Sisters in Spirit: Mother love is the heart of women’s missionsPublished 11:00pm Saturday, March 8, 2014
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At the hearth and in the home, it is the nature of women to nurture without cause for recognition or reward, and it is her nature to love unconditionally and to work tirelessly to provide sustenance and comfort for her family. This kind of love is at the heart of women’s ministries, too – love is its own reward.
Love, prayer and a lot of behind-the-scenes activities are the bread and butter of local women’s ministries, like the group of women at First Baptist Church Brookhaven who put together two big events to support missionaries overseas or the uplifting conferences put on by the Women of the Word Ministries, a collective of faithful women from different denominations, or the women who work in the retail shop, Angels Attic, at the Episcopal Church of The Redeemer, where the funds go to a different local charity each month, such as Hospice Ministries in March and Habitat for Humanity in April.
Pat Butler founded Women of the Word Ministries in March of 2010, and since then she and her organization have been uplifting women with the word of Christ so they might return to their churches and be good spiritual ministers.
“As women, we know our places,” Butler said. “We know our roles and we know how to stay in our lanes. Not all women desire to mount the pulpits. There are numerous roles that women have within our churches as well as without.”
Don’t let Butler’s language here fool you into thinking she means that women should be meek and mild, or seen and not heard. Butler is known for standing up for the right of women in the church to be spiritual ministers.
“Rise up women! And take your rightful places within the Body of Christ. Banish all fear and heed the voice of the Lord and walk in your God-given callings,” Butler said.
Butler’s ministry offers a spring and a fall conference each year, and they host prayer luncheons on a monthly basis. They also give away a scholarship each year.
Theresa Sones heads up the women’s ministries at First Baptist, where she said the women’s ministries has a prayer meeting every Sunday at 5 p.m., every Tuesday at 6:30 a.m. and a Thursday morning Bible study that currently represents about 20 different churches in the area.
Butler and Sones say these prayer and study meetings are all about praying for the leadership of their pastors, community and national leaders.
“In our church we take it upon ourselves to initiate actions that show the pastor our appreciation,” Sones said. She also explained that prayer is the key to everything. She said in their Tuesday morning prayer meetings especially, they pray for the leaders in the church, in the community, in the nation’s capital and “we pray for our troops still overseas. Anything that’s going on in our world or in our community that we feel needs prayer, we pray about it,” Sones said.
For WOW Ministries, prayer and worship at the conferences and study groups is all about re-fueling women with the spirit and challenging each woman to return home and pray for her pastor and minister to fellow members.
“The Women of the Word ministry encourages the ladies to go back to their local churches and assist their local pastors by praying, fasting and mentoring to the younger ladies and children in their local congregations,” Butler said.
Women’s ministries are also known for their fundraisers that earmark money for outreach projects locally and for overseas missions.
Every year the women at First Baptist Church host two big events, “Tis the Season Dessert Banquet and Silent Auction,” during the Christmas season and the “I Love India Garage Sale,” coming up April 5.
Sones, lay person for the church and leader in the women’s ministry, said the auction and the garage sale combine the efforts of women all over the area and the monies go to overseas missionaries that do not fall under the Southern Baptist Convention umbrella for funding.
The Christmas event is for the Casa De Fe Orphanage in Shell, Ecuador. The orphanage was started by Pattie Sue Arnold, a First Baptist Church Brookhaven native who began her mission path to Ecuador through mission trips with members of the church. Sones and Arnold named the orphanage Casa de Fe, “The House of Faith.”
The April garage sale is for Agape Outreach India Missions. Missionaries Sam and Jezy Varghese of India found themselves living in south Mississippi a few years ago, Sones said, when Sam was studying at the Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson and his wife found work in Brookhaven. They visited the church and were immediately part of the family.
“They are such a precious couple,” Sones said, “and so dedicated to bringing the word of Christ to the Lombardi people in India.”
Ministering to the masses is an honorable undertaking and one that the women at the Episcopal Church take seriously on a daily basis with the Angels Attic retail shop nestled just behind the church. The store is open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday. This ministry not only raises money for more than a dozen local charities, it also is providing work for two part-time employees and offering those in need personal and household items for very little money. Sue Minter is part of the group and said the store is the biggest outreach for the church.
“We have a lot of people struggling in our community that want to take care of their families,” Minter said. “But it’s really hard in today’s environment. A mother can come here and dress her children for almost nothing.”
The women with Angels Attic said the store sends a portion of the income to the church’s general fund and whatever needs that arise throughout the year.
“Proceeds go to the church, too,” Minter said, “but, we’ve given away over $11,000 to local charities since 2002.
The Tis the Season Dessert Banquet raised a phenomenal $22,000 last Christmas, and last year’s garage sale brought in $17,000. These are life-sustaining amounts, Sones said. But, she emphasized that it took women from all around the community to make these events successful.
For more information about these ministries, contact:
• The Episcopal Church of Our Redeemer, 230 Monticello St., Angel’s Attic, Dixie Simmons, 601-754-0311.
• First Baptist Church Women’s Ministries, Theresa Sones, 601-833-0974.
• Women of the Word Ministries, Pat Butler, 601-754-1483.