“First” women before Chris & Chanda
4 March 2022 |
In your current issue of Adventist Today Update, in Lindsey Abston Painter’s “Editor’s Notes” entitled “March is Women’s History Month!” you refer to “firsts” regarding Adventist women in senior leadership positions. One is to “Chris Oberg, the first Adventist woman to be lead pastor of a university congregation.” The other is to “Chanda Nunes, [the] first Black female senior pastor of an institutional church in the North American Division.”
I am very privileged to call Chris Oberg friend. I have great respect and appreciation to her for her significant accomplishments in her years of ministry at the La Sierra University Church. And while I have only had the privilege of interacting with Chanda in a pastors’ group Zoom call, I have reason to express great confidence in her leadership abilities and her ministry giftedness. They are both to be sincerely commended for their accomplishments.
However, in the interest of accuracy, I must point out that neither is a “first.” To my knowledge (and I am willing to be corrected if I am overlooking yet another woman to claim such distinctions) another woman I am privileged to call friend was a first in both categories. Hyveth Williams, a Black female senior pastor of the Campus Hill Church on the campus of Loma Linda University, was a first on both counts. For a number of years, Hyveth’s and my pastoral ministries overlapped on the same campus as senior pastors of churches that lie only (maybe) 300 yards from each other (as the crow flies!). Both churches are recognized as serving Loma Linda University. In fact, Campus Hill is the mother church to the Loma Linda University Church. Hyveth ministered successfully for many years in that setting.
Hyveth, Chris and Chanda all three deserve to be lauded for their work. They all three left footprints for many other women to follow. And I wish all three God’s richest blessings on their current ministry roles. I just want to gently assure Hyveth that her significant accomplishments have not been forgotten.
Randy Roberts, DMin, LMFT
Senior Pastor, Loma Linda University Church