On Sabbath 11 May 2019, at the Novotel in Wolverhampton a team of four Adventist young women welcomed 130 young women aged 16-30 years old for the first North England Conference (NEC) Young Women's Conference. The Women's Ministries department have been running annual Women's Retreats and Days and this year; Sis Beulah Plunkett Women's Ministries and Sabbath School director saw the need for a day specifically targeted to the younger females within the Conference and that it should be planned and delivered by young women.
After handing over the baton to the four young women who accepted to plan and lead this event (Miranda Roberts, Abigail Hazel, Zhane Simpson and Natalie Jeffers) the first Young Women's Conference, titled 'Real Beauty: Masterpieces in the Making' was born. The team planned it to be an uplifting day of encouragement and discussion for all those who attended, and it was!
The theme for the day was reflected in the morning's session as attendees followed the life of a woman called Melissa. Through the use of shorts skits, everyone followed her through various stages of her life; going through school, her first relationship, university and her career. Each of these stages were followed by talks with four different speakers covering the topics of 'Silencing Insecurities with God', 'Toxic Relationships', 'Identity in Christ' and 'Empowered by the Holy Spirit'. The speakers shared not only their knowledge of the Bible through these topics, but their personal experiences as well, showing just how practical the subject matters were. The 15 minute 'TEDTalks' were tasters for the afternoon's interactive workshops where the women were able to dig deeper into these topics, and even that didn't seem to be enough time to discuss for some!
Through these smaller break-out groups, safe spaces were created for women to share their personal stories, showing just how important such events can be to stimulate learning from one another.
As well as the topics that were presented, a prayer room was available throughout the day where women were free to pray on their own, or with older women that were there for support and to offer prayers.
Not only was this an event to hear from guest speakers, but it also gave the young women a chance to network with each other and encourage each other, swapping small notes of encouragement and fellowshipping over the buffet lunch that was provided. Many of the young women said that they had been waiting for such an event to take place and others said that the information they received from the talks and workshops helped them to understand more how they should deal with the real-life issues that they were facing, and that the topics were highly relevant to their personal struggles.
The feedback from the evaluations was that 90% said the day was excellent and many said that they left feeling more confident and empowered and they thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing. The team have been asked to bring the programme to the churches, so plans are underway.
It was also noted that such an event would also be ideal for the young men within the NEC, to give them a chance to lift one another up in a similar way. Whether it was through the messages shared or through the fellowship experienced, each young lady was reminded that we really all are 'Masterpieces of God's handiwork'.
We have 'Real Beauty' when filled with God's Holy Spirit!