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Brook Hills women’s conference focuses on directions for Christian livingcomment (0)

April 5, 2001

By Dianna L. Cagle

About 800 women met recently to talk about life’s journeys. And they found there are many journeys in a woman’s life. The Women of Worship conference March 9–10 at The Church at Brook Hills, Birmingham, dealt with several of those — singleness, marriage, parenting, workplace, relationships, crisis, brokenness and womanhood.
“It’s vital when half your congregation is women” to have someone in a leadership role, said Dawn Stephens, director of women’s ministries at Brook Hills.
More and more churches are coming to recognize the importance of having someone lead the women of the church, whether through a paid or unpaid position, she said.
The two-day event, which took 18 months to plan, brought women together from throughout Alabama and surrounding states to discover their “Journey: Finding God’s Direction in This Journey Called Life.”
The women were given a choice of three seminars to attend, each  covering a specific topic.
“I learned how to become a better parent and to be a better wife,” said Leigh Duke, who attended the parenting and marriage classes. Duke is a member of Clayridge Baptist Church, Birmingham.
Sandi Norwood, a drama leader and member of The Church at Brook Hills, performed for both days. The first day Norwood portrayed a Bible study leader who spent all her time gossiping and not on the business of learning God’s Word. The second day she was the Samaritan woman meeting Jesus at the well.
Norwood, who has been in dramas since she was 15, said drama was “something that never left me.”
Norwood hopes her ministry — leading drama workshops and participating in various conferences — will one day be full time.
“I can’t deny the calling — God’s calling me to step out in faith,” she said.
Lisa Bearden said she attended classes on brokenness and crisis. “Learning that you are not only living for yourself but preparing to help others” helps in your walk with Christ, said Bearden, a member at Westwood Baptist Church, Alabaster. “It’s as if God knew what I needed.”
Reba Chapman came to the conference with a group from College Heights Baptist Church, Gadsden. She said she could relate to the crisis seminar because she has children, and “you’re always dealing with crisis in life. You just have to give it to God and learn not to take it back.”
A Christian’s stronghold can be found in the Bible, said Chapman.
“Everything you need is in the Bible,” she said. “You don’t need anything else.”
Most of the teachers at the conference were from the Birmingham area, Stephens said, with the exception of: Esther Burroughs, the keynote speaker; Alicia Williamson, worship leader; and Carol Engle-Avriett, leader of the “Journey thru Crisis” seminar.
Every participant took part in Esther Burroughs’ seminar on her book, “Empowered.”
Burroughs told the participants that a woman’s power for her family can be utilized through prayer. “When you pray specifically, God answers specifically,” she said.
The former Samford campus minister and well-known conference speaker said she was given a great gift from her parents — a heritage of faith.
Getting to know the Holy Spirit is an important part of creating that kind of heritage, but it is not an easy process, she said.
“Sometimes I say the Holy Spirit can’t get in the Baptist church because He’s not on the program,” she said to a laughing crowd. “He is the program.”
God’s power is released through prayer, Burroughs emphasized.
Lenora Pate, teacher of the workplace seminar and member of Dawson Memorial Baptist Church, Homewood, said women are constantly on the go — carpooling, cleaning house, working, etc.
“Sleeping is not part of God’s plan for women,” Pate said. “The Bible tells you to pray morning, noon and night. It doesn’t tell you to eat three meals a day.”
Even though women are on the run, Pate said their expertise in dealing with multiple tasks can work in their favor. She said she started a daily quiet time by sitting down while blow-drying her hair. 
Donna Houston challenged participants in her relationships seminar to be the “salt of the earth.”
She shared that in the Old Testament, the women were called to sacrifice their mirrors to melt for the tabernacle.
“Maybe a mirror is about sacrifice,” Houston said after encouraging the women to look into the mirror. “Maybe it’s about giving of myself.”
Fran Curry, a news anchor at WVTM-13 in Birmingham, spoke to single women about priorities.
“When we’re trying to blaze our own trail, we’ll get burned,” she said. “We must be more focused on our ministry than on getting married.”
God’s main purpose in creating life was so people could follow Him, she added. Single people have a lot of freedom to “make a difference in the world.”
Sometimes when people get busy, they forget about God, Curry said. That’s why “we have the emptiness.”

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