‘Forgetting what is behind and pressing onward’

Published 4:53 pm Friday, April 3, 2009

“Persevere” was the theme of the third annual conference for women sponsored by Crenshaw County Women for Christ, an organization of Christian women from throughout Crenshaw County and surrounding areas. The theme was based upon Philippians 3:13-14 “… forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on…” The conference was held March 21 and was hosted by South Luverne Baptist Church.

Over 45 churches were represented by nearly 300 women of all ages. They were greeted by smiling hostesses at the entrances of the church that was beautifully decorated. Carrying the theme of “Persevere”, women’s purses were everywhere, hanging on a coat rack outside the main entrance of the church, clustered around a beautifully decorated dress form in the main lobby, stuffed with colorful tissue on the tables, and filled with flowers in the sanctuary.

The conference began with stirring music performed and led by Laura Aaron, a gifted music educator and minister of music. Laura was accompanied by an all-female band –a guitarist, bass guitarist, drummer, and pianist. The praise team led in music that included old hymns and contemporary praise songs.

Lauren Kitchens, from Tupelo, Mississippi, spoke during the morning and afternoon sessions. A former Family Channel host and news reporter and Christian radio talk show host, Lauren connected with the audience quickly with her sense of humor and genuine spirit. A professional musician, she broke out in song throughout her lively presentations. She used scripture and personal experiences as she shared her passion for people to grasp their worth in Christ so they can accomplish their life calling with victory, and she spoke about the beauty that can rise from adversity in life. During the breaks and for an hour after the conference, she took time to talk personally with many of the women who stayed to meet her. “She acted like she had always known me,” Ann Tate said.

Women enjoyed an extended time of fellowship during the lunch break. The food had been prepared by a team of volunteers the night before. Men served a delicious box lunch and cleaned up afterward so the women would not miss any part of the conference. Ladies ate inside the church, and many ate outside, picnic-style, and enjoyed the beautiful weather of the day.

After lunch, a choir of women, under the direction of Laura Aaron, blessed the audience as they sang two songs, “Press On” and “We’re Gonna Have a Time.” The choir members were from all parts of the county and had rehearsed several times prior to the conference.

Minnie Pearl’s great-niece, Penny Merle, alias Nancy Petrey, made a surprise appearance this year. Blessings were bundled into her hilarious routine including her unique poetry, challenging the attendees to persevere.

Over 30 door prizes were awarded during the morning and afternoon sessions, including a number of purses. Many of the prizes were donated by local merchants or were purchased with money donated by churches and individuals.

Dozens of volunteers worked for weeks prior to the women’s conference to prepare for the event.

“We are grateful to everyone who prayed and gave of their time, talent and treasure to make the conference possible. We couldn’t put this conference together without all our volunteers and people who donated money and goods,” said Veronica Wiley, a member of the steering committee.

T-shirts for $10 and a three-disc DVD recording of the conference for $20 are available. Those interested in purchasing these items should call 334-335-6609 for more information.

March 27, 2010, has been set as the date for next year’s conference, and work has already begun.