Spiritual Refreshment for Women
Elisabeth Smyth will once again host two conferences for women in May. We asked her to explain why women’s workers and ministry wives should add one of these conferences to their diary.
Sometimes friends ask me, “but what do you actually do?” Well, part of my job involves spending time with some quite remarkable and dedicated women whom God has called to minister in our churches.
And a highlight for me is helping FIEC to host two back-to-back events designed specifically to enable groups of women’s workers and ministry wives to spend 48 hours together with the aim of providing an opportunity for physical and spiritual refreshment.
Reflecting on the past six years of Thrive and our first year of running a Ministry Wives Retreat, I am struck by three things in particular:
- 1. We have prayed over the past couple of decades that God would raise up a new generation of men for gospel ministry, and he has answered generously by also raising up a new generation of women who are willing to serve him in church-based ministry. And, in response, what an encouragement it has been to see a diverse group of women’s workers being set apart by many of our churches for pastoral or teaching roles amongst the women of those congregations.
- 2. As those women’s workers start off in what is a new ministry for them and, usually, a first for the church, there is a great need to combat feelings of isolation and lack of confidence. Those twin concerns are often similarly experienced by women who are married to men in ministry, but are not easy to express or alleviate.
- 3. One way FIEC can try to help is by gathering women in ministry together for spiritual refreshment and the opportunity to develop ministry friendships across different churches. This helps to sustain these women in ministry through the year. Thrive and our Ministry Wives Retreat are ‘small beginnings’ but it has been thrilling to see God using these events to further our vision of seeing independent churches working together.
But I would be enthusiastic, wouldn’t I? So here is what some of the women who joined us last year said about Thrive and our Ministry Wives Retreat:
“The privilege of being at Thrive was that I could re focus - hear from God’s word for spiritual refreshment, spend time talking to others which was a great encouragement - and spend time alone with God and with His Word.”
“The highlight had to be being given one whole hour to sit and pray and reflect on all we had learnt. It’s so easy to go home without digesting what we have learnt. As I sat amongst the trees, looking at the river I couldn’t quite believe that I was allowed to do this – what a treat!!”
“There are so many things I love about Thrive… Holland House and its beautiful gardens… the Bible teaching and the opportunity to discuss it and to take it deeper and to think practically… the opportunity to meet up with friends made at previous ‘Thrives’ and to make new ones”
“It was an absolute joy to spend time with other Ministry Wives, sharing the blessings and challenges of serving God in this way.”
Thrive is for our women’s workers – those who have been set apart by their church for word or pastoral ministry – and will run from Monday 14 May until lunchtime on Wednesday 16 May. If you are a women’s worker and are interested in this event but have not received a personal invitation to join us, please get in touch via our contact form (select ‘Women’s Ministry’ from the drop-down list).
Our Ministry Wives Retreat is for those women married to men serving in our churches and women who are married to men in our Pastors’ Network. It will follow Thrive, starting on the afternoon of Wednesday 16 May and running through to lunchtime on Friday 18 May.
This year we are returning to Holland House and are looking forward to Siân Baker, from Lansdowne Church in Bournemouth, bringing Bible ministry at both events on the theme of Life-Changing Encounters. Siân is married to Peter, lead pastor at Lansdowne, and is involved in pastoral care, is part of the Women’s Ministry Team.