Schwäbisch Gmünd, Germany [Eli Diez, CD EUDNews]. "Thank you for bringing summer back to us!" These were the welcoming words of Dr. Joachim Bläse, First Mayor and Head of Education Department, Sports and Social Affairs of the city of Schwäbisch Gmünd, and greeted the participants of the first international Women's Congress of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Central and Southern Europe (Inter-European Division, EUD) on Friday, September 5th. "What if we had women as presidents in Russia, the Ukraine and in the countries of Africa?" he asked, getting an applause for his answer: "Women have the power and the gift to resolve conflicts differently. Then he encouraged all the women to get involved in their countries of origin, "because only with peace can we achieve anything and we need you as women."
"Men and women need each other," added the Congress leader Denise Hochstrasser (Krattigen, Switzerland) and then bid the "chivalrous"men (estimated at 40) to participate as companions and assistants. She compared the two-year planning phase with "pregnancy", with a blissful conclusion now taking place this weekend. I confess, that at first, Idid not rightly “estimate the cost”, rather had a vision that is now become a reality, thanks to the support and motivated team of the church leadership in Bern.
In her introduction, Mrs Hochstrasser welcomed individual delegations (here arranged according to statistics): A third of the participants (255) came from Germany (85 from North and East Germany, 170 from southern Germany), followed by Switzerland (66). France-Belgium, Italy and Romania follow with about 60 women, 47 from Bulgaria, the organizers and their assistants (EUD) with 41 delegations, Austria 35, the Czech Republic and Slovakia with 21, Spain with 18 and Portugal with 16.
After welcoming speeches from the representatives of the Church in Baden-Württemberg (Mark List) and southern Germany (Werner Dullinger) the EUD President of the Church, Pastor Bruno Vertallier, thanked the women for bringing color into the church, and encouraged them to be a light in the world.
In the evening, as in the afternoon, the music was excellent. Harpist Claudia Forster (Ansbach) inspired the audience with her testimony and with two wonderful musical selections. Then Heather-Dawn Small, director of Women's Department of the Seventh-day Adventist World Church (Maryland, Washington DC), encouraged the listeners in a very personal and dynamic speech, that with the grace of God in their lives, they can have an impact and make a noticeable difference in their families and with their friends.
From September 5-8, the Congress was held in the Christian Centre "Haus Schönblick" under the motto "Women in Action". Hannele Ottschofski, Administrative Assistant (Hechingen) offered suggestions on how to live as Christians in our families and communities in such a complex and secular society.
In addition to church service on Saturday, there were 17 other seminars and various events - including a charity concert on Sunday evening at the State Garden Show to help victims of female genital mutilation in Kenya.
For more information about the Congress (in English): http://www.women.eud.adventist.org/women-in-action
pictures: 1. Dr. Joachim Bläse, First Mayor and Head of Education Department, Sports and Social Affairs of the city of Schwäbisch Gmünd; 2. The participants (credtis: Eli Diez)