Jane Harris was elected to serve as the next Lake Union Women's Ministries leader. She will assume her responsibilities on Jan. 1, 2023.
Harris will continue in her role the Michigan Conference Women’s Ministries director, a position she has held since 2010. She replaces Barbara Livesay who retired from the Lake Union in 2017.
“It was actually quite amazing when I received that phone call from [Lake Union President] Ken Denslow,” said Harris. “I had been praying the week before asking God if he had something else for me to do. Perhaps another area of mission? And then, I received the call. I still wanted to pray, and be in God‘s presence to be sure. I said ‘Yes!’ without any doubt.”
Denslow said that Harris, who’ll assume her responsibilities on Jan. 1, 2023, has been a blessing for some time to the Michigan Conference. “Now she will be able, in addition, to support the entire Lake Union Women’s Ministries program.”
We wanted you to know more about Jane, her ministry journey, biggest influences, and of course, future plans. Here’s the interview which was edited for clarity and brevity.
Q: Tell us a little about you and your family.
A: I married my high school sweetheart [Michigan Associate Youth Director Craig Harris]! We graduated Grand Ledge Academy in 1980 and have been married for 39 years! We have raised two beautiful daughters, who are married to two great guys, and we have two super cute grandchildren.
Q: Who are your role models?
A: My mother. She fought through many struggles her whole life, but she knew that her source of strength came through Jesus! She taught me several Bible promises she relied on daily. I am longing to see her again in heaven.
As for decorating, Joanna Gaines is my go-to interior designer!
Q: How did you become interested in Women’s Ministries?
A: I began serving on the Michigan Women’s ministries board in the 1990s. As each year progressed, this ministry became a part of my heart and soul. I love collaborating and having a team of like-minded women to work with.
Q: Why is this role so important?
A: Women make up a large percentage of each church family community. [eAdventist database indicates 48,855 Lake Union members are female—55% of the total membership.] Their role is very important in all of our churches throughout our Lake Union. Women mentoring women. It isn’t a matter of should we disciple or mentor, but how do we disciple or mentor.
Women’s Ministries isn’t just a stand-alone ministry. It’s anything that women can do to nurture and encourage others in the church or outside of it. It’s an arm of the church that intentionally provides Biblically sound encouragement and spiritually driven growth opportunities for all women that can also trickle down to all members of the church.
Q: Tell us about some of the events and programs you’ve done over the years.
A: We usually do a specific themed event to capture a full weekend of spiritual oneness with Christ in a fun-loving way. This includes our annual mom and daughter weekend, packed with happy moms and joyful daughters having a grand time together, praying together and playing together. We also have an annual “One Day Getaway.” We find a beautiful venue for women to spend a full Sabbath day together with a guest speaker, guest musicians, and a buffet set for a queen!
In the winter we have our ZOOM winter book club, known as the “Page Turners.” This year we are studying one of my favorite books, “Steps to Christ.”
We also connect with the community of Grayling, Michigan where Camp Au Sable is located. We like to help the camp stay connected with the homeless shelters, local food banks, women’s shelters, and the local public school district.
Q: What are your aspirations for the Lake Union?
A: I would love at least 80% of all churches in the Lake Union to have an active Women’s Ministries program. It doesn’t have to be a big and busy program to make a big impact!
I like knowing that women are getting a biblical shot of encouragement and feel that they are being thought of and cared for by the women in their local church family. I would also like to see each church board recognize the impact of Women’s Ministries and give them a budget each year.
I would also love to see pastors’ wives, women elders, shepherdesses, Sabbath School superintendents, etc., all come together with their talents -- because when coming together the duties can be shared and be less of a burden on individual departments.
Another idea is mentoring and discipleship. Wouldn’t it be wonderful for women to start a mentoring ministry that could benefit their own church community?
Q: You’ve served women in one capacity or another over the last thirty years. What have been some of your greatest rewards in this ministry?
A: The rewards are many! Seeing women arrive at an event, who are overwhelmed and need a break is one highlight. We love to pamper them and give them a restful weekend. Then, to see those faces turn to smiles of joy is a gift.
I like to see leaders be successful. In some of our small churches, it may be just two or three who are gathered. My reward is seeing women become stronger through Jesus, more confident and successful in their lives.
Debbie Michel serves as the Lake Union Conference Communication director and Lake Union Herald editor.