Fairfax, Virginia, Church. Nevertheless, there are still challenges from various sources for the woman pastor. She once wrote, "It is not easy being a minister. In fact sometimes I wonder why I keep on. But then where would I be if Jesus had quit at His work for me? So I keep on."8

Linda Gage

Linda Gage and her husband shared a richly rewarding pastoral ministry for 20 years, during which time he was labeled the pastor and she, the pastor's wife. It was when Richard, the husband, moved into the health ministry that Linda returned to school for an M.A. in human development, planning to be a children's center director. A minister at that time recognized her gift of pastoring and invited her to join his staff. She became an associate pastor of the Glendale City Church in California.

When she was assured by the senior pastor that she gave evidence of the gift of pastoring, Linda thought, "I've had the gift of pastoring all my life, and never named it." She told of a woman who was able to confide in her who had not been able to counsel with any of the male pastors and who said that she would not have talked to Mrs. Gage if she had been a Bible worker. The woman experienced healing of the spirit and is now a minister in another country.

Mrs. Gage completed clinical pastoral education training at Loma Linda University and transferred into hospital chaplaincy in 1987. Now she is working as co-facilitator of a children's grief group at Children's Hospital in Seattle; she sometimes assists the hospital chaplain doing on-call work.

As a layperson working in a small church, she still sees herself called under the concept of the priesthood of all believers.

While she realizes that ministry is not an easy path for women or for men, Mrs. Gage nevertheless believes that to refuse to walk in that path would mean missing "the deep, deep joy that ministry brings." She is glad that when God called she followed, even if tremblingly, where He led.09

Laura Gonzales

After she was converted and joined the Seventh-day Advent-ist Church in 1956, Laura Gonzales experienced a call to evangelism. For seven years as a layperson she held cottage meetings and then public efforts in her home country of Trinidad. God blessed her commitment with 560 converts baptized.

In a meeting with a group of church leaders, Mrs. Gonzales asked, "If you wanted an important message to be spread very fast, would you give it to a man or a woman?" The opposition to a woman minister thawed slightly as the men replied unhesitatingly that they would, indeed, entrust the message to a woman.

"I am just a messenger with a supremely important message to share," Laura explained. In spite of some resistance because she was a woman, she eventually was accepted in the role of an evangelist in the conference.

Although the majority of converts to Adventism are women, it is not unusual for Laura Gonzales to present for membership a group of whom the majority are men.

Mrs. Gonzales has traveled to other islands to conduct evangelistic crusades. When her life was threatened during meetings on the island of Tobago, the local pastor offered to go with her to contact the police. Laura explained, "When I'm in trouble, I don't go to the police; I go to the Lord on my knees." After praying, she sought out the cult member who had threatened her and through her loving ministry brought him to the Lord.

At first Laura's irreligious husband objected to her intense involvement in the Lord's work. She fasted and prayed for his conversion in order that he might be saved. She longed for him to understand her compelling motivation to preach. Her husband did accept Christ. Now he is Laura's projectionist and assistant.

The gift of healing is much valued in the culture in which Laura works. Consequently she prays earnestly to God to bring sick people back to health for His glory and to give credence to His representatives. God has answered her prayers with miracles of healing.

While giving proof of her calling, Laura Gonzales has developed sound and productive evangelistic methods. She speaks on health topics to gain attention for her meetings. A series typically lasts six or seven weeks, running every night except Thursdays. Saturday night she calls "love night" and speaks to the young people about their relationships, love and sex and practical problems.

Not only does she preach; she also conducts a Bible class, which is important for bringing people to a full understanding of Bible truth and the Adventist lifestyle.

She invites prayer requests. In the staff prayer circle, team members pray for individuals by name. "You can preach and preach," Laura says, "but as a result of prayer, we get good success."

When her children were small, women in the churches helped care for them during the evangelistic crusades as their part of the missionary effort. Also, her husband since his conversion has been most helpful.

Laura rises at four, has an hour with the Lord, then gets her laundry or other housework done, and by seven is ready to commence a day's work for the church.

When she needs to step in to pastor a district, Mrs. Gonzales takes pains to get to know and become able to work with the elders and other church leadership.

More than 1300 people have joined the church through Mrs. Gonzales' efforts.10 Daily she seeks the Lord earnestly to direct her work as she searches for additional converts for His kingdom.

Maybelle Vandermark Goransson

Maybelle Vandermark prepared for the ministry by studying theology in college and continuing with an M.A. in theology from the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary.

