In October 2020, Susan Yates spoke at the Women’s Conference of The Anglican Diocese of South Carolina on “Eight Keys to See Our Almighty God with Greater Clarity.” If you didn’t get to hear the talks – or did, but want to re-listen. Do so here.
Finding Shelter in Times of Uncertainty; Women’s Retreat October 23-25
By Patricia Smith, President, Anglican Women
Upon rising the other morning, I couldn’t help but hum the beautiful old hymn “Face to Face with Christ My Savior.” Right now, there seems to be a hunger in our hearts, not only to see Him face to face but, after the last four months of “Sheltering at Home,” to see one another! Live streaming, FaceTime, and Zoom are all fine, but nothing beats face to face! We know so well the many wonderful, powerful things that happen when we are present together. We miss seeing, hearing, smiling, laughing, praying, crying and altogether just enjoying God and one another.
For some, these months of slowing down have allowed us the time and opportunity to draw closer to God and connect in a deeper way with our neighbors, but perhaps in this time God has revealed things we’ve “done and not done” that aren’t pleasing to Him. We hear reports of marriages going through economic and emotional stress. The loss or reduction of income has raised tension in the home. Both teachers and parents have had to wade into the uncharted waters of schooling children at home. Children and seniors are missing their friends and normal activities. Reflecting on these makes us ask ourselves, “Have I really learned how to trust and love God and my neighbors?” Thankfully, God, through others, sends His whispers of grace and healing as we seek Him.
Board Says, “Let’s Do It!”
By His grace and with that hunger in our mind, the Anglican Women’s Board wants to say…. “let’s do it!” Let’s face our fears of getting sick, be wise and appropriate with our distancing and masks, and let’s get together! St. Christopher, at this time, is willing to open its doors to the first 80 who register to lodge on campus and to the first 20 to register as one day or full-time commuters.
Susan Yates our Speaker
The whisperers of His grace have lined up with faith. Our keynoter this year, Susan Alexander Yates, is a mom to five children (including a set of twins) and grandmother to 21 (including a set of quadruplets!). She and her husband, John, have been married 50 years plus. Susan is an author of 16 books and speaks on the subjects of marriage, parenting, faith and women’s issues.
Q&A Panel Lunch for Young Moms with Susan Yates and Allison Lawrence
In addition to the main teachings, she will have a special lunch on Saturday with moms of young children to freely share and answer any questions on their hearts. We plan to have a Q and A Panel with Susan and our beloved, Allison Lawrence, whose daughter Chelsea will be our appointed and anointed Worship Leader for the weekend. Can’t get enough of that Lawrence clan!
Mentoring with Jayne Gurley
Jayne Gurley, who spoke to us at the Virtual Annual Gathering, will be hosting a wonderful workshop on women discipling or mentoring younger women. We will have our vision enlarged on how to carry out the directive in Titus 2:3,4 of the older women teaching the younger women.
Soaking Prayer with The Rev. Sandi Kerner
The Rev. Dr. Sandi Kerner, the Director of Programs at St. Christopher, will be our Chaplain for the weekend, leading Soaking Prayer and offering Eucharist on Sunday morning.
We covet your prayers that the upcoming retreat will not only be a whisper but more a strong tropical breeze with His Spirit, His Word and the fellowship providing us a “Shelter of Rest,” in the midst of unrest or just too much sheltering!
AN INVITATION FROM SUSAN YATES
The “new” normal is no longer new. It’s very old. The news overwhelms us with pandemic fears, riots, protests, rumors of foreign and national conspiracies, natural disasters, and… until we are thoroughly depressed. Then there’s our family. We are tired of one another. Tired of being cooped up with ever present toddlers or mad teenagers. Tired of trying to work from home with so many interruptions. Tired of our spouse. Tired of loneliness. Tired of our selves.
We have no idea what tomorrow will bring. Uncertainty becomes a breeding ground for fear.
Scary thoughts of “What if..” plague us.
In this time of uncertainty we long for a safe harbor, a shelter. We want to trust God but it’s so hard. How do we get to the place in which our issues and fears are seen from the perspective of God’s shelter? Come join us as we find fresh eyes to see how our Almighty Father God wants to provide for us and encourage us in this difficult season.
Anglican Women Enjoy Spirit-Filled Retreat
This article was originally shared December 2019.
By Catherine O. Jones, St. Philip’s Anglican Church, Charleston
As in years past, the blessed haven that is Saint Christopher welcomed sisters in Christ from throughout the diocese to an inspiring weekend, October 25 to 27, 2019. The Anglican Women’s Retreat, with the theme “Gift and Giver: Life by The Spirit,” offered rich, encouraging, and challenging teaching by the Rt. Rev. Mark Lawrence, Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina, as well as worship, music, workshops, fellowship, rest, and refreshment.
