Conference takes new look at single living

Published 6:00 am Thursday, January 26, 2006

An annual singles conference sponsored by the Lincoln CountyBaptist Association is reaching out this year in an effort to meetthe needs of more people living alone.

The past three conferences have primarily targeted divorcees,said the Rev. Talmadge Smith, association president. This year’sday-long seminars include break-out sessions for singles who havenever married, singles divorced or separated, widowers and singleparents.

“This year we’re branching out and trying to tackle more aspectsof being single,” Smith said. “A lot of people in these areas arestruggling with these issues.”

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The Led By The Spirit Singles Conference will be held Feb. 4from 9 a.m. to noon at Easthaven Baptist Church. The MississippiBaptist Convention Board and First Baptist Church also help sponsorthe event.

Despite the heavy leavening of Baptists involved in thesponsorship and planning of the event, Smith said the conference isnondenominational and designed to appeal to singles in a variety ofcircumstances. Easthaven was chosen as the conference site becauseit is centrally located with good facilities, he said.

Participants in the conference will attend a brief,nondenominational worship and then break into their seminar groups,where guest speakers will guide singles through programs tailoredto their needs.

The singles/never married seminar will be led by Gwen Williams,or “Miss Chocolate.” Williams, who is single, is a talentedmusician and storyteller, Smith said.

“She’s an excellent entertainer and a good leader,” he said.

Dianne Swaim, a professional speaker and the author of “DivorceIn The Church,” will lead the seminar for divorcees and thoseseparated from their spouse. Swaim, once a divorcee, hasremarried.

The session for widowers will be led by the Rev. Farley Earnest,hospice chaplain for the South Jackson area. Earnest, a formerminister of senior adults at First Baptist Church of Brandon, hasalso recently remarried.

Dot Day, a counselor for the Copiah County Baptist Association,will be the guest speaker for the single parent seminar.

“Her talent is really family counseling,” Smith said, “but sheis an excellent speaker.”

The goal of the separate seminars is to help singles cope withbeing alone or to deal with the “grief of a solo existence,” hesaid.

Glenn Shows, a singles consultant of the Mississippi BaptistConvention Board in Jackson, said the conference’s theme, “A PowerBehind Oneness,” is to reassure singles that it’s OK to be singleand widowers that continuing on with life is important.

“You do have power. You do have meaning. You are here for apurpose,” Shows said.

Although divorce was targeted in the past three years, Smithsaid it was still important to include in this year’s conferencebecause this seminar provides a different perspective.

“It’s a whole new approach with different teachers,” hesaid.

Preregistration for the conference is not required, but thosewho preregister do receive a discount. The fee is $10 in advanceand $15 at the door.

For more information on the conference or where to purchasetickets, contact Smith at (601) 833-8111.