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Conferences encourage communication between singlescomment (0)

May 13, 2004

By Anthony Wade

Alabama Baptist single adults are finding wider networks of Christians through singles organizations and conferences.

There are numerous groups on the national, regional and local scenes that are well-equipped to offer this kind of ministry.

“Conferences help them see they are not alone — that there are other individuals with similar circumstances,” said Cynthia Watts, minister to singles at First Baptist Church, Dothan. She noted conferences are not only for personal sharing but for a “broadening of ideas.”

Singles conferences are not new to Watts, a member of the planning committee for the Labor Day Singles Conference at Ridgecrest Baptist Conference Center, Ashville, N.C.

She said major events must consider age ranges and life statuses of single adults. One of the most popular elements of conferences is breakout sessions. “The great value of this type of conference is having options for single adults from baby boomers through senior adults,” she said. “They want to be in control of what they attend.”

She said a recent singles conference in Columbia Association attracted more than 200 singles mostly in their 30s to 60s.

Spiritual blessings

Encouraging communication among a wide group of singles and providing a once-a-month social gathering is the forté of a Birmingham-based group — the Safe & Single Interdenominational Supper Club Ministry. The organization was founded by its president, Jo Beth Riddle, a member of First Baptist Church, Pelham.

She began the ministry in December 2000 with four people. Now, the group has more than 1,000 singles identified on its mailing list and conducts meetings where up to 120 singles gather. They meet at restaurants, public parks or homes for food, fellowship and Bible study. Child care is made available when possible.

“The ministry exists to impact singles communities and let them know they are appreciated, loved and made to feel important in God’s eyes,” Riddle said, noting it also has an evangelistic twist.

The meetings equip Christians to share their faith with others and invite people who are not Christians to participate. Participating can bring other blessings, Riddle said. “I have never promoted this ministry as a dating service, but 14 couples have met in my ministry and married. We are human, so these marriages have been a spiritual blessing,” she said.

Another Birmingham-based organization gives more options on the national level. Under the Scott Dawson Evangelistic Association the Strength to Stand Singles Conference targets younger single adults. These Smoky-Mountain-set conferences provide single adults the means — through nature, speaking, singing and drama — to find a deeper, more effective relationship with Jesus.

For more information on singles ministry organizations visit the resources section of www.thealabamabaptist.org.

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