In Virginia Maybelle taught school and assisted Lester Coon in evangelism at the same time. After Elder Coon left, Miss Vandermark pastored the church, continuing her teaching as well.

When a departmental secretary was needed in West Virginia, Maybelle went there to carry all four departments: education, home missionary, Sabbath school, and youth. She explained simply, "Those were the days when men were hard to get."

As an associate professor of religion and associate dean, for 20 years Miss Vandermark taught and administered at Columbia Union College. From there she was called to the General Conference to be an assistant director of the lay activities department. She particularly worked with the Dorcas and the Adventist Disaster and Relief Administration. She traveled and spoke around the world.

The General Conference released Miss Vandermark to help Southern Missionary College as temporary dean of women and associate professor of religion for about a year and a half during 1963 and 1964; then she returned to the General Conference.

Although a man similarly employed would almost certainly have been ordained to the ministry, Maybelle's official status over the years was that of a credentialed missionary. Nevertheless, some of her students at Southern Missionary College assumed that she was ordained.11 This is understandable when one reviews the diverse and often weighty ministerial responsibilities that Miss Vandermark carried. The writer is certain that Miss Vandermark did not contribute to the rumors of her supposed ordination.

Now married and retired in North Carolina, Mrs. Goransson continues ministering to others. Asked about the report from SMC that she was ordained, she responded,

I am a credentialed missionary—that's about it. I was a pastor and minister but not ordained, and was assistant professor of religion at CUC [Columbia Union College] for 20 years.

. . . . I wasn't licensed, either—I just was pastor, religion teacher. It was a great experience, anyway.12

Viviane Haenni

As a youth pastor in Gland, Switzerland, and then associate pastor in the 350-member congregation at Geneva, Viviane Haenni served four years. In answer to the question, "What led you into ministry?" Viviane replied,

It was simply the sense of God's call in my life, to serve Him and His church. Of course, the sense of God's call in one's life is very subjective. But it has a point in the historical life span of a person. And for me it began when I was six years old.

She was attending a youth camp. A missionary, after telling stories about his work in Africa, invited every child who wanted to be a pastor or missionary in the future to come to the front. People laughed a little bit, she remembers, at the sight of a small girl walking down the aisle as a future minister, but she felt compelled to take her stand with the missionary.

Throughout her childhood, Viviane's passion to work for God was never extinguished. However, at times she had difficulty keeping this fire alive because there were no role models, no women in the church ready to encourage her in the direction of her calling. Nevertheless, her dedicated mother helped her draw close to the Lord and affirmed her daughter's commitment to serve the church.

While visiting the United States at the age of 19, Viviane enrolled in religion courses at Columbia Union College. When Professor Robert Zamora inquired about her plans upon returning to Switzerland, Miss Haenni replied, "I will be a social worker." Dr. Zamora responded, "I think enough women can do that. What about going into ministry?"

Immediately she remembered her dream, her calling from six years of age, and agreed that she must answer that call.

At the Seminaire Adventiste du Salève in France she completed her B.A. and M.A. degrees in theology. Presently Miss Haenni is a Ph.D. student in religion at the Seventh-day Adventist Seminary at Andrews University.

People sometimes ask her, "What is your conviction concerning the certainty of your call?"

Viviane responds that when she was a pastor, it was the only time that she has felt herself to be a complete woman. As a minister to the church and its members in Geneva, she had the sense that all her potential, all her emotions, all her powers of decision, and all her creativity were used. "I think," she reflects, "that when we have this sense of being complete, total, that's where God has called us. It's where God has called me."13

Madelynn Jones Haldeman

An associate professor in the division of religion at Loma Linda University, Dr. Madelynn Jones Haldeman has pioneered for women with distinction and grace. She prepares theological students for the ministry and makes religion relevant to general education students.

She knew clearly the career of choice, had it been available:

At my mother's knee I learned the Bible and determined, as a very young child, to become a minister. Upon graduation from college and the seminary, I was denied the opportunity to intern as a minister because I was a woman. Teaching became my alternative profession.14

Dr. Haldeman prepared with a B.A. in theology, an M.A. in systematic theology/Biblical languages, and a Ph.D. in New Testament exegesis. Her gifts for ministry are evident in her preaching, workshops, and writing as well as teaching.

