CHICAGO, IL (May 6, 2010) – The Central and Northwest Conference Women Ministries experienced dramatic increases in attendance during their annual meetings this year because they radically changed the formats and moved the dates, leaders say.
Normally the ministries hold their business meetings in conjunction with the regular conference annual meetings. This year, the Women Ministries groups separated their events.
The presidents of the Central Conference and Northwest Conference Women Ministries said changes were made to increase attendance as well as to foster more opportunity for connections and spiritual growth.
“The gathering changed in a huge way this year as the ‘annual meeting’ format just didn’t have much relevance anymore,” says Central Conference Women Ministries President Ann Richards. “Women no longer were interested in the ‘business’ of Women Ministries and weren’t setting time aside to come and listen to a presenter. For today’s women to set aside time from their busy lives, gatherings need to have a clear sense of purpose.”
This year, Women Ministries held a “Spring Celebration” at First Covenant Church in Rockford, Illinois, and women could choose to participate in a “mini-retreat” April 9-10 or a one-day retreat on April 10.
As a result, attendance roughly quadrupled. Attendance at the 2009 meeting had declined to 35 from the mid-50s in 2008. This year, 137 women participated, including 37 who arrived Friday evening.
Speaker Rachel Mohn wove messages throughout the day, but the event also offered nine break-out sessions that included two Advocacy for Victims of Abuse (AVA) presentations, a session about “The New Day for Children” – the 2010 Break the Chains emphasis – and a Triennial XIII session. Ministry coaches also presented ways in which Women Ministries assists career missionaries.
Attendance at the March 26-27 Northwest Conference Women Ministries gathering more than quadrupled over the previous year, says President Heidi Broberg. Registration jumped from 60 last year to 275 in 2010.
The age of women attending also grew more diverse, says Broberg, with registrants ranging in ages from their 20s to their 90s. Additionally, individual churches increased their participation. “Groups of five to 20 from one church were coming. In the past it was maybe one or two.”
The gathering was held at Alexandria Covenant Church in Alexandria, Minnesota, because of its more central location, says Broberg. The events included an outreach to the community and fun night together. Saturday included the business session, but also worship, two speakers, and several options for workshops during two breakout sessions. “We went from having about two and a half hours of rushed time together to one and a half days of celebration and renewed spirits – what a huge difference,” Broberg declares.
She adds, “The feedback far exceeded our expectations. On a scale of one to five, with five being excellent, we had an average score of 4.65.”