September 9, 2014

Inaugural Congress in Germany Seeks to Empower Women

More than 700 women
from 20 European countries gathered in Germany over the weekend for a
first-ever conference aimed at nurturing their needs and empowering them to assist
other women in the Seventh-day Adventist Church and their own communities.

The four-day Inter-European
Division Women’s Congress, which ended Monday in the German city of Schwäbisch Gmünd,
included plenary presentations and 17 workshops and a flash mob against violence.

A senior city official
raised the bar high for women in his welcoming remarks,
suggesting that the conflict in eastern Ukraine that has killed more than 2,600
people since April would not have started if women held the presidencies of
Ukraine and Russia.

"What if we had
women as presidents in Russia, Ukraine and in the countries of Africa?"
said Joachim Bläse, the city’s first mayor and head of its education and social
affairs department. "Women have the power and the gift to resolve conflicts

The audience

<strong>END IT NOW: </strong>Conference participants staging a flash mob against violence toward women. Photo: Eli Diez/EUD

Bläse encouraged all conference
participants to get involved in their home countries "because only with
peace can we achieve anything, and we need you as women."

Conference organizer Denise
Hochstrasser also underscored the need for women to play an active role in
their communities. Hochstrasser knows first hand: After studying business at
Newbold College in preparation to become a pastor’s wife, she ended up devoting
more than 25 years to Adventist women’s needs after the early death of her

"Men and women
need each other," said Hochstrasser, a Swiss native who heads the Women’s
Ministries department for the Inter-European Division. But for the conference,
Hochstrasser said, the "chivalrous" men in attendance should step
aside and participate as companions and assistants. About 40 of the 800 attendees
were men.

Some of the workshops
were conducted by men, such as “Violence and the Church” by Andreas Bochmann,
head of the master’s in counseling program at Friedensau Adventist University.
But most presentations came from women, including “Hope Against Depression” by
Heather-Dawn Small, director of Women’s Ministries for the Adventist world
church, and “Growing Strong Disciples of Jesus,” by Elsa Cozzi, a
fourth-generation Adventist and missionary daughter who heads Children’s
Ministries at the Inter-European Division.

Participants staged a
flash mob on Sunday to draw attention to End It Now, a church initiative to
counter violence and abuse against women and girls.

A charity concert on
Sunday evening raised money for victims of female genital mutilation in Kenya.

Dr. Cornelia Strunz, who works at Desert Flower Center at the Waldfriede Hospital in Berlin, spoke about the center's work to perform recovery
operations for victims of female genital mutilation.

Related links

Division, Sept. 8: “EUD Women's Congress - 700 Women Bring Back Summer to Schwäbisch Gmünd”

Inter-European Division,
Sept. 5: “Women in Action” - European Women's Congress in Germany”

Inter-European Division Women’s Congress Web site