Over 430 Women Attend Strengthen & Stir Women’s Conference
EDGEWATER, Md. — Over 430 women, from teens to octogenarians, poured into Riva Trace Baptist Church in Edgewater on March 10-11 for the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware’s (BCM/D) “Strengthen and Stir” Women’s Conference, in partnership with the North American Mission Board’s Send Network.
Throughout the two days, the ladies laughed – some throw-your-head-back style guffaws, they cried, and they prayed a lot.
BCM/D Ministers’ Wives Consultant Somer Phoebus, who coordinated the conference, said she was blown away by the turnout, rivaling the attendance of many BCM/D annual meetings. She welcomed guests and laughed as she told attendees — “You amazed us. We changed our venue three times because our registration kept filling up!”
Phoebus, who is married to Kent Phoebus, a co-pastor of South Shore Church in Crownsville, said she was planning a conference for pastors’ wives and felt led to expand the event and open it up to all women throughout the convention (and beyond). “At that point, we set a goal of 100 women and thought it would be so cool to see that happen.” Within three weeks, they sold out. They found another location and opened registration again, and put a cutoff at 250. “We hit that so fast. Then we hit three hundred and crossed 325. It was a very exciting time!” she said.
BCM/D Women’s Ministry Consultant Melody Knox was thrilled with the conference. “I thought the women were really eager to get back together. I could feel the excitement!” Knox was especially pleased that several teens attended and came to her breakout session on prayer. “They sat on the floor. That warmed my heart that they would come to my session on prayer.”
The keynote speakers were Michelle Myers, an author, and entrepreneur who, with Phoebus, founded She Works His Way Network (SWHW), and Tammy Lashey, a graphic designer and communications professional who serves with her husband Mark Lashey, the lead pastor of LifeHouse Church, Townsend, Delaware.
An ordinary life with boldness for Christ is not boring
On Friday, conference-goers welcomed Myers with cheers, and she gracefully gave a timely message with a powerful presentation. Myers connected with the women immediately, drawing them in with touching humor, encouragement, challenges, and the Word of God.
Sharing from Acts, Myers said, “The story is still being written.” The church of Christ was born, and the Holy Spirit lit the flame. “The same gospel movement, the same mission that existed then, is the same one we are a part of today.”
Referring to Acts 3, Myers shared the story of Peter and John healing a beggar. Myers said the man was probably begging in the same place he did every day. Peter and John passed him during the course of their typical day. “They (Peter and John) didn’t have a dream board and say, ‘I really want to find a beggar today. Let’s go find
one, and we can mark this off of our to-do list.'” As they went, Peter and John understood the power of God was needed in this situation, and they were bold enough to heal the man and share the gospel with the witnesses even though they knew it would have a cost. And when the religious leaders opposed them, asking by what power they healed the man, Peter boldly proclaimed it was the power of Jesus. Myers said, “We can be filled with pride, distraction, selfishness, and just our own stuff, but Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit — this is the only difference from the guy who denied Jesus three times.
“It was the ordinary combined with boldness. So often, we think there’s ordinary, and then there’s bold. But boldness coupled with ordinary was the difference. An ordinary life with boldness for Christ is not boring. People will notice the difference not because of what we’re doing but because of the power that exists inside us.
Tammy Lashey shared about sin and repentance. As a society, lawlessness means an utter disregard for God and His laws. “That is where we are in society, and that grieves my heart, and it’s a sobering reality.” Lashey said, “We all have a hunger to hear the truth and sort out how to live in a world that is dark and difficult to navigate. As I minister to women, I see depression, anxiety, confusion, hopelessness, suicidal thoughts, isolation, and loneliness — not just in the world but in the church. It’s a struggle living in a dark world. Our world tends to bleed over on us.”
Breakouts focused on encouragement for moms who work outside the home; marriage and parenting; women leading in ministry; soul care, gospel productivity, and a special lunch and panel for pastors’ wives.
Meredith Dake- O’Connor, a member of Citizen’s Church in Annapolis, volunteered at the snack counter during the conference. “One thing that staggered me was how many women were at the conference – from all over. It was very clear that we have tapped into something needed in churches today — our women being fed, especially pastors’ wives. I also saw a deep desire of women for fellowship outside of their own churches.”
Terri Budd, a member of SonRise Church in Berlin, said she especially enjoyed a portion of Somer Phoebus’ “Soul Care” breakout regarding assessment using red, yellow, and green. Somer explained the traffic light colors are ways of evaluating emotional, mental, physical, and relational health. Red is not good; yellow is okay; and green means things are going well. “It’s a way to check on yourself and say — this is where I’m at, where I need to set boundaries and take care of myself, where the enemy is attacking,” Somer said it’s also a great way to help husbands express themselves.
Recently widowed, Jo Anne Jordan was feeling isolated. “Going to the conference and seeing the younger women loving the Lord and praising Him was so refreshing. Jordan was married to Ed Jordan, the former pastor of Faith Baptist Church, Knoxville. She attended the women in ministry breakout session and enjoyed seeing so many women in so many ministry different roles. “That was encouraging for me. She said Kris Buckman told the group, “God has prepared you for your ministry.” Jo Anne said going through a time of “figuring out who I am” in this new season of her life, that Kris’ statement was affirming to her. Also, Jo Anne met a young woman who had a different background during the breakout, yet they bonded, exchanged numbers, and planned to reconnect. “I loved everything about the conference,” Jo Anne said.
Jamie Caldwell, the pastor of South Shore Church and the BCM/D church planting team leader, encouraged women to “Give your anxiety to Jesus. If you don’t feel rested, it’s because you haven’t given him your burden. Jesus says give me your burden, and you say, ‘no thanks.’”
Caldwell also told attendees they were not alone. “Step into ministry WITH Jesus, not FOR Jesus.”
Somer said women connected on deep levels. She attributed that to prayer. “Prayer was so interwoven into the entire weekend. That Friday opportunity to gather as churches and pray for churches, communities, and leaders – that moment for me was one I’ll never forget — listening to women praying out loud. It united hearts from the get-go and connected women with each other in ways we couldn’t have done.
Plans are underway for another packed-out conference in 2024.