Did you know…?
2016 is the 65th anniversary of American Baptist Women’s Ministries!
In 1951, the National Council of American Baptist Women was formed to create a national organization to which each American Baptist woman could belong, and to expand the ministry to include the total mission of the church, including missions with women in the U.S., Puerto Rico, and all over the world. Women wanted to be able to elect their own officers and chairpersons who could focus their energy on the needs of American Baptist women and all that these women could accomplish by working together. They also wanted a focus on leadership development of women to develop a greater capacity for ministry and mission.
In 1965, the name was shortened to American Baptist Women, and in 1990 we became American Baptist Women’s Ministries to emphasize the ministries and mission we engage in as women of faith.
AB Women's Ministries is taking the celebration of our 65th anniversary as a time to honor our past and all those visionary, courageous women who have come before, and to look towards the future that God is unfolding in us, through us, and for us!
Some key moments from our history:
The first summer national women’s conference was held in 1954. The first national event for girls was held in 1992. National events for women and girls are now held in the summer and at other times through the year that, along with regional and local AB Women’s Ministries events for women and girls, continue to provide spiritual growth opportunities, leadership development, and friendships that last!
In 1967, American Baptist women formed a national Ecumenical Relations Committee as race, peace, and ecumenism were a primary concern. Ecumenical relationships are still key to the organization through our participation in Church Women United, North American Baptist Women’s Union, and events such as Ecumenical Advocacy Days.
In the late 1960s and through the 1970s, American Baptist Women advocated for changing attitudes on the role of women in church leadership. American Baptist Women recommended the establishment of the ABCUSA Task Force on Women, working with executive staff of the denomination on changing attitudes towards women in church-related vocations. The results of this task force were the formation of the Women’s Caucus on the General Board, the election of Ruth Rohlfs as president of the Convention (her name had been put forward by American Baptist Women); the establishment of an American Baptist Women’s Sunday to give special attention to the contribution of women in the life of the church; and the formation of American Baptist Women in Ministry, an organization for women in professional church vocations.
In 1975, American Baptist women assumed the responsibility for the operation of the Office of World Affairs at the Church Center for the U.N. for an interim period. Today, American Baptist women regularly attend the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women to better understand issues with impact upon women and girls globally.
Several national mission projects launched by American Baptist Women/AB Women’s Ministries over the years have led to the betterment of the lives of women and girls worldwide.
In 1977, American Baptist women contributed $134,610.53 to the mission project, “Water without Walking,” to provide pump sets to make pure water easily accessible to women in India, Haiti, and other countries. The amount raised exceeded the highest expectations by 500%.
In 1996, American Baptist women raised funds to build the Mitendi Center in Kinshasa, D.R. Congo, Africa, where the Congolese Baptist women teach sewing, health, hygiene, and job skills to help women who are single mothers and women coming out of prostitution.
Between 2007-2013, American Baptist women raised $515,651 for the national mission focus, “Break the Chains: Slavery in the 21st Century.” Funds were granted to current and emerging ministries engaged in the abolition of sex trafficking, victim care and support, and prevention. This amount exceeded the original goal by over 200%.
The Women and Girls Mission Fund, launched in 2011, offers grant funding to ministries in the U.S., Puerto Rico, and globally that work towards the empowerment and self-sufficiency of women and girls. Through WGMF funds, American Baptist women have helped to train women health promoters in Haiti following the cholera epidemic and also provided microloans to Haitian women to begin small businesses; enabled women to participate in the International Coalition Against Prostitution Conference; provided grants to every AB Women’s Ministries region/state organization to use for leadership development; supported Kachin women living in camps for internally displaced persons in Myanmar; supported women recovering from obstetric fistula repair surgery in Malawi, Africa; supported an American Baptist camping program for middle-school girls to help them embrace God’s love and purpose for their lives…and more. Click here for information about the fund and to see what other ministries American Baptist women have supported with their generous giving!
We have been led by a series of national presidents
, each bringing her own God-given strengths and passions to the organization, raised up for leadership "for such a time as this." For a list of the national presidents who have served in ministry with American Baptist women, click here
We have also been led by a series of executive directors
, who have each provided vision and support to the ministry, empowering women and girls in leadership and helping the organization discern God's call for it in each time period. For a list of the executive directors who have served in ministry with American Baptist women, click here
For the current executive committee and staff
of American Baptist Women's Ministries, click here
Please give thanks for the foresight and commitment of the women who signed the original charter of the organization
. Do you know someone still living whose name is on the charter? Please send the name to our national office
Find resources to celebrate the 65th anniversary
with your women's and girls' ministry! Click here
for downloadable materials.
Gift American Baptist Women's Ministries with a $65 anniversary donation for 65 memorable years of ministry with women and girls: Honor the past by supporting the present and ensuring the future! Send your tax-deductible gift by check payable to American Baptist Women's Ministries, marked as "65th Anniversary gift", P.O. Box 851, Valley Forge, PA 19482-0851, or give online with your credit card, by clicking on the donate button.