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650 Attend Allegheny East’s Women’s Retreat
Story by Phyllis P. Edmonds
Minnie McNeil, the Allegheny East Conference Women’s Ministries director, prayed that God would send women to the conference’s biennial retreat who desired a “well experience” and a closer walk with God. In response to her prayer, God sent so many women that additional provisions and hotels were needed to handle the unexpected numbers. The women came by car, bus, plane and ferry from the north, south, east and west. Not only did women come from the states in the Allegheny East Conference territory, they also came from other conferences—some even came from as far away as Georgia, North Carolina, Kentucky, Michigan and Indiana.
The theme for the weekend was “Women At The Well: Drinking From The Well of blessing.” Some 650 women came to this Spirit-filled weekend at the Founders Inn in Virginia Beach, Va., which also included special programs for teenage girls, led by Dolores Allen of the Bladensburg (Md.) church.
The women started the weekend by ministering to shelter residents in the local Tidewater area. They rolled up their sleeves and helped to organize closets and reminded the shelter residents of the marvelous healing and saving love of Christ. A second group attending the retreat used their melodious voices to speak and sing messages of praise and hope when they visited a local nursing home.
Each area Women’s Ministries leader was responsible for a segment of the weekend’s programming. The Virginia Area started the weekend worship with a skit titled “Extra Baggage” depicting women’s “well experiences” in life. Gina Brown, PhD, a member of the Dupont Park church in Washington, D.C., followed with a powerful motivational message.
On Sabbath and Sunday mornings, the women started their day with morning spiritual and physical exercise led by Faye Gregory from the Newtonville (N.J.) church. Brenda Chavis from the Voice of Truth Church in Newark, Del., and Helen Peace from Mullica Hill, N.J., shared morning manna while the women from the Bay Area led the worship on Sabbath morning and the ladies of South Jersey Area led the worship on Sunday morning.
The Baltimore Area Women’s Ministries provided midmorning Sabbath inspiration and motivation for Christian service by presenting the video; “Christ Method Alone.” This video was a reminder of the best way to reach hearts for Jesus is to use the method he used to win people for His kingdom. The divine worship hour included praise team music and the soul searching preaching of Paula Olivier, pastor of the First church of Montclair, N.J. Her message of hope and reassurance inspired the women to be led by the Holy Spirit in their “well experiences” and resulted in many women rededicating their lives and making commitments for baptism.
Sabbath afternoon was devoted to breakout groups where seminar presenters facilitated several discussions that included; “Power to Serve,” “Physiology of Submission,” “Its Not You, Its Me—Reasons for Breakups,” and for women wanting to reinvigorate their marriages, “From Simmer to Sizzle.” To conclude the seminars, the presenters convened a panel where they responded to questions from their various presentations.
Saturday night recreation consisted of a fashion show presented by the Pennsylvania Area women. In addition, there were video entertainment, zumba instruction and swimming. Fellowship was seen throughout the weekend with old friends reuniting and new friendships being formed. Prayer was a main focus of the weekend with prayer groups bursting forth throughout the hotel. The opportunity for private prayer was available in the “Prayer Room.”
The final worship experience on Sunday morning culminated the weekend with a mountain top experience as women were reminded and motivated to learn of Him who met the woman at the well. Donnette Blake, a pastor at the Kingsboro church (N.Y.) prepared the women to descend from the “well experience” of the weekend knowing that nothing is too hard for God to handle in their lives.
The women also collected $3,700 to benefit the Women’s Center on the Campus of Valley View University in Accra, Ghana.