Kendra Haloviak

Kendra graduated from Columbia Union College with a B.A. in theology and English with highest honors in 1989. She served as an intern pastor at the Kettering, Ohio, Seventh-day Adventist Church and a part-time chaplain for the Kettering College of Medical Arts. As this book goes to press she is planning to enter the M.Div. program at the Theological Seminary at Andrews University and to join the staff of the nearby All Nations Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Lucile Harper-Knapp

One of the women who attended college when Adventist women were not being encouraged to take seminary training, Lucile Harper-Knapp waited 12 years for an invitation to teach religion in an Adventist college. Then she exclaimed, "What hath God wrought!"

Mrs. Knapp is an associate professor of Biblical studies at Walla Walla College, where she has taught since 1961.

She observes that being a college religion teacher is probably even more lonely than being in the preaching ministry, so far as female peer companionship is concerned. Nevertheless, she is grateful to be a pioneer woman in a profession that traditionally requires pastoral experience after ordination, not available to women, as a qualification.

Margaret Hempe

Margaret Hempe is one of the forerunners of the modern movement of women into Adventist ministry. At the Loma Linda University Church, Senior Pastor William Loveless assigned the title "parish worker" to Peg Hempe and encouraged her to use her gifts of ministry for the upbuilding of that large congregation. In the 1970s Mrs. Hempe's title was adjusted to associate pastor. In the 1980s she was allowed to baptize new members.

Mrs. Hempe has been able to endure the uncertain fortunes of a woman in ministry. She provides a giant role model for younger women called to follow in her footsteps.

Esther Ramharacksingh Knott

At the age of three, Esther began sharing her love for Jesus. She gave her first Bible studies after her first year in college. When people with whom she had studied chose to follow Jesus, Esther was thrilled. During her third summer of college she worked with an evangelistic team. Again she was awed that through her people could form a clearer picture of God and come to love Him.

Those who observed her witnessing activities mistakenly supposed that Esther was a theology major. She says she fought against her call to the ministry. However, during her senior year she finally changed her major to religion. She found peace of mind when she said "yes" to God's calling for her life.

To her major in religion Esther added minors in physical education and health; she has used this adjunct training in ministries leading to Bible studies and baptisms.

Esther served as campus chaplain at Broadview Academy 1980-83 and as assistant chaplain at Andrews University 1985-87. She has worked in the North American Division office of education, led Bible camps and leadership retreats, and conducted a week of prayer at Valley Grande Academy in Texas.

Esther Ramharacksingh joined the pastoral staff of Sligo Seventh-day Adventist Church in January 1990. Now married to Ron Knott, she continues her career in ministry.15

Juanita Kretschmar

Juanita Kretschmar administers the E-Van-gelism ministry, a distinctive program that takes the gospel directly to people on the streets of New York City. She serves as director of the health and temperance, community services and inner city departments of the Greater New York Conference. Juanita preaches in local churches and receives many invitations to travel to speak at camp meetings, workshops, and retreats.

The van program distributes literature along with food and offers an intense prayer-counseling service alongside health screening. Prayer is a very real part of the van ministries program. Specific prayer times are scheduled three times a day at the van center; phone calls come in constantly for prayer counseling. Prayer for the reception of the Holy Spirit is central.

On the vans people frequently give their hearts to Christ. Interested people are directed to the New York City Adventist churches; conversions and baptisms are some of the results.

Mrs. Kretschmar publishs a paper, The Ministry of E-Van-gelism, that shares with contributors and prayer partners many thrilling stories of the results of dependence on God in unpredictable situations as the intrepid staff go about their work for the Lord.

The Power to Cope television program, which Juanita hosts and produces, airs in New York City and nationally on the VISN (interfaith) satellite network as well as three ABN outlets. Betty Cooney produces this half-hour program for radio.

The three-quarter-million-dollar yearly E-Van-gelism program headed by Juanita Kretschmar is a faith ministry supported by God through his people. Although the humility of the women leading this Christ-centered city ministry is commendable, yet this work needs to be widely known throughout the denomination in order that many people can give thanks for, pray for, and contribute toward this remarkable venture of faith.16

Delcy Gustin Kuhlman

Mrs. Kuhlman's 25 years of mothering her own and other people's children contributed insights concerning unmet needs for pastoral services to help people surmount everyday stresses. Accordingly she earned a Master of Divinity degree at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary and continued for five units of clinical pastoral education.

With this preparation and the endorsement of the Adventist chaplaincy ministries office, she assumed the responsibilities of staff chaplain for the Memorial Hospital of South Bend, Indiana.

