Adventist Women Impacting their Church and Communities

Adventist Women Impacting their Church and Communities

Sharon Platt-McDonald BUC Director for Women's Ministries, Health & Adventist Community Services

The BUC Women's Ministries department continues its series on spotlighting influential women.

Elisabeth Sangüesa is a woman who is making a positive impact nationally and internationally. I caught up with her recently for an interview:

SPM – Elisabeth, please give us a brief overview of your life and current role.

ES – I am originally from Spain and am a third-generation pastor's kid. I am the only girl of 4 siblings, and I have been working in publishing for 37 years, 30 of which have been for the Church. First, I worked in Spain as a designer, production coordinator, and marketing director, and 14 years ago, I came to the Stanborough Press, where I started doing international sales. Seven years ago, I was asked to be the General Manager.

SPM You are the first female manager of the Stanborough Press. A significant milestone since the establishment of the Press in 1894. Please share with our readers what it's like to be the Press Manager and give us an insight into what an average day and week looks like in your role.

ES – It is a big responsibility and a privilege to carry the mantel after 140 years of existence. Reading manuscripts, travelling to visit customers abroad, preaching appointments in the UK, training lay evangelists, chasing payments from churches and other institutions, deciding what titles need to be published, meetings with administrators and directors at all levels, ensuring policy is followed, are just a few of the tasks that managing a publishing house requires. I do not get bored!

SPMDuring the Covid-19 pandemic, you held the reins and had to take on an additional role as you steered the Press successfully through those tough and uncertain times. Please share with our readers what that was like and the lessons learned.

ES – I will not lie; it was tough having to find salaries for 22 staff members while all churches were closed, as we depend only on our sales. However, the Lord blessed us, and we could continue serving thanks to the website (, launched just one week before the lockdown, and the faithfulness of the members. We had to be creative and really look at our core business/services. I thank God for the tremendous team we have at the Press.

SPM – You have supported several female writers and published their books at the Press. Please tell us about that.

ES – Women play a vital role for the Press, both as readers and authors and even as part of the management team. It was a pleasure to impulse the writing paths of Susan Kirlew, René Richards or Marylene Akakpo, for example, and to give further visibility to established writers like yourself, Anne Pilmoor, Karen Holford and Brenda Walsh, among others.

SPMI remember attending Press Open Day in 2019 when your team hosted a platform spotlighting UK female authors and arranging a panel discussion for them to talk about their 'writers' journey'. What instigated this decision, and what feedback did you receive from this event? 

ES – It was a fantastic experience that many enjoyed. It came about because we realised that more and more women were keen to share their stories and did not know how to go about it. We have a lot of talent in the UK and are happy to support and promote new authors…even if they do not publish with us.

SPMThere has been much debate around Christian women in leadership positions, especially concerning ministry. What are some of your observations and convictions about this?

ES – I firmly believe God has given different gifts to all. Having diverse opinions, world views, leadership styles, and a wider range of experiences can only enrich our ministry, churches and institutions. Many boards, executive committees, etc., would benefit from having more female presence.

SPM What would you say to females in any leadership role who are currently facing challenges precisely because of their gender?

ES – Every role comes with challenges of its own, and it is true that we, as female leaders, must navigate several extra hurdles. We live in an imperfect and sometimes unfair world. Men and women usually have different leadership styles, and, as my father advised me, it is best not to concentrate on comparisons with others but on doing your best and playing to your strengths. As women in leadership, we can make a difference, and I suggest we put our efforts into working on that.

SPM – With the call to be more relevant in our evangelistic outreach to the community, how is the Press adapting to sharing Christ in an increasingly secular world?

ES – We continue to produce health and general books, e-books, audiobooks aimed at the general public, and our children's books, which are highly appreciated by the wider Christian audience. Our FOCUS magazine has been updated, and a younger set of authors are contributing to reaching the communities around us. Also, we are preparing books with more current topics like 'God cares for you too, single mum' or 'Seeking God's Face' for busy men.

SPMServing as Press Manager for the past seven years; what are some of the highlights, and how have they shaped the trajectory of this establishment?

ES – We are working through a generational change, which always brings interesting challenges and opportunities. Introducing our online bookshop LifeSource for the UK and Europe and the Autumn House website for the Christian general trade is opening up new possibilities. We are also concentrating on finding literature ambassadors in our churches to encourage our members' nurture and outreach, as well as opening local outlets. Collaboration with other international publishing houses allows us to have a wider variety of titles and authors and expands our distribution channels.

 SPMWhat is your vision for the Press, and how would you like to see the ministry and impact of your publications going forward?

ES – To be the leading resource provider to all UK and European churches for nurturing and sharing materials. Literature distribution is the perfect tool for Total Member Involvement in ministry.

SPM Thank you, Elisabeth. May the Press continue to thrive under your able leadership. We pray for your work and team as you share Christ through this impactful ministry.