Seventy-eight women from across The Wesleyan Church of North America gathered in Florence, Ky., September 27 -29, for the Mustard Seed Gathering. The event was named to reflect Luke 13:18-19.
“The Wesleyan Women’s Movement is moving forward knowing that the smallest faith–even that of a mustard seed–can do the impossible and bring life to the church and the world,” said Andrea Summers, director of the Wesleyan Women’s Movement within The Wesleyan Church.
The purpose of the event was to hear about the future of women’s ministry for The Wesleyan Church, network, and “chart a course” together to effectively have an impact on God’s kingdom.
“If you came to get a program you can go home and implement in your church or your district, you will be disappointed,” said Rev. Summers, in her keynote message Friday night. “But if you came to ask God to throw open doors for new ways to see women rooted in their faith, growing toward holiness, and giving life to the world around them, then this is a conversation we can have together.”
Rev. Summers also presented “Brave New Women,” giving six shifts that experts have identified regarding ways women are connecting to church and faith.
As part of the day, the group of women also visited the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio. According to its website, Freedom Center’s purpose is to “tell the story of the struggle for freedom in the United States through exhibits and programs that focus on America’s battle to rid itself of . . . slavery and treat all citizens with respect and dignity.” Beth Cossin, Wesleyan Justice Network coordinator, led a debrief time after touring the center.
Women in a variety of church ministry roles attended and had positive feedback regarding the weekend.
“This movement is empowering women across the globe to actively pursue God given passions, abilities, and ministries for his kingdom. I left the Mustard Seed Gathering supported, connected, and inspired to lead where God has placed me, with the women He has placed by my side. Time to stop seeking for a perfect program and, instead, to start embracing who we are, in light of God’s great power at work through us.”
–Rev. Lexa Ennis, co-pastor of Broadway Wesleyan Church in Chicago
“As a women involved in Wesleyan Women for three decades, I am so thankful to see that the work will carry on. From time to time we have to relook at where we are and how ministry needs to change to effectively meet the women of today. Andrea’s team has done a beautiful job of doing just that. I left the Mustard Seed Gathering very moved and encouraged that his work to reach the women of our community, country, and world will continue.”
–Martha Watters, lay leader at Crosspoint Wesleyan Church in Mr. Orab, Ohio
“I found myself sitting with interesting and innovative women who are passionate about what they do. One of the specifics that I appreciated was that Andrea emphasized that every single women’s ministry and district is different and should do what God has called them to do with what they have available. She also gave several ways for us to get involved in the future.”
–Linda Hilgemann, pastor of Lighthouse Wesleyan Church in Elk Grove, Calif., and Pacific Southwest district director
“The Mustard Seed Gathering was both challenging and inspiring from start to finish. It was an amazing opportunity to see the new direction of Wesleyan Women, to meet and network with other women from across the U.S. and Canada, and to worship together. I left with a renewed purpose and excitement for ministering in the church and I am excited to see where God is going to lead us next.”
–Michelle Mowat, pastor’s wife at Crystal Lake Community Church in Crystal, Mich.