Sister to Sister women's conference set for April 16

By Lynn R. Parks

After going with her sister-in-law to a women's conference at a church in Kentucky, Melissa Wills knew that she wanted to help organize something like it in her own church.
'How often do you get the chance to worship and share something special with your sisters?' asked Wills, of Seaford. 'There really was a different feel there, a more relaxed atmosphere that allowed people to share what they feel.' The Hiseville Christian Church in Cave City, Ken., holds a women's conference every couple of years, Wills said. Her church, St. John's United Methodist Church in Seaford, will hold the first of what organizers hope will be an annual event next month.
Sister to Sister Gathering will be Saturday, April 16, at St. John's. The theme will be 'The Imperfect Women in Jesus' Family Tree Who Inspire Us To Do God's Perfect Work.' This is the same theme that the Hiseville conference had.
'We are not saying that admitting that you're imperfect allows you not to try to be better,' said St. John's associate minister Barbara Wilson, who will serve as a kind of master of ceremonies for the event. 'But we understand that we are not perfect people. And God works with imperfect people so we can serve his perfect will.' Featured speaker will be the Rev. Kari Jones, minister at Connection Community Church in Middletown. Jones was living with her family in Seaford and attending St. John's when she and her husband, Alan, became Methodist ministers. He also is a minister at Connection Community.
In addition to Wills, St. John's members who are serving on the conference planning committee are Norma Dukes, Gail Phillips and Mary Catherine Hopkins. They agree that Kari Jones is a good choice for conference speaker. 'People won't want to be preached at,'Wills said. 'People around here know Kari's style and they know that they will enjoy what she has to say.'
Music will be provided by harpist, pianist and singer Joy Slavens, Laurel. In addition to leading participants in song, Slavens will perform solos.

Lunch will be catered by Marilyn Hastings, Seaford. 'We really want the women to open up and share at the lunch table,' Hopkins said.
The conference is open to all women, regardless of denomination and regardless of whether they go to church at all. 'Women shouldn't have to live in a vacuum just because they are working,' Phillips said.
'They need to take time out to care for themselves,' Wills agreed. 'That's something that a lot of women don't do.' Members of the committee have several hopes for the results of Sister to Sister. Hopkins said that just planning it has taught her a lot about the church. 'If this is going to help me be a better person just through planning it, I hope for more for the participants,' she said.
'I've wanted to do something like this for a long time,' Phillips said. 'I want the women to begin seeing themselves as no longer separating from their spouses or significant others. Hopefully this will make them draw even closer.' Dukes said that the conference will offer a simple message to the women: 'that they are accepted and loved by God.' Wills hopes that the conference encourages new relationships. 'We come to church every Sunday and see the same people we always see,' she said. 'With this, we will be seeing different people and maybe we can build from this to serve the community.'
She also hopes that the conference works the other way, helping people on an individual level. 'If there is one woman who this helps, it will have been worth all the effort that we've put in.'

For your information
Sister to Sister will be Saturday, April 16, at St. John's United Methodist Church, Seaford. Check-in starts at 9:30 a.m. and the service will be from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Lunch will follow. All women are welcome. Cost is $8.
Registration is due April 4. For details, call St. John's, 629-9466.

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