Planned and carried out by Diocesan Women’s President, Patricia Smith, and board members Sunny Walker, Mary Kauser, Anne Walton, Lynn Allen, Tracy Sutphin, Cathy Jacobs, Cynthia, Hiott, Janet Stoda, and Joyce Grabovski, it was a time full of blessings. The Rev. Rich Giersch led music and worship each day as old and new friends joined in praising God. Leaders and staff at St. Christopher with many volunteers helped to create a time of spiritual renewal and joyful fellowship.
Powerful teaching came right away. Bishop Lawrence presented a vivid introduction to the third person of the Trinity: the Holy Spirit. Who is He? How is He known? What is His role? Pointing to Old and New Testament scripture, especially Christ’s life, teachings, promise, and the fulfillment at Pentecost, questions were answered.
The Bishop highlighted examples of the Spirit’s work in the book of Acts, in the epistles, and today. Then he presented his own “credentials”—personal experiences as the Spirit of Truth changed his life and the lives of others—miracles from yesterday and today! He shared recommended readings and unforgettable quotes such as Charles Spurgeon’s “I looked to Jesus and in flew the Holy Spirit.”
Bishop Lawrence detailed the gifts of the Spirit that the Lord wants to give to all believers, how each is seen and applied. He referred to Christ’s words in the gospels, especially John chapter 14 and in Luke’s Book of the Acts of the Apostles, Paul’s letters in Romans (chapters 8 and 12) and in First Corinthians (chapter 12.) He noted that joy is found in discovering and using what is one’s true gift. There may be combinations of gifts, too—literally thousands of possibilities! “All gifts,” said the Bishop, “are to point to the Lord, the giver, and are for the building up of the body—the Church.”
All sessions, being undergirded with the prayer, “Come, Holy Spirit,” the Bishop continued with teachings on the fruit of the spirit and how fruit must be cultivated—removing bad influences and replacing them with good. He spoke of the importance of forming holy habits of life, referring to Paul’s letter to the Philippians and to Peter’s “Letter of Love.” He urged everyone to ask for God’s help in discerning gifts, nurturing fruit and for these to be seen in the Church—her clergy, the diocese, each parish, and each Christian. All teachings were sprinkled with delightful humor, memorable stories, and the caring of a true shepherd. The Bishop was gracious in always highlighting the gifts of many women from yesterday and today, including those this group knows and loves, such as his dear wife, Allison, and daughter, Chelsea. As listeners looked around the large group, each recognized many who demonstrate the Spirit’s gifts in their daily lives. Suzy McCall was there. How many lives have been and are being saved through her missions of mercy! Bishop Lawrence praised clergy and laypeople who demonstrate gifts for the glory of God and His Church. His listeners nodded, smiled, and laughed as his words brought familiar faces and scenes to mind.
There was much happy sharing, too, in the opening “Getting to Know You” game and the diverse, artistic, and helpful workshops. There was peace and comfort in the prayers and worship, joy in the music and fellowship, education in nature and everywhere, refreshment in walks on the beach, and nourishment for body, mind and spirit. As hoped for by Patricia Smith, the retreat was indeed helpful, healing, holy, and (at times) hilarious. It was a blessed time. Thanks be to God!
By Catherine O. Jones, St. Philip’s Anglican Church, Charleston
(Image above by Lisa Greenslit)
Overheard at the Anglican Women’s Conference
There was a keen sense of excitement and joy throughout our recent Women’s Conference weekend. God touched and healed women in personal ways, and holy moments happened in small groups and in walks along the beach. A key focus of the weekend was instruction on the gifts and fruit of the spirit, and the Titus 2 command. Here are comments from some of the women in attendance:
“Through the Bishop’s testimonies, we learned the ways the Holy Spirit works through the gifts, as we release them, how He can clearly direct us to our place of service in the body, and unmistakably reprove us, when needed. These all magnified the bigness and creativity of our God.”
“During the opening prayer, in my small group, I experienced a definite warming in my chest and recognized it as a touch of the Holy Spirit.”
“During Soaking Prayer—although no one was praying over me or laying hands on me, at the time—I felt a heat pour down over my head.”
“The weekend was life changing. I have been suffering silently with depression, and the Holy Spirit impressed on me my desperate need for fellowship. I also came to recognize my spiritual gift.”
“I am struggling to have victory over an addiction. The insights on developing ‘holy habits’ really encouraged me in my journey.”
