A “woman-to-woman” missions organization founded three-and-a-half years ago is looking for a new staff, following the resignations of a coordinator and assistant coordinator May 1.

Suzanah Raffield, founding coordinator of Global Women, resigned to pursue advanced studies in missions and theology, according to a press release. Lori Burgess, assistant coordinator since last June, also stepped down, saying “God is leading me into other places of service.”

Both resignations, accepted at a Global Women board meeting May 1, were effective immediately. Directors committed to keep ministries going, with the office in Birmingham, Ala., as operations base, and announced a search for new staff leadership.

“It is not surprising that young leaders will make changes to gain varied experiences,” said Dorothy Sample, president of the Global Women Board. “We wish Suzanah and Lori God’s special blessings as they devote their great gifts to God’s service in new ways.”

Global Women was launched Dec. 6, 2001. Founders decided to go with a free-standing group based on research indicating both a decline in mission opportunities for women and an increase in women’s suffering around the world.

Incorporators included three past executive directors, a former national president and another former high-level executive of Woman’s Missionary Union, auxiliary to the Southern Baptist Convention.

Today Global Women has grown into a network of 2,500 women and men, according to a fall 2004 newsletter. They participate in mission projects, focus on global issues affecting women and on other activities aimed at befriending women around the world.

The group has endorsed several women as “global associates,” who minister internationally. It is also building a network of international workers to serve in or near their own cultures as ministers among women.

It has launched programs to address issues including maternal and infant mortality, AIDS/HIV prevention, leadership training of Christian women and girls and affirmation of women in ministry.

Last August Global Women was co-sponsor of a weeklong International Consultation to Women in Prostitution at Green Lake Conference Center in Green Lake, Wis.

Projects include providing birthing kits for women without access to medical help and sanitary supplies, economic development for refugees in Thailand, missionary training, publishing, mentoring women considering calls to global service and encouraging women who are studying theology.

Global Women also partners with other organizations, including the Global Missions division of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

Raffield, an ordained minister and master-of-divinity graduate of Beeson Divinity School, was the group’s first employee. A native of Florida and graduate of Samford University, she was an original founder of Global Women in December 2001 and a month later became its first employee as coordinator.

“As our first staff member, Suzanah has provided innovation and connection to the rising generation of mission leaders,” Sample said. “She will always be remembered for handling a historic role well.”

Burgess was also a member of the founding board of directors and held the office of assistant secretary. She joined the staff as associate coordinator last June after graduating from Mercer University’s McAfee School of Theology in Atlanta. She is from Cornelia, Ga., and a graduate of Union University. She is recently married and has worked from a satellite office in Atlanta.

Burgess pioneered the “Go Forum,” a mission retreat for young women called to global missions, in February. Hundreds of women students exploring careers in missions and ministry have attended FREEDOM! Conferences, an interactive mission conference developed by Raffield.

Raffield and Burgess did not respond to requests for comment.

According to its Web site, Global Women exists “to create worldwide friendships among women for shared learning and service.”

A purpose statement says the organization works to “enlarge understanding of what Christ means for women around the world” and “to take Christian ministry and witness to women, especially those limited in access to Jesus, while supporting and encouraging women who have received a call of God to minister throughout our world.”

“Women need a specialized ministry that only women can give,” says the Global Women Web site. “Individuals and churches need to be educated about issues women face globally. Christian women need affirmation to answer God’s call.”

Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.

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