Mrs. Kuhlman has just resigned from that position because she and her husband feel called to establish a spiritual retreat facility. It will be located on 70 acres near the seminary at Andrews University in order to allow easy access to ministers, students, and others wishing to enrich their spiritual development.

Juanita S. Mayer

After studying religious education at Columbia Union College, Juanita Mayer continued her preparation with an M.A. in counseling; she also became a fellow in the College of Chaplains.

Miss Mayer held the responsibility of chaplain at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital in Maryland from 1985 to 1988. She is presently chaplain at Shawnee Mission Medical Center in Kansas, where along with other duties she is especially involved in ministry to single people on the staff and elsewhere.

Beatrice Short Neall

Though Mrs. Neall took a modified theology major, there was no way open for her to enter the ministry other than the route which she followed, which was to marry a minister. She and her minister husband lived in Cambodia, Vietnam, and Singapore. Beatrice taught Bible to nurses, conducted ministerial training in Vietnam, and from 1971 to 1974 was a Bible teacher at Southeast Asia Union College.

On furloughs she completed M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in religious education at Andrews University; in the process she enrolled in many seminary courses.

Since 1977 Dr. Neall has served as an associate professor of religion at Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska. She has written Bible courses for The Voice of Prophecy in the United States and in Asia and has authored several doctrinal books. She served on the Women's Commission in 1985 and is a member of the General Conference committees for Bible study, Biblical research, and Daniel and Revelation.

Norma Keough Osborn

A church school teacher and mother, Norma Osborn had previously completed bachelor's and master's degrees in education. Because of her evident abilities and experience in education, the Sligo Church pastoral staff invited her to become an associate pastor for children's ministries for their 3,000-member congregation.

Beginning in 1989, she has been able to baptize candidates she has prepared, including her daugher. She thoroughly enjoys her ministry and feels supported and encouraged. Nevertheless, Mrs. Osborn sometimes wishes that there were more women in similar positions so that when she encounters disillusionment along with the joys, she would have understanding listeners; and when an idea works especially well, she could share it.

Her comment concerning her position: "I believe with all my heart, and I am always totally amazed, that the Lord wants me here. His will for me is my priority."

Yvonne Øster

In Lintöping, Sweden, Yvonne Øster pastors the Seventh-day Adventist Church. She find that her greatest rewards result from evangelism, bringing people to Christ.

Yvonne would have liked to become a pastor much earlier but was advised that no employment would be available. Of a practical mind, she became a teacher. She married and parented four children.

When Mr. Øster lost his employment in Denmark, he and his family prepared to move to Sweden, Mrs. Øster's original home. On a trip to Lintöping to look for a house, Mr. Øster visited the local Seventh-day Adventist church; after the service he conversed with the retiring pastor. The minister asked whether Mr. Øster, a university lecturer in religion, would be willing to pastor the church for a year while the incoming minister completed his training. Mr. Øster replied in the negative for himself but suggested that his wife be asked.

Yvonne didn't even know of this exchange until, a month later, she received a letter from the Swedish Union asking her to serve as interim pastor of the church at Lintöping.

Temporary became permanent after six months. Yvonne says, "In Sweden we have a long tradition of women in the pulpit, and I have seen and heard them. I have role models. Currently there are three women pastors in Sweden."17

Collette Crowell Pekar

Collette reports experiencing a clear calling to the ministry while in college. She was awakened in the night on several occasions to think and pray about the matter, never experiencing peace of mind until she changed her major from chemistry to theology. She completed her B.A. in theology at Walla Walla College and the M. Div. degree at Andrews University.

Collette has functioned as an associate pastor in Pendleton, Oregon, and at the Yakima and Spokane Central churches in Washingon. Since 1988 she has been part-time associate pastor in the St. Maries and Osburn churches in Idaho, where her husband is pastor.

Collette has baptized just one person at the time of this writing, and that was her father, who was dying of cancer. She wrote, "It was one of the greatest thrills of my life."

Mrs. Pekar believes that "There is nothing more exciting than writing and delivering a new sermon and seeing lives change in response to God's Word." She also thrives on personal evangelism and conducts numerous Bible studies each week.

Since she is being paid only a quarter salary, she has found it necessary to take a full-time teaching position. She feels pulled in two directions and would prefer to concentrate on soul winning.

