By Carron Odokara
The Wesleyan Holiness Women Clergy (WHWC) organization held its biennial conference in April at the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park, Colorado. Amid the beauty of the Rocky Mountains, over 300 women and men gathered to worship, learn, and be revived. The conference welcomed the Church of God (Anderson), Brethren in Christ, the Free Methodist Church, the Church of the Nazarene, the Wesleyan Church, and other groups. These faith groups came together under the banner of Jesus Christ to celebrate the biblical foundations of gender equality being fully lived out across the church as women and men lead together, following their holy callings.
The Church of God was well represented, with twenty-nine people attending from all around the country. The Church of God also had a significant presence in the conference program. Alanna Story led worship throughout the conference. Well-known Church of God pastor Cheryl Sanders preached the Saturday evening service. Anderson University’s Kimberly Majeski and Annie Wood Bell facilitated workshops. Children of Promise’s Courtney Rice presented as part of the preaching panel workshop. Rachel Bird and Deidra Johnson participated in the evening worship times with scripture readings. Carron Odokara led a fireside chat discussion topic. Julie Wiseman is part of the WHWC Mentoring Team that taught a session and conducted a speed mentoring event, and the mentoring team is looking at ideas to continue connecting people between conferences. As a group, many of the Church of God attendees also joined a late-night chat after evening worship with Jim Lyon, general director of Church of God Ministries. It was a great, informal time of talking with, and hearing from, one another.
A few of the conference attendees commented on their experience.
• “There was good energy and the presence of the Lord was evident in all the sessions and the worship.” —Shelly Short
• “Revive was good for my soul.” —Randee Doe
• “It was wonderful to serve with women from other denominations; to know that their ‘tribes’ are moving in a direction that is similar to ours,” —Julie Wiseman
Melissa Pratt summed up the experience this way: “The WHWC conference is a time of encouragement, inspiration, and networking that will refresh you in your calling and give you ministry focus for the future. You will meet people who will inform your calling and become resources when you need prayer, a listening ear, or advice in your local context. Being a woman in ministry can be a lonely experience, but through WHWC you will discover you are far from alone as female clergy person. It is worth the investment of time and finances to get there. See you in 2020!”
Thanks to Jim Lyon for continuing the Church of God support for women clergy and the work of the WHWC. Additional thanks to MaryAnn Hawkins, AU School of Theology and Christian Ministry dean, for making a way to bring a van full of seminary students to join in the experience.
The WHWC board and planning committee are beginning to plan next steps and the 2020 conference, as well as looking at ways to connect and resource clergy women and men. The Church of God is represented on the WHWC board by Carron Odokara, and on the WHWC planning committee by Deidra Johnson. Start planning now to attend the next WHWC conference early in 2020. We will communicate the dates and location as soon as we have them.
Learn more at www.whwomenclergy.org.