The women’s ministry of St. Mary’s Community Church is hosting its annual conference Sept. 20, open to both women and men, but it will have a different format from past years.
In the past, all attendees gathered in the church annex and listened to consecutive lectures. Each speaker took a different approach but discussed the same Bible verse. Sarah Governor, who is organizing the conference for her third year, wanted to shake things up.
“When I sit through a seminar, after 20 minutes, I’ve reached my saturation point,” Governor said. “This time, they will be up and moving and even have a break in there to socialize a bit.”
After an opening session of praise and worship music, attendees will rotate in break-out groups, so that everyone hears the same three, 20-minute lectures, but at different times. Each of these lectures will conclude with five minutes for questions, and another five minutes to fill out an evaluation of the speaker.
The common thread among the speakers this year will not be a Bible verse, but a conceptual theme, “Youth: Our Blessing, Their Story.”
The first three speakers are David Russell, a police officer; Harold Bennet, a Brandon-based attorney; and Mary Thomas Mathis, a Plant City commissioner and assistant principal at Marshall Middle School. Each will address the theme in ways for which they are professionally equipped.
Russell will give an informational talk about the language and terms today’s youth commonly use.
“Sometimes, they could be standing right next to us and we won’t even know what they’re talking about,” Governor said.
Bennet will inform parents about the process of getting an attorney to represent their child, in the case that their child should need one.
Mathis and Governor have been friends and colleagues for years.
“We go back,” Mathis said. “That has been a relationship that has grown over 15 years or so.”
As a leader at a local middle school, Mathis will talk to parents about what happens when their children reach middle school. She said she might also discuss Common Core to inform parents of what it is and how testing for Florida Standards will work this year.
“If a child can make it through middle school, he can make it through anything, Governor said. “Those are the toughest years for them.”
After the first three rotating seminars, all attendees will gather in one place for the final speaker: Yvonne Stephens, an evangelist from St. Mary Primitive Baptist Church in Bealsville. Stephens will tie the thematic lectures together and talk about how to raise children in a way that honors God.
At the end of the conference, guests will have an opportunity to win door prizes, and everyone will receive a bagged lunch to-go.
“They’re our children, and of course they are a blessing to us,” Governor said. “They have a story. They don’t know what’s going to happen at the end of the road, but because we’re older and have some wisdom, we can let them know what possibly could happen if they continue down the path that some of them are headed.”
IF YOU GO
WHEN: 8 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 20
WHERE: St. Mary’s Community Church, 904 E. Renfro Street, Plant City
COST: Free, no reservations required
CONTACT: Sarah Governor, (863) 644-4623 or [email protected]
Contact Catherine Sinclair at [email protected].