“I felt so blessed and honored that the Bishop would share personal stories about how the Holy Spirit has demonstrated His love and direction over the years. His stories had wonderful illustrations and
always had a point.”
“I went on a walk along the beach, pleading for God to give me some sign of His presence. As I walked, my eyes fell upon two random pieces of wood in the shape of the cross. That really spoke to me of His love. He heard my prayer.”
Four Reasons Why We Need Women’s Retreats
By Lori Hatcher
“I can’t be gone for a whole weekend. Who will take the kids to soccer?”
“My husband hates it when I’m gone. It’s not worth the hassle.”
“It’s out of my comfort zone and a little scary.”
We have a hundred reasons why we shouldn’t go to the women’s retreat. Some years the voices win out, and we stay home. Later, when we hear the glowing reports from others about how wonderful it was, we feel a pang of regret, but it doesn’t last long. “Oh well,” we say, “maybe next year.” Other times we make the extra effort, and we’re the ones sharing happy stories and telling how glad we are that we attended.
I’ve been a Christian for over 30 years, and I’m a firm believer in women’s retreats. Here are a few reasons why, with accompanying evidence from the Scripture in case you need extra persuasion.
Why We Need Women’s Retreats:
1. Because it’s hard to hear God’s voice above the noise of everyday life.
When is the last time you sat before God without a To Do list hanging over you, a pile of laundry the size of Texas Stadium in the background, or family members pressing in on all sides? If you can’t remember, you need to attend a retreat.
“To retreat” means to leave our normally occupied positions and go to a place of safety, quiet, and seclusion. By going to a retreat, we physically remove ourselves from life’s distractions, the call of chores, and the demands of people in order to make space for God. If you think you’re less spiritual because you struggle to hear from God in the cacophony of your daily life, be encouraged. Even Jesus recognized the value and need to get away.
“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed” (Mark 1:35).
2. Because we need each other.
Faith is contagious. Just like a virulent virus, it passes from person to person through close contact. Today’s busy world allows little time for women to share faith stories, pray together, and hear biblical messages written with women in mind.
As we consider and apply God’s Word together, we learn from each other’s varied backgrounds, experiences, and insights. The better we understand God, the stronger our faith becomes. Then we can strengthen others. Hearing other women’s testimonies about God’s faithfulness helps me realize that God will also take care of me. Hebrews 10:25 spotlights the value of mutual encouragement and warns us not to neglect corporate worship: “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another.”
3. Because meeting together spurs us on to “love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24).
The Greek word for “spur on” is paroxusmus, which means to stir someone up. It has negative connotations, such as stirring up disagreement, but in this passage, it underscores the fact that meeting together as believers helps us love and serve God and each other better.
4. Standing side by side with our sisters in Christ, and worshipping, praying, and learning about our precious Savior makes us stronger.
When I join a group of women singing praise songs to God, I experience a taste of what Heaven’s going to be like when we’re gathered around his throne. When I sit with my sisters and open God’s Word, the insights I gain as we study together add weight and credence to its truth. When I pray for others, and they pray for me, I know I’m not alone, no matter how heavy my burden is. Some years their faith strengthens me, and other years my faith strengthens them. Together we bear each other’s burdens.
For these and many other reasons, I place a high priority on women’s retreats.
When my children were young, it took a great deal of planning and preparation to be away from my family. I’d prepare meals in advance, swap carpool duties, and cash in spend-the-night favors. Some years were financially challenging, and I had to find creative ways to finance my getaways. I’d save my birthday money, squirrel away coupon savings, or apply for scholarships. Other years I’ve struggled spiritually and had to push myself to go even though I didn’t want to. I’d invite a friend to join me so I couldn’t back out or commit to carpool with friends. On every occasion, I returned refreshed, strengthened, inspired, and closer to the Lord and my sisters in Christ.
I’ve never regretted attending a retreat, but I’ve often regretted not attending. If you’ve never attended a retreat, or you haven’t in a while, why not make plans to attend one? You’ll be glad you did.
This article originally appeared on Crosswalk.com https://bit.ly/2KisOlR.
Lori Hatcher is the author of several devotional books, including Hungry for God … Starving for Time, Five-Minute Devotions for Busy Women , which won the 2016 Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year award. Her most recent book, Refresh Your Faith – Uncommon Devotions from Every Book of the Bible is due out in the spring of 2020. She loves to help busy women connect with God in the craziness of everyday life. You’ll find her pondering the marvelous and the mundane on her blog, Hungry for God. . . Starving for Time . Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter (@LoriHatcher2), or Pinterest (Hungry for God).