Love, Hope, Family, Faith, Friends, Believe, Live, Dream... These were the words decorating the tables, that welcomed the ladies as they entered the grand ballroom. Before the words could even permeate, all over the room, friends hugged and chatted, laughter could be heard throughout and anticipation of what God was going to do hung gently in the atmosphere.
Jennifer Robinson, a CCC member and self proclaimed “choir’s cheerleader” couldn’t contain her excitement. She said, “Every event I attend, whether it be a meeting or retreat is excellent and high caliber. When your expectations are met, you always know what you are getting.”
The praise and worship team began to pray asking God to draw us closer to Him and to each other, to be able to lift each other up in prayer and in support of one another. The women were led into worship singing “I am a friend of God.” A chorus of voices sang, “You are the Risen King; seated in majesty.” As the women lifted their voices in unison, the Holy Spirit came down and settled upon the room.
Moving at the unction of the Holy Spirit, Pastor Jamaal Bernard had the women sing the song again telling them to, “send thunder up to heaven.” At his direction, the women gathered into groups and prayed one for another. When the prayers ended, Pastor Jamaal said that we would “stand in expectation of the requests that were uttered to the Lord.” He lifted up the Women’s Ministry that would be ordained by God and “a womanhood that could stand on God’s word that says we are above and not beneath.” He prayed that we would be women with “heads held high, a sense of quality and security; that God would remove any hindrance so He could use us. That God’s will would be done in everything we have, everything we are, the good, bad and the ugly.”
Danielle Parchment, a CCC member who was excited to attend said, “I like to see the possibilities. You could be that light for someone.” She continued, “Women are so caught up, they forget to love one another. We need to pull each other’s arms and pull them along. That’s very important!”
Women from churches around the city and in other parts of the country stood up and introduced themselves and Rita Bernard was in awe over the number of women who attended. Over 500 listened as she laid out the plan for the Women’s Ministry in the coming months and then received instructions for the day’s tasks; creating Vision Boards. We were told to have our sisters help us, be comfortable and have achievable goals; move forward at a pace comfortable to us.
“A vision board is like a bucket list,” said Traci Caine, a ministry participant. She said, “I just told my husband last night that I wanted to create a vision board and I was so excited to find out that’s what we were doing.” Traci came with her longtime childhood friend Teishia Phillips-Unthank, a CCC member. Teishia said, “I’m just happy to be here with like minded women.”
After the ladies had received their instructions they dove into the task of creating their visions for a successful 2016. It was quiet and all you heard was the sound of scissors cutting, magazines rustling and Gospel music humming in the background. As we passed around magazines and asked one another to search for specific pictures as we thumbed through, the women began to open up to one another. “Do you ladies ever feel as though you share so much that you don’t have time for yourself?, asked one of the participants. The whole table responded not just with a chorus of “Yes” but with solutions to help. This was sisterhood and friendship in action.
Pastor Karen Bernard, the event host, spoke to the ladies and gave a testimony about her early Christian walk. As she talked about the importance of calling out the “Blood of Jesus,” a participant at the table whispered, that she had a similar testimony and began to weep. Another participant asked for prayers for her niece who was visiting from another church. Both ladies were comforted and prayed for as the sisterhood and love continued to blossom. As Pastor Karen, who was also celebrating a birthday, gave her testimony, she passed on sound wisdom to the ladies. She said that we serve a God who compensates, He can turn things around and He gives. She told us that she is constantly working on herself and her attitude. She said that she makes sure her face is not offensive and makes sure that her daughter-in laws and grandchildren know that she is available to them. What awesome advice to give to women as they created such transformative goals for 2016.
Stephie Calixte attended the event with her aunt, Manite Noel. Stephie comes to CCC on Sundays with a friend and enjoys the worship and message. She said, “I feel spiritually fed when I leave. I still have a lot to learn but I want to stay on a spiritual path.” She enjoyed this event saying, “It’s not so easy to create your vision,” she said seriously. But then she chuckled saying, “I want to fit in so much!”
Danielle Parchment agreed, “All of the ministries at CCC build upon the themes that Pastor Bernard speaks about and gives me some structure.” She continued, “This is an important event to have for women so we can come and talk to one another.” Indeed, we have more in common than we have apart. Love, friendship, hope, dreams, faith.