Wesleyan Holiness Women Clergy Preparing to Gather in 2022
By Courtney Rice Alford
Last March, more than 370 women and men gathered in Ridgecrest, North Carolina, for the biennial Wesleyan Holiness Women Clergy Conference (WHWC)—right at the dawn of the pandemic. For many in attendance, the conference was probably the last large in-person gathering they attended before states began to put regulations in place to try and slow the spread of the virus.
Looking back, it is hard to believe that it has been an entire year since that gathering. Though the conference ended up looking different, as attendees had to spread out and limit the number of people in each room for workshops and main sessions, it still proved to be a time filled with Spirit-led prayer and worship, anointed preaching, and meaningful opportunities for women clergy from various Wesleyan Holiness denominations to connect.
WHWC was originally birthed out of the Church of God in the early 1990s when Dr. Susie Stanley felt called to create a gathering for women clergy to connect and be encouraged across ecumenical lines. As a result of Stanley’s vision and implementation, the WHWC conference came into being, and has since served as a regular opportunity for women to be strengthened and encouraged for vocational ministry.
Wesleyan Holiness Women Clergy exists to engage, empower, and equip women to lead in the church at every level. The biennial conference is one avenue that allows women clergy to connect and be refreshed for the work of ministry.
As pastors have been navigating new challenges in ministry due to the pandemic, those planning the 2022 conference are hopeful and expectant that next year’s gathering will be a refreshing and inspiring time for all who attend.
The planning committee meets regularly, and as they look forward to what God will do at E2022, they are mindful that many women who attend next March might be on the verge of burnout and in need of refreshment and reaffirmation of the call to continue serving the church in this challenging time.
Over the last year, pastors have had to learn to utilize technology in new and creative ways, host virtual church services, preach in front of a camera, rather than in front of parishioners in the pews, as well as release some of the expectations one might hold in regard to what it means to be “the church.”
Carron Odokara, president of the WHWC board states, “E2022 will be the getaway that we need and want as women in ministry. It will be a time for those of us who lead and serve others to get refreshed and prepared for what’s next in all that God wants to do through us.”
As the planning committee prays, plans, and prepares for E2022, they look forward with expectancy for the next opportunity to gather for a time of refreshment as women clergy.
Please save the date and begin to make plans now to attend E2022 in Grapevine, Texas, next March 10–12, 2022. Registration will open this spring.
The Church of God is represented on the WHWC board by Tatum Osbourne, Shannon New Spangler as treasurer, and Carron Odokara as president. In addition, Courtney Rice Alford serves on the WHWC conference planning committee, and Margaret Dunn serves on the WHWC communications team.
For details and registration, visit www.womenclergyconference.com. Rev. Courtney Rice Alford serves as missionary specialist for Global Strategy. Learn more about Wesleyan Holiness Women Clergy at www.whwomenclergy.org.