(Greensboro, NC – DNS) – The spirits of Disciples women were renewed, refreshed, and ‘awakened’ during the 2010 Quadrennial Assembly (QA) held June 23-27 in Greensboro, N.C.
Nearly 2000 women from the United States and Canada joined with several of their international sisters to celebrate God’s presence among them. Worship, Bible study, community projects, workshops and fellowship were just some of the activities that engaged women during the nearly five-day event. The conference theme, "Awake! Awake!" (taken from Judges 5:12a) was woven into planning in ways that helped illustrate how women can carry out effective and meaningful ministry.
"Quadrennial has always enriched my spirit and allowed me to go home a better mother and person," commented Betty Manlove, a member of Southport Christian Church in Indianapolis, Ind. "I get inspiration and meet people and find new ways to appreciate what God has given me."
The Quadrennial participant’s creativity and commitment to ministry was evident throughout the assembly. Disciples women (and a few men) repaired houses for senior citizens in Greensboro as part of a pre-event. Others took advantage of workshops as well as participated in morning Bible study sessions led by Sharyn Dowd, a scholar and author from Decatur, Ga. Many spent time with their international sisters visiting from such places as Columbia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Philippines, Venezuela and Turkey, as well as made friends with Disciples women from other parts of the country. Women also learned more about global concerns, such as human trafficking which affects 600,000 to 800,000 people a year, and ways to address such global concerns.
One unique special event at QA, was "Bras for a Cause," which raised awareness about women’s health issues. About 130 women brought or mailed in colorfully decorated bras -actually works of art – as a fun way to highlight the issue of breast cancer. Attendees voted on their favorite bra for $1 per vote, resulting in over $4000 raised for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. A health fair and blood drive also took place during QA, as well as a ‘bizarre bazaar,’ where handicrafts and church cookbooks were sold.
But, at its core, Quadrennial was about women seeking to serve God in fulfilling, uplifting ways. Evening worship speakers gave attendee insights for that journey. Opening night speaker Vashti McKenzie, bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, encouraged women to be bridge builders instead of barrier makers. "Build a bridge to those who are hurting, orphaned, or hungry," she said. "We must come from behind our pews and our pulpits to take Jesus to the people."
Joanne Kagiwada, a Disciples lawyer who has led Disciples work in international affairs, spoke on the second night of QA, emphasizing that women must be bold in dreaming of the future. "We may not get it right the first time. But we should look for the sources of our wisdom, learn from our heritage and always remember we are God’s people," said Kagiwada.
Evelyn Nieves, who founded Christian Family Church in Bronx, N.Y., along with her husband, Moises, was the Friday night, June 25, speaker. Nieves called on women to be active agents in all that they do, whether it is doing justice, healing or visiting the less fortunate. "We need to take a stand and declare in what we believe."
Amy Gopp, executive director of Week of Compassion, spoke on Saturday night and reminded attendees that they are part of a global sisterhood of women seeking to carry the good news of Jesus Christ around the world. Gopp related inspiring stories of women who have been beaten, raped or imprisoned in places such as the Congo, India and Peru, but who, despite the adversities and challenges, have moved beyond their personal circumstances to discover hope and possibility. She exhorted Disciples women to take the dance of mission to the world. "Disciples of Christ women, you are ready to bring good news to the poor and from the poor," she said. Gopp also announced the establishment of a Women’s Empowerment Fund that through Week of Compassion will educate, train and empower women around the world.
General Minister and President Sharon Watkins delivered the closing sermon on Sunday morning, June 27, stressing to women that they are already awake, but have some things to do while they are alert. Watkins called on attendees to awaken their ‘little part of the world…to baptize, teach and make Disciples in surprising ways and surprising places. "After 4- and a half days, it’s time to awaken the world, and to get out there and make a difference," she said. Watkins used the example of First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Oaktown, Ind., which with only 65 members, provides a food pantry, English language programs, school supplies for children in need, a health clinic, and a LOGOS Bible study program.
Adele Station, a member of First Christian Church of Reidsville, N.C. stated that she felt her first QA fulfilled her expectations.
"I think this has been an awesome way to meet all my sisters in God’s family from around the world," said Station. "I firmly believe God puts you where he wants you to be. Quadrennial has been where I should be this week."
By: Wanda Bryant Wills [email protected]
To read an article about Bras for the Cause, published in the Greensboro, N.C. newspaper, go to: http://snipr.com/yfipj