Having pastored in five churches, Mrs. Pekar can report that while she has encountered skepticism concerning her ministerial role, this disappears as members come to appreciate the balance a male-female pastoral team provides a congregation.

Margo Rae Mattson Pitrone

Associate pastor of the San Diego Central Seventh-day Adventist Church, Margaret Pitrone desired from childhood to be a minister. God has opened doors for her in surprising ways: the Pennsylvania Conference administration encouraged her to return to seminary; she was accepted by Princeton Theological Seminary within two weeks after applying; her husband, who works in a highly limited and specialized field of engineering, has found employment in places where Margo has needed to pursue her ministry.

Besides her seminary studies at Andrews University and Princeton Theological Seminary, Margo holds bachelor's degrees in social work, religion, and psychology from Andrews.

Since serving as a minister had been the dream of her life, becoming an associate pastor at Paradise Valley Seventh-day Adventist Church in 1988 became the fulfillment of that vision. In 1989 Mrs. Pitrone accepted the position of associate pastor at San Diego Central Church.

"I love the work," she comments, "especially one-to-one Bible study and the preaching! But it is hard work, and often discouraging." She has been reassured that members who initially opposed having a woman as an associate pastor have, because of her performance, in most cases changed to support.

Margaret Prange
Licensed minister 1975 to present

A convert to Adventism in 1962, Margaret Prange attended Marienhöhe Seminary in Germany. Upon graduation she entered the pastorate and has continued her ministry for more than two decades.

Conference leaders, recognizing the need in her area, licensed her as a minister. Immediately she baptized six converts who had been waiting some time for baptism because no ordained minister was available. Mrs. Prange has regularly baptized as part of her work since that time. She is the district pastor of the Hamm, Arnsberg, and Soest churches in the Westphalian Conference. There are other women licensed ministers in the Federal Republic of Germany, but Mrs. Prange is the only one who baptizes new members. She says that she has been overwhelmingly accepted in her role by her congregations.

Margaret was a delegate to the 1989 Commission on the Role of Women in the Church.

Mrs. Prange's superior, the conference secretary, wrote to General Conference President Pierson in 1977 begging to be given "a free hand in direction of an ordination" for this woman. "We are only fair in saying that she is one of our best ministers we have within our Union," he wrote, having "studied a full education at our theological college in Darmstadt."18 After 12 years, permission to ordain her has not yet been granted.19

Sheryll Prinz-McMillan

Sheryll had supposed that the ministry was a field closed to her because of her sex. However, an opportunity for summer ministry as youth pastor in Northern California and then two years of pastoring an inter-denominational congregation showed her that doors could open.

She studied theology with a pastoral emphasis at Pacific Union College, then continued toward a master's in marriage, family, and child counseling at Loma Linda University. Having been associate pastor at Calimesa Seventh-day Adventist Church in Southeastern California for two years, Mrs. Prinz-McMillan is presently at Andrews University completing her Master of Divinity degree.

Delores Robinson

Delores Robinson had for more than 20 years brought people to a knowledge of the gospel and the specific teachings of the Seventh-day Adventist denomination. Always when the candidates were ready for church membership, she had turned them over to a senior pastor to officiate in the rite of baptism.

Therefore it was a high day on July 11, 1987, when Pastor Robinson conducted her first baptism. At the time she was associate pastor of the Arden Hills Church in Highland, California; however, for the baptism she returned to a church at which she had labored previously for five years. She baptized three teenagers and an adult man. Stepping into the water with a 14-year-old lad with whom she had worked for five years as he progressed from behavioral problems to a surrender to Jesus, she felt in a unique way the presence of the Spirit, who had been leading both convert and pastor to that point.20

Leona Glidden Running

Bowing to the tradition-based stereotypes of her youth, a capable young woman reluctantly admitted that she was of the wrong gender to be allowed into the regular ministry. Dr. Leona Running adapted to the circumstances and has used her gifts to teach Biblical languages to ministerial students at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary for more than three decades. A formative influence on a whole generation of clergy, Dr. Running has conducted her ministry outside as well as inside the classroom. She has found creative ways to assist students not only in learning the languages of their profession but also in surviving crises by means of her counseling, loans, and gifts of everything from furniture to money.

Her educational preparation includes an M.A. degree from the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary in Biblical Greek and Biblical Hebrew as well as a Ph.D. degree from Johns Hopkins University in Semitic languages.

Although officially retired, Dr. Running still teaches part time at the Theological Seminary.

