Special Project … Spring 2020

by Debbie Kelsey


It is an inviting word.  It appeared in ABWM’s National Executive Director Rev. Gina C. Jacobs-Strain’s email this week. It is a word used by our state’s leader, Governor Cuomo, in his update this week.  It is what the risen Christ encouraged his disciples on NY Pause (Not-Yet Pause) to do as he appeared to them after the resurrection. 

The eleven whose names we know best didn’t have the PPE they needed – that Prayerful Powerful Energy — to come out of hiding and live life where they would literally be the hands and feet of the risen Christ.  Some, like Mary Magdelene and the two who took a walk to Emmaus, became more essential to the story as they encountered Christ outside the intimate circle of the eleven.


My dear ABWM sisters, for years now, I am convicted that we have “reimagined” the same-old, same-old.

Has Christ through his resurrection not set us free from maintaining shells of what has been?  I do not hold to the theory that COVID-19 is God’s judgment on anyone. 

But, is this crisis not an opportunity (or, for the more cynical, an excuse) to cast off the shells of what was in so many ways? 


What is vital to the image of God we are called to bear as the body of Christ?  And, what is old and worn out and, truly, just an empty shell?

woman looking thoughtfully out a window

My Experience

Back “in the day” when I visited churches as an IM missionary, women asked me over and over again, “What can we do to get younger women in our ABWM?”  I would answer out of my experience of entry into ABWM life as a young mother in another state, who probably wouldn’t have used my energy to go to a 2nd meeting if my husband hadn’t been the church’s pastor.  Their fellowship was great, but their structure was to me as a newcomer a heavy, hollow shell. 

I would like to repeat these ideas for reimagining in our local groups:

1. Use language people understand.

People want to make a difference in this world. Invite people to “Donate for Drug- Abuse Prevention.” Ask some young woman or young man in your church to put up a GoFundMe opportunity on Facebook.  Send a message with more information about Community Ministries in Niagara Falls to everyone who gives. Then invite them to whatever else ABWM is doing. 

(Note:  All that was done without using those words that mean nothing to a person who hasn’t been in ABWM a while–I won’t even spell them out to get my point across:  our S.P.)

written words 'Be creative' with a handdrawn lightbulb

2. Stop inviting and then ask for lots of $$$$

Ironically, the 2nd part of my reimagining suggestion would be:  Stop inviting people to a gathering and then asking for 3 or 4 different offerings! 

As ABWM Board members in NY State, we are keenly aware of the incredible generosity of women in our churches.  It is wonderful to see how, time and time again, women rise to the challenge.  It is not in our DNA to turn away an offering plate! 

On the other hand, we know that funds are short on the National level (Notice that the National Reset and Reimagine Program is a funding initiative), in our Regions, and in our local churches.  That was true before we ever heard of COVID-19, and based on our experience in the church I serve, that’s going to be true when March and April financial reports are available.  So, let’s be sensitive to people’s realities and caring in how often and how we “do the ask” in this season.

All the ministries we support are important, but be sure your local church is able to carry forward its ministries with God’s imagination in mind!  (Spoken like the pastor I am!)

2019-2020 Project Update

Finally, thank you to everyone who gave to help the “Not on my Watch” work in 2019-20!  As of April 30, the total we raised was $5189.65 for this project to help survivors of human trafficking and domestic violence.

May God bless you as we reimagine together how God will use us in God’s service!

Debbie, Special Project Chair

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