The Women’s Ministries department at the conference level strives to assist women at the local church level to develop their personal relationships with Christ, give them tools for service in ministry, and support them in any way possible.
Women’s Ministries is more than a department at the Carolina Conference; it is quite literally women in ministry! In the Carolina Conference women make up over 52 percent of the membership. Women are working and serving in all areas of ministry at the local church and conference level. Women are giving Bible studies, running community service programs, teaching Sabbath School, cleaning our churches, organizing potlucks, visiting the sick, providing meals for those who need it, serving as church clerks, treasurers, elders, deaconesses, pastors and greeters, planning local church retreats, and so much more. Women’s Ministries is, very simply, women doing ministry — and it is alive and well! Or maybe it is best said that Women’s Ministries is women who are Embracing Carolina with the Compassionate Call of Christ.
During the past six years, over 4,000 women have attended a Carolina Conference women’s retreat. This doesn’t even include all the local church retreats. At every event new members, non-Adventists, and former Adventists were in attendance.
In 2020 there was a virtual conference-wide retreat where women tuned in from all around the world. The first night over 100 women were on the Zoom call and hundreds more were watching on YouTube. Many of those “views” were women hosting watch parties in their homes with as many as 20 women watching together. The view count is now in the hundreds. The theme of the virtual retreat was Deeper, and Gail McKenzie from the Kentucky-Tennessee Conference, challenged us all to get excited about Bible study. As a result, many churches started women’s small group Bible studies, getting together weekly and studying God’s Word.
There have also been retreats at the local church level. These mini retreats have been instrumental in reclaiming members who had stopped attending church. Mini retreats have been a place where women feel comfortable inviting non-Adventist friends. Each retreat has proven to be evangelistic, bringing women to Christ!
Retreats, both conference-wide and at the local church level, often include some type of community outreach. At a 2019 mini retreat in Columbia, S.C., the manager of the local women’s shelter was invited to speak about assisting women in abusive relationships. They also raised money for the shelter. In 2021, the Carolina Conference women’s retreat invited attendees to write letters for women to read when they receive news of a breast cancer diagnosis. These letters were sent to an organization that supplies doctors’ offices with letters for the newly diagnosed women. These are just two examples of the community service outreach that takes place at the retreats.
All over the conference women are starting, growing, and managing outreach programs at the local church level. Many of these programs start in the Women’s Ministries department and then expand to become departments on their own. An example of this is God’s Closet, which has grown so big that it is now its own ministry at the local church level and part of the Community Services department at the Carolina Conference. Bags of Love, another popular outreach, began in the Women’s Ministries department at the Arden Adventist Church. This outreach provides necessities and comfort items to children who are in crisis due to neglect, abuse, poverty, or homelessness.
Since 2019 we have been hosting monthly Zoom calls for all the local church Women’s Ministries leaders. The women share what they are doing in their churches so they can learn from each other, encourage one another and get new ideas. This also gives us the opportunity to share what resources are available to the local church from the General Conference, North American Division, the Southern Union, and Carolina Conference.
Joy in the Weeds is our new podcast hosted by Beth Grissom, Women’s Ministries director, and Kim Cove and produced by the Carolina Conference. On this podcast Beth and Kim explore how we can have joy and struggle at the same time. They have invited and interviewed many amazing guests, and the podcast has over 5,000 downloads.
Women’s Ministries is alive and well! In a world that is uncertain and ever changing, women around the Carolinas continue to serve their families, their churches, and their communities. Truly, women are Embracing Carolina With the Compassionate Call of Christ.