State conventions, entities collaborate to equip women in ministry

Dec 23, 2020

Susie Hawkins speaks from Ephesians 4:1-16 during the main session of the One Day. One Focus Conference.

By Rebecca Manry

The OneDay.OneFocus Conference, held online Oct. 29, sought to equip and encourage all women in ministry.

The conference came out of a desire for state convention women’s ministry leaders, including Simone Lake in Arizona, to share knowledge and resources to continue the work of training women. Lake taught a session on fasting and prayer for the event.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as each state was facing reduced budgets and decisions about whether to cancel events or move them online, the leaders decided to come together to put on an online training event, said Carmen Halsey, a leadership development director at the Illinois Baptist State Association.

“We knew our responsibility is to train women. We can’t not do our jobs,” she said.

The result was content with wide application that could be promoted and contextualized according to each state’s needs.

“There’s no way any of us could have brought what was delivered in OneDay.OneFocus. None of us could have put that together and delivered it ourselves in our own states. It was such a blessing,” Halsey said.

The conference began with worship led by Emily Rhyder. Susie Hawkins taught on the conference’s theme passage, Ephesians 4:1-16, about building blocks of unity.

“Our unity empowers us; our unity gives credibility to the message of the Gospel,” Hawkins said.

Susie Hawkins spoke from Ephesians 4:1-16 during the main session of One Day. One Focus.

After the initial main session, attendees could choose from several breakout session options. Sessions included topics such as as leadership skills and character, spiritual disciplines, facing fears and emotions, responding to sexual abuse, practical ministry tips, missions panels and more.

During short breaks, attendees could socialize via the event platform’s chat feature or visit the conference’s virtual exhibitors. The conference concluded with a time of corporate prayer.

There were 1,025 registrants representing 37 states, including Arizona, and 24 countries, including 183 IMB missionaries who were given complimentary registrations.

“It just shows that there’s a need for the fellowship, there’s a need for that equipping and training, just to be reminded that we’re not alone,” Halsey said.

State conventions, national SBC entities and WMU were not just represented at the conference, but were true partners, Halsey said. Leaders from each, as well as IMB and NAMB missionaries, led breakout sessions and were available as exhibitors to speak with attendees.

The collaboration among women’s ministry leaders was meaningful for the organizers as well, Halsey said. She loved seeing the diversity of their roles ‚Äì while they all had the shared goal of training women leaders. How that was expressed in each state varied.

“The work [of planning the conference] gave state leaders the chance to come together. … We got to [virtually] sit around the table and listen to each other and hear each other,” she said.

Halsey wants all women to realize their influence, embrace it, trust God with it and use it to advance the kingdom.

“Women’s leadership in the church isn’t contained in any one title anymore,” she said. “And women integrate throughout all leadership roles in the church. … We wanted to offer a message of inclusion, not exclusion: You belong here.” (BP)

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