The atmosphere was electric and conversation wasn’t lacking, as women gathered together for ALIVE 2015 at LifeWay Conference Center. God was up to something in downtown Nashville. But he was also up to something in other parts of the United States simultaneously.
More than 700 women gathered in the Volunteer State for the first ALIVE conference, birthed and produced by the Wesleyan Women’s Movement of The Wesleyan Church. Along with the Nashville location, over 500 women attended the conference via satellite in Tucson, Ariz., Milton, Penn., and Tampa, Fla., as well as other locations.* The number of women in attendance at all locations totaled 1,224. More will be added to the number when the Canada location will hosts its own ALIVE conference this weekend.
The ALIVE leadership team provided a setting for participants to “grow, enrich, and thrive” through worship, general sessions, life track seminars, and opportunities to engage and serve together. The event focused on Ephesians: 2:4-5: “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions–it is by grace you have been saved.”
Jaime Jamgochian, singer, songwriter, and worship leader, led worship. Keynote speakers included Jo Anne Lyon, General Superintendent of The Wesleyan Church; Bianca Olthoff, writer, teacher, and chief storyteller for The A21 Campaign, an anti-human trafficking organization; and Jo Saxton, director of 3DM, a movement/organization with a vision and passion to change the world by putting discipleship and mission back into the hands of ordinary people.
The weekend was vibrant and dynamic, as women connected with each other, laughed, cried, and engaged in deep conversation over meals and coffee times. Throughout the weekend, the phrase “God is up to something” could be heard, whether voiced by someone on stage or in whispers between old or new friends.
For one year prior to the event, a team prayed every day over requests posted on the ALIVE Facebook page. The team began with 100 members and grew to 260, praying for God to move. And he certainly worked in unexpected ways, bringing healing, conviction, and encouragement to women all weekend and when they returned home. He is still working.
In one of the final moments of the weekend, Dr. Jo Anne Lyon, General Superintendent of The Wesleyan Church, honored Rev. Andrea Summers, the leader of the Wesleyan Women’s Movement, for envisioning ALIVE and setting a great team into motion that made it all possible.
Here are a few statistics regarding the weekend:
- 10,152 meals were made (in Nashville only) in partnership with Operation Inasmuch to give to Nashville residents in need
- 2,128 new or gently used bras were collected in multiple locations in partnership with Free the Girls, an organization that provides an opportunity for sex trafficking survivors to earn a living selling second-hand clothing while going to school, getting healthy, and caring for their families.
- $9,328 was collected between all locations for Wesleyan Women Heart of Ministry offering, which will help fund five-month residential internships for women in Nepal: vocational skills, literacy skills, and discipleship training.
- 27 life track seminar options offered in Nashville. Some of these were offered to participants via satellite, and some were offered onsite in other cities as well. Topics like purposeful singleness, prayer and mentoring sessions, sex and intimacy in marriage, fighting human trafficking, finding thankfulness in the midst of struggles, and more were covered.
- 374 dresses were made through Dress a Girl Around the World, an organization that seeks for every girl around the world to own at least one dress, providing love and worth to each one.
While statistics reflect God at work, personal stories tell more. Here are just what a few ladies have said about ALIVE:
“The ladies from my church started a Facebook group with all of them that went to ALIVE and they are sharing and encouraging each other and opening up about areas where the Lord is convicting them and bringing healing. It is INCREDIBLE!” -Becky Bell, North Carolina
“One quick quote that stood out for me from Jo Saxton’s main session Saturday evening is that ‘we’re not supposed to be ready—we’re supposed to be faithful.'” -Olivia Ortmann, Indiana
“As I’ve been processing this past weekend the thing that keeps coming to mind is how beautiful the body of Christ is. Seeing sisters in Christ worship together, pray for one another, encourage each other and love on each other was truly a breathtaking thing to behold. His presence was so real and so thick all weekend for me. I saw Jesus this weekend. I saw a glimpse of what He desires the Church to look like and I will never be the same.” -Deborah Rhodes, Indiana
“I was blessed to be on the planning team for the Northeast Area ALIVE satellite location, serving under the capable leadership of Debbie Beers. With the “unknowns” of how the technology stuff would come together, we were thrilled when everything worked beautifully, from the start of the event until we ended on Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m. We had 144 registered attendees and had a beautiful location (Christ Wesleyan Church/Milton, PA) to hold the event. We were blessed by the teachings of Bianca Olthoff, by the worship leading of Danelle Cressinger, and the fantastic team of track leaders that God helped Rosalie Brown put together. A total of 285 bras were collected and a solid offering was taken for the Heart of Missions offering. It is our prayer that each of us who attended will forward continuing to grow and learn from the things that we experienced at the Northeast Area ALIVE.”
-Pam Fetterhoff, Pennsylvania
“I was really inspired by listening to Jo Saxton. I really felt God was speaking out to me to share my testimony. As Jo Saxton said, “Good news should not be private.” I have felt shame about my testimony and fearful to share it with others but I realized my story is truly amazing when the outcome is God’s Grace, love and relationship. I’ll be afraid no longer to share how God was with me even at my lowest, waiting and wanting me to know his love.” -Sarah Smith, California
“Women came to ALIVE in expectation that God was going to show up in a big way because they had covered every single part of ALIVE in prayer. A prayer team that began with 100 women and grew to 260, prayed every day over requests posted on the ALIVE 2015 Prayer Facebook page. Everything was surrendered to the Lord: general session speakers, worship leaders, musicians, life track speakers, storytellers, exhibitors, vendors, leadership team, and every name on the registration list, including our own hearts. Each speaker/musician had a prayer partner from the prayer team that prayed for them every day leading up to ALIVE. They contacted them to encourage them and met up with them at ALIVE to pray over them. God was invited into every aspect of ALIVE and he welcomed the invitation!”
-Cheryl Mansell, Ohio
*These numbers reflect all satellite and main campus (Nashville) numbers, plus a live streaming option for churches to get together that were more than 5 hours away from any satellite locations. A Canada event will be held this weekend with expected attendance of 100, plus a few more Canada events at other locations.