The Spirit Moves at the Women’s Retreat
Ten women from our parish spent the weekend of Oct. 21-23 at Camp St. Christopher for the annual retreat of the Women of the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina. Held every fall, the spirit-filled weekend draws women from various Anglican parishes in the Lowcountry and beyond. About 85 women came together to worship, sing, attend workshops and lectures, take nature walks, and enjoy great food and fellowship.
St. Philip’s talented worship team provided the music, with Joanna Macmurphy leading the singing and playing the guitar, Georgia Bell jamming on the keyboard, and Pam Dixon playing the flute. Each of the three main sessions began with about 20 minutes of robust praise music. The St. Philip’s musicians took the ladies through old favorites and also taught them new songs.
Joanna Macmurphy said she felt the weekend was a big success. “It’s been fun to see people from all over the diocese that I haven’t seen in such a long time and just to be in this special place,” she said. “I think God has really done a big work in a lot of people’s lives.”
The keynote speaker was the Rev. Dr. Sandi Kerner, chaplain and director of The Prayer Center at the camp. Kerner’s talks were based on John 16:33, comforting words shared by Jesus with his disciples shortly before his arrest. The repeated message of “take Heart, for I have overcome the world” reminded the women to turn all of their worries and concerns over to Jesus Christ.
Kerner shared a list of what Jesus has overcome for us: anxieties and cares; hatred, persecution and betrayal; sin and temptation; spiritual forces of darkness; sorrow and death. In small groups after each lecture, women shared deeply with their sisters in Christ about what was happening in their own lives. Many said the support of their small group gave them renewed hope.
More renewal and healing came Saturday afternoon during a Soaking Prayer session in the chapel. Participants also had the opportunity to receive one-on-one prayer ministry. Many tears were shed, as chains were broken and burdens were lifted by the Lord’s presence. At Sunday’s worship service, numerous women shared testimonies of how their lives had been changed.
“I have been carrying a tremendous burden of pain for years,” one woman testified through her tears. She said that the one-on-one prayer ministry of the Rev. Henrietta Rivers (St. John’s Chapel, Charleston) had delivered her from anger which had been causing her to make a series of bad choices for 20 years. “I feel like a new person, thanks be to God.”
Rivers, chaplain for the Diocesan Women’s Board, noticed that the women looked lighter and more radiant after attending the prayer and worship services. “They walked out feeling seen, that God saw them and responded to them,” she said.
Sunny Walker (Church of the Resurrection, North Charleston), president of the Women’s Ministry Board, had been planning the retreat for a year. She and Sandi chose the theme based on surveys from past attendees, who said they wanted to learn more about prayer and healing. Sunny felt that the teaching was very well received.
“Sandi was very real with what she said. There was lots of scripture, but she related it back to the topic,” Sunny said. And so did Sunny and the board members, who planned a series of surprises for the retreatants, giving them everything from pins, candy, bookmarks, and door prizes, all based on the Take Heart theme.
“I love the heart shape,” Sunny said. “We just took that theme and went with it. Everywhere I looked, there was a heart."