7 November 2023 |
The Association of Adventist Women held a poignant celebration at La Sierra University Church on November 4, honoring trailblazing individuals who have greatly impacted their communities through ministry, scholarship, and humanitarian efforts. The Woman of the Year awards were presented to Dr. Olive Hemmings, Maria Silvia Neri Castrejón, Norma Nashed, and Dr. Drene Somasundram, for their exceptional contributions to theology, church leadership, and humanitarian work.
The event, emceed by Linda Becker and featuring La Sierra faculty Raejin Lee, followed a vespers program dedicated to women evangelists. Dr. Drene Somasundram was recognized for her scholarship and leadership within the church, having transformed struggling churches into thriving communities and mentored a new generation of female pastors in Australia.
In a particularly moving moment, Pastor Maria Silvia Neri Castrejón, the first woman to retire as a pastor in the Inter-America Division, was officially recognized as a pastor, affirming her leadership beyond the title of Bible Worker she held throughout her career.
Norma Nashed, founder of Restore a Child, received the inaugural Woman of the Year for Humanitarian Leadership award. Her charity’s remarkable efforts have led to the construction of schools and support for thousands of children globally, including many who are now leading change in their own communities.
Dr. Olive Hemmings was celebrated for her advocacy for justice and equality in the Christian church and her scholarly work which has addressed critical issues of social and racial justice.
The Association also recognized men who have supported women’s ministry, including the late William G. Johnsson and Adventist Today Editor, Loren Seibold, with Champion of Justice awards for their steadfast support of women in ministry.
The evening concluded with powerful talks and the unveiling of AAW’s translation projects and a new initiative to document the global history of women in the church, as part of its ongoing mission to support women’s leadership in pastoral care. Nominees for next year’s awards are welcomed via the AAW website, with the organization inviting participation from individuals across the world.