Women of Stockholm meet together for Women's International Day of Prayer

Adventist Women in Stockholm Celebrate International Women's Day of Prayer

Personal prayer time progressing along prayer stations provides participants opportunity to ponder the probing question, "How do you smell?"

Trans-European Division (TED)

[Sweden] Is there any better way of celebrating Women's Ministries special day designated for International Women’s Day of Prayer than with a visit from our worldwide Women’s Ministries Director Heather-Dawn Small? Women from the churches in Stockholm had been planning and anticipating her first visit to Sweden—and finally the weekend arrived, March 6 and 7, 2020.

After some mingling with the women Friday evening, Heather-Dawn Small gave an overview of the mission of Women’s Ministries (WM), what it is all about, and how the pillars of Nurture, Empower, and Outreach are needed among women everywhere, even in 21st century Sweden. Equally important, she disarmed some of the myths people spread about Women’s Ministries—things it is not. At this point, I wished the whole congregation had been there, not just the women already engaged in or interested in Women’s Ministries. We closed the evening with an inspiring devotional. Heather-Dawn shared practical advice on how to form a Bible study routine and stick to it, by finding your own time, your own special place, and your own way of connecting to the Lord through personal worship and studying His Word. ("Discover the Love of Your Life" resource, download here)

Sabbath morning came, and with it an excited buzz of active women all dressed in bright turquoise T-shirts and Women’s Ministries scarves. Since the first cases of people infected with the coronavirus had just begun in Stockholm, participants attempted to avoid close body contact. But it is difficult not to hug someone coming for the church service. For the mission feature in Sabbath School, Heather-Dawn Small had prepared a special slide showing examples of Women’s Ministries activities around the globe. What a beautiful and colorful picture of women this was, all contributing to God’s work with their gifts and within their cultural context.

The church service began with women marching into the sanctuary singing “We are women of faith.” This was a women’s choir formed to provide special music for the weekend. It was built of young and old, from different culture groups, speaking various languages, but all were united in worship. Women led the colorful church service which included a special time of prayer, special music by the women’s choir, and a children’s story with pig “Christina” (which in Swedish can be a word game – “Gris-Stina,” meaning “pig Stina”). Connecting to the key verse, 2 Corinthians 2:14, 15, Heather-Dawn asked each one during her sermon the somewhat disturbing question, “How do you smell?” Which aroma do you spread around you, the stench of death or the fragrance of life?

Following a delicious Ghanaian lunch, the different groups of women led us through a time of praise and worship after which every woman was invited to a personal time of personal prayer while going through prayer stations. We gathered again for Heather-Dawn’s devotional, “My time with God.”

After that, we switched our focus to the future. Reflecting on the messages of the conference, women were encouraged to ask questions and share thoughts that had formed during the weekend, focusing in particular on how we can put what we have learned into action. This session was led by Sonja Kalmbach, the WM director of the Swedish Union, and by Clair Sanches-Schutte, the WM director for the Trans-European Division.

We closed this wonderful weekend with an agape meal.

Written by Sonja Kalmbach, WM director of the Swedish Union of Churches

Published in Mosaic newsletter, 2020 Q1&2, Spring issue