Annette Schildt

Annette Schildt graduated in 1985 from Marienhöhe Seminary, where Seventh-day Adventist ministers are trained at Darmstadt in the Federal Republic of Germany. Thereupon she entered the ministry in Darmstadt. She says, "I love my job, but sometimes I am lonely in my position." She is the only woman minister in her conference. However, Annette supplied a list of women ministers in other parts of Germany (found in the last part of this chapter).

Penny Shell

"After college," Penny wrote, "I followed the calls of church leaders for 14 years from school to school around the United States and to three years of teaching overseas in Singapore." However, the most powerful call she ever experienced did not come from a human voice: "It was the still, small voice of God in the events of my life and the meditations of my heart."

One life experience through which Penny heard God's call was caring for her parents, both of whom died of cancer within a year's time. Another was her contact with a woman chaplain, Valerie Phillips, of Battle Creek Sanitarium; Penny realized that a woman could be a chaplain and that she and Valerie had similar gifts.

By way of preparation, Penny took an M.A. in religion and an Ed.D. in religious education at Andrews University. She is certified as a fellow in the College of Chaplains.

Dr. Shell was called to be the first chaplain and the director of pastoral care for Thorek Hospital and Medical Center in Chicago. While there (1984-88), she inspired many care-givers by her workshops concerning ministry to AIDS patients.

Dr. Shell moved to the chaplaincy of the Shady Grove Adventist Hospital in 1988. She conducts funerals and weddings in addition to her bedside ministry. Seeing the results of her ministry has allowed her to believe, "Yes, I am a minister."21

Margaret L. Davison Turner

This remarkable woman, previously a nursing instructor at Loma Linda University, completed her Master of Divinity degree at United Theological Seminary, Dayton, Ohio, after reaching 60 years of age. Further education gained her entry into the College of Chaplains.

Mrs. Turner is a staff chaplain at Kettering Medical Center in Ohio. As an ordained local elder she has assisted with communion services; she has conducted anointings and funerals.

She is awed as she sees all the gifts that God has given her being drawn together and integrated in this ministry.

Helen Rice Tyler

In light of her natural gifts, life experiences, and appropriate education, Dr. Helen Tyler understands herself to be called to ministry. The church recognizes her call by issuing her the credentials of a commissioned minister.

In her first profession as a nursing administrator in Thailand, Helen felt limited by not having training to heal more than medical needs. She emerged from Boston University with an M.A. degree in psychology, better prepared but still lacking essential skills. Mrs. Tyler pursued the D.Min. degree with emphases in psychology and pastoral counseling, in order to be able to put together "a model of ministry to the whole person." She has a wealth of professional preparation and recognition.22

A pastoral psychotherapist, Dr. Tyler is a senior staff member of the Samaritan Center for Counseling and Training in Denver, Colorado. As an elder of the Denver First Seventh-day Adventist Church, she engages in creative ministry for young people.

Previously Dr. Tyler has served as chaplain and pastoral counselor at New England Memorial Hospital. She has conducted marriages and provided premarital counseling.

In Dr. Tyler's view, "Affirmation by ordination is essential. In part one becomes—when the people say `Amen.' " Often one cannot act a role without concurrence of essential others. She observed that within the church her affirmation in ministry is limited mainly to fellow chaplains. When she works outside the denomination, however, she finds acceptance extended to a minister according to the criteria of call, skill, and gifts without consideration of sex.

Betty Unger

Although she has not baptized candidates as of the time this is written, Betty Unger has watched others baptize at least 66 candidates whom she prepared during her 12 years as a Bible worker in Portland, Oregon.

Betty received scant encouragement as a theology major in college; therefore she prepared for two careers, the ministry and home economics teaching. After several years of teaching home economics in high school, Miss Unger switched to Bible work at Portland Adventist Medical Center in Oregon. Since 1984 she has worked as a chaplain at Hinsdale Hospital in Illinois, and she is currently a fellow in the College of Chaplains.

Dolores Faudree Holden Colvin Walsh

Cle Elum, a small town located between two national forests in the state of Washington, might frequently have had no preacher on Sabbath mornings during World War II had not Dolores Walsh, a local lay preacher, filled the pulpit. She was willing to teach the Sabbath school lesson, conduct the mission period, or contribute otherwise as needed.

