Strong Sisters Share Stories on the Mountain 

by C. L. Stumb, Southern Conference

“The world needs us to be who we are,” Rev. Mary Schaller Blaufuss (D.Min.) said to women at the Southern Region Women’s Retreat / Strong Sisters’ Stories. “The world doesn’t always allow us to live up to our potential.” Eighty-eight persons from four conferences in the Southeast Region of the UCC journeyed to Blowing Rock Conference Center, as if on a spiritual pilgrimage, seeking new heights in their lives. ([FL-12, SCC-3, SEC-14, SOC-51, NonConf-2 plus 6 nonparticipants {aka men/family}]. There were 5 one day sisters.)

Nine short story sessions and three plenary story sessions offered a rich plethora of thoughts, resources, and motivational prompts.  In a workshop titled “Is This It?”  Rev. Tamara Franks offered her stories of strength, listening to God’s voice as one vocation led into another and yet another … each time wondering if “this is it?”  One white-haired women said in discussion with her neighbor, “I am not done yet. There is still work to do even at my age.”

Blaufuss introduced conference attendees to the word “Kairos,” an Ancient Greek word meaning “the right, critical or opportune moment.” She spoke of God’s time, and “how we can do God’s talk, and walk in the midst of life’s complexities.” She outlined a hopeful message from chaos theory for life that can be random and complex. A metaphor of the butterfly effect, she explained, is an idea that says a small change can make much bigger changes happen; that one small incident can have a big impact in the future.

Women heard formal greetings and heralded fun-filled “Moments after Dark.” They brought books of hope for two Asheville schools in a related missionary project, and browsed books by three Southern Region authors.  The two Asheville, N.C. schools benefitting from the book project are Emma Elementary School and Johnston Elementary School.

They responded with a generous offering to be divided between the SOC Disaster Relief funds (for recent hurricanes) and the National Farm Worker Ministry. A communion table gathered participants one final time, and Betty Griffin reports that “a successful Silent Auction will support the next SRWR.”

Pictures of Southeast Conference group and Uplands group. Picture of Martha Lammers presenting her story on being a missionary to Japan beginning in 1948. Also picture of weaving women made to show connections.