"Women in the Heart of God: Refocus, Refresh, Relate"

Epworth-by-the-Sea
October 7-9

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DSCF0094.JPGWomen’s Retreat 2005 lived up to its publicity. Despite the “late-in-the-game” change of location from Norman Park to Epworth-by-the-Sea, we had 140 enthusiastic participants. Most arrived a little wet or tired, having traveled in the torrential rain; but we were quickly revived by the lively music of Ann Haines and the inspiring message of our keynoter, Petie McLean. Fortunately, the rain stayed away for the rest of the weekend; we did keep the 100% humidity, however! Still, folks were glad to be together in retreat and thankful for the coordinating efforts of the commission and staff.

DSCF0086.JPGPetie McLean, our keynote speaker, brought a message which stretched and challenged the hearers. It was comforting to be reminded that we are in God’s heart and nothing can separate us from God’s love. We were given spiritual tools for remembering that we are in God’s heart: 1. Practice hospitality: Tell others that they are in God’s heart. 2. Pray: Listen for God’s prayer; explore your place in God’s heart. 3. Study the scriptures. 4. Live the Sabbath. 5. Be grateful. We were challenged to go where we know we can find God – with the marginalized of society. In small groups on Saturday morning, we had an opportunity to discuss Petie’s first two keynotes and share personal stories and encouragement with one another.

Gratitude for God’s many blessings was expressed through offerings into Blessing Boxes placed around the Nalls Auditorium area as well as through offerings from churches brought to “The Celebration of Blessing” on Saturday afternoon. To date, nearly $8,000 has been given. Women’s groups who have not sent their blessing box offerings into the regional office are encouraged to do as soon as possible!

We were blessed to have Dr. Ray Miles with us at retreat. He lifted up blessings of the region in our Saturday afternoon session. New commission members were elected and installed, current members were recognized, and DSCF0075.JPGdeparting members were thanked for their dedicated service to the women of Georgia. Rev. Wendy Miles did a beautiful service of recognition and installation for commission members. Ana Guardiola of Community Christian in Fayetteville is the new Study Coordinator, Valerie Alexander of Decatur First Christian is Service and Life Concerns Coordinator, and Cecelia Glosson of Waycross First Christian is Worship Coordinator. Frances Shumake takes on the position of Northeast District Coordinator, having served as Study Director for the past two years. Pat Brannen of Glennville First and Darlene Reynolds of Barney Welcome-Hope will serve an additional term as Southeast and Southwest District Coordinators. Continuing members of the Commission are Ann Haines as President (Watkinsville Antioch), Dottie Gill as Secretary (Chattahoochee Christian), Sue Baker as Northwest District Coordinator (Atlanta First), Jacque Bloom as West Central District Coordinator (Columbus Central), and Lavonda Shadix as East Central District Coordinator (Eastman First). Barbara Powell (Decatur First) and Cathy Moorehead (Watkinsville First) leave their positions as Service/Life Concerns Coordinator and Worship Coordinator. We thank all these creative and capable women!

The healing service on Saturday afternoon was once again a retreat highlight. Care teams of clergy and laywomen received the prayer concerns of women gathered and created a circle of care, healing, and love. Thank you to Revs. Linda Whitmire, Carol Mallon, Kathy McDowell, Erin Iobst, and Katie Hayes and their able team of helpers for providing leadership.

DSCF0081.JPGDelores James, Woman-to-Woman representative to Kenya in 2004, delighted the gathering with her stories on Saturday evening. She left us wanting to hear more about her travels and encouraged churches and districts to invite her to speak.

The boutique composed of items made by women of our churches raised over $1400 to be divided between Week of Compassion and the Narok Conservation Project in Kenya (a well-digging project!). The women also collected love gifts and offerings of over $2000 to support women’s ministry in the region and other work of the Christian Church in Georgia.

A fun accent to the weekend was provided by Dottie Gill and her “Dream Team” encouraging one and all to attend the Mix in ’06. (www.dreamonsisters.com). They caught our attention through skits spread throughout the weekend. The enthusiasm was contagious!

Once again, the women of the Christian Church in Georgia were drawn closer to each other and to God through time set aside for retreat. See you next year for the 53rd Annual Georgia Christian Women’s Retreat, October 13th-15th!

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