The ICOC Women’s Service Team has been active throughout 2021 in its Task Forces, as well as continuing to meet online as an entire group approximately every two months throughout the year. We have operated exclusively online throughout 2021 due to coronavirus restrictions.
We thank God for the significant accomplishments of this past year and lessons learned, as we have worked to fulfill our mission statement: To inspire and train women servant leaders around the globe to connect and grow spiritually, and to advance the gospel.
We begin this annual report by acknowledging the continuing outstanding contribution made by the three single women members of our team (see photos below): Erica Fortina (Milan, Italy) has led us to make prayer a priority and has been the inspiration behind the organization of international online prayer times which took place throughout the year, connecting and strengthening thousands of women in our fellowship. Kae Habel (Cebu, Philippines) has brought her professional, technical and creative expertise (in her “day job” she works as a banker) to all our online events, taking us to a higher level than we could have ever hoped for without her; and Susani Karta (Jakarta, Indonesia) has used her role on the WST to help create online international events and provide more educational online resources that have already ministered to audiences of thousands across several regional church families in Asia and beyond.
International Women’s Day Task Force
Each year the WST facilitates the nomination and voting on the theme for our traditional International Day of Prayer, fasting, and action, to coincide with International Women’s Day (March 8). The theme chosen for 2021 was “For Such a Time as This.”
You can search #forsuchatimeasthisicoc in your browser to view ICOC women’s photos and videos and social media posts from many of our women’s ministries around the world, who created evangelistic events centered on this theme. You can also view a selection of our IWD 2021 events from around the world here: https://www.womentoday.international/womens-day, including the March 6, 2021 online event organized by the Jakarta women for the SEA Region churches, with 4000 women in attendance.
At this writing, the IWD task force is soliciting input from women in our Regional Church Families around the world for the 2022 women’s day theme, which will be announced on ICOC websites and social media before the end of 2021.
International Online Prayer Events
Shortly after the Women’s Day events, we began a series of invitations to online international prayer, which we repeated at the end of the summer. The first events we considered an experiment, inviting groups of women mostly through word of mouth. We learned that our sisters love the opportunity to pray and worship online with other women from faraway places!
As our conviction about the value of this kind of activity grew, so did our vision: more women on every continent helped in the organization. In one outstanding example, our sisters gathered a group of 35 volunteers from 18 churches in Asia to create a prayer event entitled “Immeasurably More,” in which 4000 women participated, praying in six languages!
Spanish Women’s Service Team
One of the most exciting developments this year has been the birth of Mujeres Latino America — a regional spin-off of the Women’s Service Team, focused on serving the Spanish-speaking nations of Latin America and the Caribbean. Throughout the year, our WST sisters have worked with Spanish-speaking women in their area of the world to provided spiritually strengthening online events in Spanish. “Tu Sierva Escucha” (Your Servant Hears You) and “Vision Biblica de la Mujer” (Biblical Vision of Women) hosted 500 women each live on a zoom webinar, and had 4000 and 1700 streams on YouTube, respectively. Another event, “Transformadas Para Su Gloria” (Transformed for His Glory) hosted 300 women live on Zoom and 2000 streams on YouTube.
The ICOC Women’s Website, WomenToday.International
This task force managing www.womentoday.international consists of a core group of four to six volunteers who meet weekly, plus a handful of content editors for English submissions and several language groups representing the languages most spoken in our fellowship. New posts appear weekly as a rule, except during special seasons (such as the weeks before Christmas) when we post new content daily. We manage a system of harvesting content from every regional family of churches in our fellowship. Over a two-year period, each month we feature material submitted from a different church family around the world.
In the two years since our launch, the site has had 16,000 users. Last month we saw over 1000 visits to the site, 20% of which came from organic searches on the internet. We have been consistently above industry standard for time spent on the site. We are proud of the growing number of durable online resources which this site provides. We love comments like the one we received today from a church leader who is using the current Advent series of devotionals in her midweek women’s meetings. Over 2000 unique users have logged on to read our advent devotionals in the past week.
Webinars and Crucial Conversations
The stars of 2021 who have taken the mission of this task force to new heights, along with the new Spanish WST, have been our WST women focusing on Asia. The March webinar, aimed at mature singles, entitled Light on a Hill, featuring Dr. Cornelia Haener, was attended by 200 women; their crucial conversation for single mothers, More Than Conquerors Through Him, in June, featuring simultaneous translation into three languages, was attended by 275. Their crescendo was in October with a crucial conversation online for Asian women entitled, You Are Loved. Women in 18 Asian nations participated with six language interpreters, and a viewership of well over 4000 via Zoom and YouTube.
International Women’s Programs Task Force
The WST is tasked with facilitating the organization and planning of the women’s program at any international ICOC conferences that are considered “global.” This task force has rested this year due to the coronavirus restrictions and the postponement of our next World Discipleship Summit, Vision, scheduled for summer 2022. It will resume its planning and oversight of the women’s program for that event early in 2022.
We say goodbye and huge thank you, here at the end of 2021 to our Chair for the past three years, Tammy Fleming (Kyiv, Ukraine). We extend a very warm welcome to Saraí Serra (St. Luis, Argentina) who was confirmed by the delegates’ vote at the end of 2021 as our new Chair. Tammy will retire from the WST but remain a volunteer on WST task forces.
Below is the list of current WST members:
Marci Arneson, Chicago, USA
Victoria Auki, Nairobi, Kenya
Toli Beruah, New Delhi, India
Gillianne Brisebois, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Girlie Cabadsan, Cebu, Philippines
Erica Fortina, Milan, Italy
Sharon Gauthier, Chicago, USA
Kae Habel, Manila, Philippines
Susani Karta, Jakarta, Indonesia
Griselda Lua, Los Angeles, USA
Rolayo Ogbonnaya, Lagos, Nigeria
Vania Salim, Jakarta, Indonesia
Saraí Serra, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Chelsea Thorne, Sydney, Australia
Sirikit Umaguing, Colorado Springs, USA
Please direct any communication to the WST to: firstname.lastname@example.org.