Women’s Ministries Work in Latvia

At the end of this week Women’s Ministries will have a special meeting, where our sisters will share their experience of Christian ministry. Therefore I asked Dagnija Roderte, Women’s Ministries Department Director of Latvian Conference, to share her view of the ministry her department is doing.

— Dagnija, tell us please what is the purpose of Women’s Ministry?
— Any human being whose heart is touched by the loving call of God, can minister in the variety of different ways. God has given special gifts to women for the benefit of His church and society around it. God can bless every desire of human heart to minister to others. Purpose of the Women’s Ministry is to minister to women in the church and outside of it. Its motive is: ministry based on the current needs.

For example, if there are new mothers in the church, it would be good to find some ways how to support them by organizing special club of interests, older sisters could sit in with their children so that new mothers could also participate in the worship service. Prayer groups, topical (thematic) meetings, where they can share and/or learn something about they are interested in — family, marriage, studies about women in the Bible, cookery, healthy food, etc. — that’s only part of what this all-embracing ministry can offer!

— What are the roots of Women’s Ministry in Latvia?
— Already in the 1930-ies in many churches in Latvia were women groups. Mostly those were needlework groups, where women learned to make clothes, to knit, and did lots of handiwork for the charity purposes. In the course of time, there were economical and political changes in the country and that made impact on the type of ministry women were involved in. But always it was based on the current needs and possibilities. For example, in the 1960-ies choir was organized in one of the churches, and it was active for many years. 1980-ies brought sharp turn, when following the summon of the General Conference, which was based on the experience in different churches in different parts of the world, Latvian Conference organized Women’s Ministry Department. Big efforts were put in providing necessary education: there were specially organized seminars where all coteries and pastors were trained and motivated. Since 1999 in all local churches in Latvia we participate in the International Day of Prayer (in March) and International Emphasis Day (in June).

— What are the duties of the leader of Women’s Ministry Department?
— Every quarter I organise one day seminars, where all those who want to minister can participate. Education, exchange of experience, preparing of materials — these are main directions in my ministry as a Women’ s Ministries Department Director. My job description also includes to share information which I receive with the local churches, to organize seminars and polling, so that our ministry could be effective and would comply with the current needs in the church.

— Can you name some examples of women’s ministry?
— In one church sisters are involved in the charity soup kitchen project, which is organised by the city government. Ministry in the prayer groups is very important part of our practical ministry. Many years Vineta Laudurga is ministering to the deaf people in Riga. Another lady has devoted her life to the ministry, and according to the need, she goes to the particular region in Latvia, lives there, makes friends and offers them spiritual literature. Also I can mention Valda Reke who takes active part in preparing programs for the Latvian Christian Radio – she speaks about family issues and maintaining of spiritual health.

Woman’s sensual and responsive heart can capture moments of life, and if God has given special gift, it materializes into poetry or music. In autumn of 1999 in Riga was organized very interesting event where to artists met together — a poet and a composer. Ther were performed songs written by Vesma Geide with lyrics of Marite Terauda. That meeting was pleasant surprise for both women and acquaintance with them brought joy to many participants. This year we had very special event when new book of poetry was published. We had meeting with its author Biruta Ernestsone. She shared her story and what caused her to write Christian poetry. But this book would never reach its readers if not another woman whose energy helped to make it reality. Now thanks to both of them everyone now can buy this book and find new strength in it.

— This weekend you will have very important meeting…
— Yes, it will be in November 9. This meeting will be led by the TED Women’s Ministry Department Director Anne-May Wollan. This meeting will generate new ideas and new impulses to our sisters and will help them to make their ministry more active and useful. It will be one day seminar in Riga, 12a Baznica Str., Latvia. Seminar will start in 14:00-15:25, break, 17:00-19:30.
Main topics:
1) The creation of self-confidence of woman;
2) Evaluation of women’s needs in the local church.

— What are the main women’s ministries directions in the future?
— Starting with the next year we will participate in the worldwide project, which calls church to be more responsive to the problems of cruelty, violence and abuse in the families. Abuse affects not only its victims but also all those who are involved in it. Currently we are sometimes too skeptical against this problem, as if it had no influence on the life and ministry of the church. Too often we turn away when we hear about husband beating his wife after hard working day, we sigh when we hear about our dear children loosing their virginity, and so it goes as long as it passes us by. But church cannot be indifferent of what goes on in the society, because we are part of the society. Therefore Women’s Ministry shows its concern and we work on materials to educate people, to help pastors, church leaders and ordinary church members to give help to victims of abuse, if something like that will happen in the future. Its time to open our eyes and to take an action in the situation which influences church even today. In my vision Women’s Ministry has to work far beyond the boundaries of the local church, so that we could be people who see problems in the society, people with deep feelings, responsive to the needs of local society. We need to minister for everyone who are in need, who long for strengthening and encouragement.

Guntis Bukalders,
Baltic Union Conference Communication Director