More than 250 women gathered at Caraway Conference Center and Camp in late October for a weekend of encouragement and reflection upon the truth of who God created them to be – holy, chosen and beloved daughters of the King.
“Holy. Chosen. Beloved.” was the theme of this year’s retreat, which was held Oct. 26-27 and sponsored by the Embrace women’s ministry of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC). The retreat theme was based upon the apostle Paul’s encouragement to the church at Colossae in Colossians 3:12-14.
Lori McDaniel, church initiatives manager for the International Mission Board, was the retreat’s worship speaker. She spoke around the question, “Who am I?”
McDaniel said there are many identities and labels that women put on themselves – friend, mom, wife and more.
“But we must know Him to know how to live holy, chosen and beloved [lives],” McDaniel said, noting that one’s identity must be found in Christ and not in labels that may change.
“A wrong assessment of our identity subtracts God out of our story,” McDaniel said.
In between the main sessions, attendees could choose from among 12 different breakout sessions that addressed a variety of topics from the Book of Colossians. Topics included disciple-making, prayer, forgiveness, identity, holiness and more.
“It’s extremely hard to choose a breakout session – there are so many,” said Kristie Hunnicutt, an attendee from Mill Creek Baptist Church in Monroe, N.C. “This year as soon as I got my book, the first thing I did was start praying and looking at the breakout sessions. You just want to go to all of them.”
Hunnicutt attended a session titled “Taming the Tongue,” led by Ashley Allen, who serves as senior consultant for the BSC’s Embrace women’s ministry.
“Every time I think about taming the tongue I think about the book of James because there is such strong scripture on that,” Hunnicutt said. “(Ashley) just brought to light some other scriptures and how we’re to conduct ourselves through our speech. I’m going to be able to use this when I am teaching and speaking on this topic at church. Now I have some other tools.”
The women also enjoyed a time of fellowship Friday evening through several events offered, including s’mores by a fire pit, board games and delicious desserts from Nothing Bundt Cakes.
Betsy Bolick, founder of Small Enough Ministries, shared a moving testimony Saturday morning about identity and the power of God to heal a “broken” girl.
“Brokenness points to the holiness of God,” Bolick said. “What a mighty God we serve that He doesn’t give us what we want but instead gives us Himself.”
Bolick urged attendees to trust God as they walk along the path He sets before them as holy, chosen and beloved daughters of Christ. Her testimony of how God used a small, broken girl to show His glory, left many in the auditorium in tears.
Following Bolick’s testimony, Kimberly Merida of Imago Dei Church in Raleigh, N.C., and violinist Tasha Via of Journey Church in Raleigh, N.C., led worship to “You’re Worthy of it All.” Attendees echoed in unison, “All of my hopes, all of my fears, all of my wants and all of my years. Everything now, everything then, all my life I resolved. You’re worthy of it all.”
“The Holy Spirit was just in that room,” said Barbara Spence of Dayspring Baptist Church. “I just felt so reminded about how much God loves us. We are so little, and He is so big. He purposed us and He chose us. He wants Himself to be on display through us.”
Many women commented about the event’s atmosphere, which was described as real and authentic. Attendees left with a sense of renewal in who God created them to be and ready to walk in the light in which they have been called.
“(We) got to pull back the onion peel and see the side of people that you don’t normally see, and it’s OK,” Hunnicutt said. “(This weekend) there were real women and real lives. God is a real God, and He can tend to each and every one of our needs.”
At the conclusion of the event, conference organizers announced the date, theme and location of next year’s retreat. The 2019 N.C. Baptist Women’s Retreat will be held Friday and Saturday, Oct. 25-26 at Caraway Conference Center and Camp. The event’s theme is “Abide.”