Crises, Intensifying Fatigue Spotlight Need for September Conference
By Carl Stagner
While ministry isn’t for the faint of heart, the past several months have certainly stretched even the most seasoned pastors. When shutdowns closed church doors across the country and around the world, ministers were among those scrambling to find ways to avoid suspending essential functions. With trial and error, as well as bold steps into the unknown, ministers have learned how to adapt to the ever-changing circumstances, but often have very little left to give after a hard day’s work. Arise, the encouraging and equipping network of Church of God women in ministry, recognizes the need to come alongside these ministers and provide opportunity for personal renewal. Knowing firsthand the particular needs of women in ministry, Arise invites all ladies who have accepted the divine call on their life to participate in a special, all-online conference this September 17–18.
Not unlike other ministries, Arise had exciting plans in mind for the 2020 year. Conferences were scheduled for each of the Church of God Regional Conventions until the pandemic forced everyone to become a little more creative. The solution: design an all-online experience that would be far more than a Facebook Live-style broadcast or a simple webinar; the Arise Virtual Conference 2020 had to practically do what its featured guests would preach and teach. Rest, refreshment, and renewal had to be a built-in feature of the conference, not simply subject matter delivered in conjunction with generous portion of Zoom fatigue and a side of one-more-thing-to-add to a woman minister’s already packed plate.
“This pandemic has proven to be stressful for everyone, particularly our pastors and church leaders,” explains Kayla Harden, ministry coordinator of programming for Christian Women Connection. “They were forced into making very quick decisions, and many had to adapt to a virtual church world rapidly. As the pandemic has stretched on, weariness has developed. What started as a sprint has turned into a marathon, and many have found themselves working at an unsustainable pace. We believe women serving in ministry need this conference now more than ever. That’s why we have decided to put together a digital conference where women can not only learn from amazing teachers, but also worship and engage in conversation in our breakout groups.”
Specifically, the Arise Virtual Conference 2020 is not just about producing video content for online consumption. Sure, there will be videos featuring inspirational teaching and resourcing for ministry in these troubled times. But there will also be moments of sweet fellowship, long-overdue connection, and necessary networking among women ministers. Discussion groups will be tailored to participants based on area of service and/or interest. There will also be moments set aside for worship led by Alanna Story. This, Kayla explains, is intentional.
“No one wants to sit on another Zoom call, much less be talked at for two hours,” Kayla continues. “We are designing this conference to be interactive and engaging so that, when we hang up, no one feels the dreaded Zoom fatigue. Instead, we want women to walk away refreshed, encouraged, and empowered to continue engaging in the work of the kingdom of God.”
Cheryl Sanders will present on the topic, “Leading Through a Crisis.” Randee Doe’s conversation will cover self-care and soul-care. Carron Odokara is slated to discuss an all-too-common pitfall of saying yes too many good things. Mary Stephens will teach on the vitality of spiritual disciplines. Two Zoom calls will compose the online conference, scheduled for 1:00 to 3:00 PM EDT each day, Thursday, September 17 and Friday, September 18.
Kayla sums it up this way: “This conference is for the young woman, who has felt that impression from the Holy Spirit to step into a leadership role, but is unsure if the Bible or the church will support her. This conference is for the woman who has searched for her place in ministry, but seems stuck in a season of transition. This conference is for the seasoned minister looking to share her wisdom and experience with the next generation. This conference is for the senior pastor, who has made so many difficult decisions in the last six months that even choosing what’s for dinner sounds like too great a chore. My hope for this conference is that women will walk away encouraged and equipped to continue on in ministry.”
Learn more about, and register for, the Arise Virtual Conference 2020, September 17–18, at www.arisechog.org.