Working in the Ellensburg, Washington, area, she not only preached and ministered to individuals but also spearheaded a program to send food and medical supplies to people in war-torn Europe.23

Kit Watts

Kit did much of her growing up in Japan as a member of a missionary family. As a child she was an "organizer." She led out in Sabbath schools, Missionary Volunteer programs, and daily devotionals.

After teaching and working as an assistant book editor at the Review, during the early l970s Kit Watts joined the pastoral staff of Sligo Church as the minister of publications. She arrived with a B.A. degree in religion and physical education, and additional hours in journalism. Her gifts were well suited to the position. However, because she was pioneering, she found that a great deal of her energy was consumed with defending a place for women. This reduced the opportunity for engaging in ministry itself. In addition, there was no similar position to which she could expect to move when she left Sligo.

Kit acquired the M.L.S. degree and spent eight years as periodical librarian at Andrews University. While there she added the educational preparation of an M.A. in religion.

Her present position is assistant editor of the Adventist Review with her office at the General Conference headquarters. Joining the Review staff was for Kit a dream come true.

When asked about her sense of call, Kit replied,

I feel called in the sense that I want to help God's voice, His concerns, His assurance be better heard in the world. The gifts I've come to identify in myself are for words—sometimes writing, sometimes speaking, sometimes for programming and structure.

At the Review Kit's gifts are all employed as she ministers weekly to Adventists worldwide in her unique way.

She is the only woman to have been a member of all of the official Seventh-day Adventist commissions set up to study the women's ordination issue in 1973, 1985, 1988, and 1989. Looking beyond herself, she is greatly concerned that other women's gifts be used fully in the Lord's work.

Hyveth Williams

Hyveth Williams was employed as personnel director for Rural America in Washington, D.C., when she experienced a conviction that she should study theology at Columbia Union College in Takoma Park, Maryland. After graduating with high honors from college, she interspersed work on her M.Div. degree at Andrews University with employment as an associate pastor at Sligo Church.

In the summer of 1989 Hyveth accepted a call to be senior pastor of the Boston Seventh-day Adventist Temple. She announced soon after arrival that she loved it there: "The people are wonderful, they're coming back to church, things are happening, and we all feel good about it. Please keep praying!"

More recently, Elder William Johnsson reported in an editorial in the Adventist Review concerning the renewal that has taken place in the Boston Temple congregation since Pastor Williams was placed at the helm. At the time of Hyveth's arrival, membership was in decline, the church needed renovation, and there was no place to park. The conference administration considered selling the property.

Under Pastor Williams' leadership, members geared up for action. They contributed money, painted walls, hung banners, installed carpet. People who had been missing showed up in church. New members transferred into the Boston Temple.

After just four months of this intensive activity, Elder Johnsson was invited to preach at the rededication of the sanctuary. Concerning that event he wrote,

How I loved to see the deacons filling the aisles with extra chairs! Perhaps 600 to 700 people jammed into the church that morning. The offering plates overflowed—money fluttered to the floor when the deacons brought them forward. And the mood? Thanksgiving, rejoicing, wonder, a sense of being part of a miracle.24

Halcyon Westphal Wilson
Licensed minister

Experiences that led Halcyon Westphal Wilson into the ministry include the "empty nest" syndrome, a return to school, and encouragement from one male teacher.

Since 1980 Mrs. Wilson has filled the position of pastor for family life and counseling at the La Sierra Collegiate Church. Previously she was chaplain at White Memorial Hospital for one year. She has completed a B.A. in religion and an M.A. in family life education from Loma Linda University and holds certification in the Association of Couples' Marriage Enrichment and in the National Association of Family Relations.

Mrs. Wilson is a licensed minister. Hesitant about following her call into ministry at first, she is now fully committed.

Other Women Ministers in Europe

There is a tradition of women employed in the ministry outside the United States, particularly during and since World War II. The women evangelists in Finland who were doing an outstanding work during the post-war period were spoken of around the world. Perhaps less is known concerning the devoted women whose names follow here.


Annette Schildt supplied the following list of women ministers (in addition to herself and Margaret Prange, already included in this chapter), with their location and year of graduation from Marienhöhe Seminary.


Anita Schubert Heilbronn 1987
Vera Syring Vellberg-Dürrschg 1988
Christine Wischnat Oberasbach 1988
Claudia Dietz-Miller München 1987
Carola Wilms München (conf. treas.) 1985
Sabine Hölzl Andrews University 1988

Women studying at Marienhöhe Seminary in 1989 included Cornelia Warning, Irene Rosen, Gabriele Baur, Edeltraud Krebelder, and Elke Wander.

