Women in Church Leadership Forum

The following article was written by Charlotte Rakestraw, GCI Social Media & Communications Coordinator, after attending the 2019 Women’s Leadership Forum in Hickory.

From being greeted at the hotel door, and meeting new faces the first night, to the end when we all knew each other’s name and felt like sisters in Christ, the Women in Church Leadership Forum held in Hickory in April, was a delight and honor to participate in.

Pastoral Resident Elizabeth Mullins hosted and led the group of women leaders from the Southeast US. In our opening session, we discussed the importance of a women-only development gathering, and the nuances between different phenomena like inhibition and prohibition. We spoke about the importance of understanding belonging in Christ. Fellowshipping with a group of like-minded women from different areas and backgrounds helped us understand our experiences better, to then better lead others as well.

The forum was co-hosted by Assistant Pastor Davina Winn, who led us Saturday morning in a spiritual meditation practice. We had an open discussion about our experiences while meditating and listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit instead of listening to our inner critic. Davina shared her own story about finding her authentic voice in leadership.

As a group we shared our church leadership stories, exploring our challenges while encouraging our sisters with advice and affirmation. Elizabeth led us again in a discussion on mentorship and gave resources for mentorship development, as well as the opportunity to form a cohort group in which we can have intentional ongoing support for one another.

We had some downtime to fellowship between sessions and unpack individual discussions together. During our lunch break, many of the ladies explored beautiful downtown Hickory and local establishments near the GC Hickory church building, where the forum was held.

Our final discussion focused on detaching from praise and criticism and reframing feedback and conflict. With Elizabeth’s guidance, these conversations helped the group rethink our roles and actions while working as part of a leadership team.

Afterward, each participant was encouraged to give anonymous feedback. Some highlights from the exit survey included appreciation that everyone had a voice and was given time to share their authentic stories.

The entire forum was organized to be a beautiful balance of learning and listening, while also highly participatory and discussion based. We loved the sister circle and appreciated the safe environment where everyone could be open and transparent. It was a unique opportunity to network with other women in GCI church leadership and celebrate the diversity of our female leaders within the church.

 

3 thoughts on “Women in Church Leadership Forum”

  1. The covered conference topics certainly sound interesting and I would have loved to learn from the exchanges coming from a women perspective. The big smiles speak for you and for the value of holding such events. The entire church is edified through your experiences and gained understanding. Thanks much for your willingness to serve our Lord and His children.

    Every blessing,
    Santiago and Elke

  2. Wonderful! My heart is filled with joy at the time and experience you shared together. Looking forward to “my turn” to join you! 😉

  3. It is wonderful to see that there are so many more women leaders today, that our voices and concerns are heard in a new way, and that the church is understanding that women have leadership abilities. Our church will be ordaining me as a local elder on June 30th, and I am very excited, but have some small trepidation. In this vein, I would invite any comments and prayers regarding this new challenge in my spiritual life. I have attended two women’s retreats for Pastors’ wives or pastoral leaders, and they have been very inspiring and uplifting. My husband and I have been on a Pastoral Team for almost two years now, and it has been very challenging and eye opening. It is my desire to understand, learn and perform all that God wants me to in this new role, so any encouragement or advice as I go forward are very much appreciated.

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