Ben Hillyer/The Natchez Democrat — Women of Worship steering committee members, front row, from left, Elizabeth Calhoun, Nancy Bowman, Beatrice Owens, Dorothy Sylvester, Dianne Jordan, Susan Smith; back row, Cheryl Givens and Carolyn Ridley welcome women from all walks of life to this year’s second annual conference at Parkway Baptist Church.
Ben Hillyer/The Natchez Democrat — Women of Worship steering committee members, front row, from left, Elizabeth Calhoun, Nancy Bowman, Beatrice Owens, Dorothy Sylvester, Dianne Jordan, Susan Smith; back row, Cheryl Givens and Carolyn Ridley welcome women from all walks of life to this year’s second annual conference at Parkway Baptist Church.

Area women invited to second annual conference

Published 12:05am Sunday, January 12, 2014

In the chaos of everyday life, it’s not difficult to lose your way, but a local Christian conference is offering women an opportunity to refocus their faith and revive their walk with Christ.

The second annual Women of Worship conference’s theme is “Return to Me,” which steering committee member Carolyn Ridley said is taken from 2 Chronicles 30:6-9.

Those verses are part of the story of King Hezekiah and the revival of the church that took place during his reign. In the Bible, Hezekiah called for his people to return to the church because they had strayed.

“That’s really our heart for women,” Ridley said. “For those of us who are with the Lord to come even closer, and for those who have strayed away, to come back. That’s really the heart of this. We want a revival. We want it in our homes, in our marriages, in our children. This is just a call to return to the Lord.

“We’re not about making New Year’s resolutions … but we hope to inspire women this month to just return to a time of devotion to God.”

The conference’s keynote speaker is Alicia Williamson Garcia, a national worship leader, author and recording artist, who was featured at last year’s Women of Worship conference.

The conference’s praise and worship leader will be Derrick Burt, a recording artist, composer and interim worship leader at First Baptist of Natchez.

This year’s conference will be the first without Women of Worship committee member Beth Mallett, who died in September after a battle with pancreatic cancer.

The Women of Worship will honor Mallett on the first day of the conference with a celebration of her life.

“She was so passionate about women and Bible study and about us all being sisters in Christ and loving each other and supporting each other,” said committee member Susan Smith.

Mallett and Smith were friends for approximately eight years before Mallett died, and in that time, Smith said Mallett taught her about what it means to walk God’s path as a Christian woman.

“I attended some of her Bible studies, and she taught me so much about studying the word and becoming a better person and realizing that this world is so temporal,” Smith said. “We get so caught up in the things of this world that we miss what it is all about.

“It’s about your eternity and where you’re going to spend that eternity.”

Also on Friday, speaker Karen Alexander Doyel will be featured at the conference.

After the untimely death of her husband, Doyel, of Lenoir City, Tenn., created a testimony and study titled “Hearing God’s Call,” as well as, “Digging Deeper into God’s Word” and “Joy in All Circumstances,” a study that explores whether it is possible to have joy in all circumstances.

“Out of her loss of her husband, who was a pastor, a ministry was started,” Ridley said. “We wanted Karen to come and talk to the ladies … because Beth’s death was hard for many people to accept, but we also want people to see how out of her dying, life comes.”

In keeping with Mallett’s true spirit, Friday will also be full of laughter and fun.

“Beth’s heart was, ‘We’ve got to have fun,’” Ridley said. “So we will keep it light-hearted too, and there will be lots of laughs.”

The Women of Worship’s ultimate goal, committee member Cheryl Givens said, is to offer a place where women of all walks of life can gather to form a community of worship.

“I think it’s important for Christian women to get together who don’t all go to the same church,” Givens said. “We are a sisterhood, and it’s important that we do things that are just focused on women so we can learn how to support one other.”

The conference is scheduled for Jan. 24-25 at Parkway Baptist Church. A luncheon with Garcia is scheduled for noon Jan. 24 at The Carriage House.

Doors open at 6 p.m., Jan. 24 at Parkway, and the session is from 7-9 p.m.

Doors open at 8 a.m. Jan. 25, and the session is from 8:30 a.m. until noon.

Conference tickets are $20. Luncheon tickets are $20. A ticket that includes the conference and luncheon is $35.

Registration is available online at parkwaybaptistchurch.com.

Ridley said the Women of Worship strive to make the conference inexpensive, but anyone who cannot afford the conference but would still like to attend can contact the Women of Worship to see if other arrangements can be made.

For more information about the conference, call 601-442-7434.

Mallett’s family set up an account for Women of Worship at Regions Bank, so anyone wishing to contribute to the conference could do so in her honor, Ridley said.