Switzerland and France

Viviane Haenni contributed this list of women working in Europe (in addition to herself and Rose-Marie Cornaz, already included in this chapter). Below the name, city, and country is Viviane's note about each.


Mrs. Eva Balmer-LautererWattSwitzerland
      Associate pastor and director of Voice of Prophecy Bible study program

Mrs. Herminie RothOron-la-VilleSwitzerland
      Retired teacher and missionary

Mrs. Magali Osdoit-FigolsCollonges-sous-SalèveSwitzerland
      Ministerial intern

Miss Bernadette MaubertCaenFrance
      Bible worker

Mrs. Helene Dumur-SougeonsReimsFrance
      Called a Bible worker but carrying responsibility of a church pastor

Mrs. Heidi Corboz-DenechauxLe Mée-sur-SeineFrance
      Bible worker in the Dummarie Church

Miss Corinne EgasseLe Mée-sur-SeineFrance
      Has M.A. in Theology; works with mailed Bible course in France

Miss Van LangParisFrance
      Pastor for the Cambodian refugees in Paris

Miss Geneviève Bourion-MontegutNiceFrance
      Pastor of the Nice Church; husband also pastors a nearby church

Mrs. Yvette Dumenil d'EngenteMorlaazFrance
      Assisting her husband with pastoring while raising two children


1 Please send information about Seventh-day Adventist women in ministry to Josephine Benton, 11727 Crystal Falls Drive, Smithsburg, MD 21783.

2 "Leslie Bumgardner," Adventist Women in Ministry: Our Stories (Langley Park, Maryland: The Association of Adventist Women, 1988): 8.

3 "Rose Mary Cornaz," Adventist Women in Ministry, 10.

4 "Wanda Elaine Davis," Adventist Women in Ministry, 6.

5 Evelyn Clair Delafield, conversation with the author.

6 Evelyn Clair Delafield, The Love Prescription (Mountain View, Cal.: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1980).

7 Diane Forsyth, "From the Pulpit: Hiding and Seeking," The Adventist Woman (June/July 1989): 2.

8 Marsha Tuttle Frost, "Pastoring and Parenting," The Adventist Woman (June/July 1989): 7.

9 "Linda Gage," Adventist Women in Ministry: Our Stories (Langley Park, Maryland: Association of Adventist Women, 1988): 4.

10 Laura Gonzales, presentation at the Association of Adventist Forums meeting in Washington, D.C., July 20, 1985; interview with the writer the same day.

11 Arnold B. Clapp, Hendersonville, Tennessee, letter to the writer, Aug. 8, 1984.

12 Maybelle Vandermark Goransson, Hendersonville, N.C., letter to the writer July 17, 1985.

13 "Viviane Haenni," Adventist Women in Ministry: Our Stories (Langley Park, Md.: Association of Adventist Women, 1988): 7.

14 "Adventist Women in Ministry Help in Global Outreach: Madelynn Jones Haldeman," Adventist Woman (June/July/August 1990): 8.

15 "Catching the Vision," The Adventist Woman, (February/March 1990): 4.

16 The Ministry of E-Van-gelism, issues for 1989; Betty Cooney, Director of Communications, Greater New York Conference, letter to the author, Sept. 6, 1989.

17 "Yvonne Øster," Adventist Women in Ministry: Our Stories (Langley Park, Md.: Association of Adventist Women, 1988), 3.

18 Gunter Fraatz, Secretary of Westphalian Conference, letter to Robert Peirson, President of the General Conference, July 1, 1977.

19 "Federal Republic of Germany," Spectrum (July 1989): 12, 13; Bert Haloviak, "Ellen White Endorsed Adventist Women Ministers," Spectrum (July 1989); 36, 37.

20 Delores Robinson, "My Work As a Pastor," The Adventist Woman (June/July 1989): 8.

21 Jane Thayer, "Penny Shell: Touching Lives," Adventist Review (Dec. 1, 1988), 20-21.

22 Dr. Tyler is a fellow of the American Association of Pastoral Counselors and of the College of Chaplains as well as a clinical member of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists.

23 Donald J. Cherry, Bremerton, Washington, letter to the writer, 1984; Dolores Faudree Holden Colvin Walsh, telephone conversation with the writer, Oct. 28, 1984.

24 William G. Johnsson, "Born to Grow," Adventist Review (22 March 1990): 4.

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