The Women of Virtue programme, founded and organised two years ago by the British Union Conference Women’s Ministries director Sharon Platt-McDonald, was launched as part of the South England Conference Women’s Ministries programme at the SEC Women’s Ministries retreat in South Croydon, over the weekend 27-29 May.
Over 150 women attended the weekend-long retreat, which wasdesigned to inspire, encourage and educate through workshops and seminars; focusing on improving their physical, mental, spiritual, financial and emotional well-being. SEC Women’s Ministries director, Pastor Maslin Holness, stated that she hopes the Women of Virtue programme would get the women who attended engaged and involved in mission and evangelism.
But, these women of virtue did not just attend lectures, they also had time to invest in themselves and in the Creator by relaxing at the hotel’s swimming pool, going for walks and create new bonds of friendship.
“It is relaxing, and a blessing at the same time. It’s time to come and worship together and to take a break from the busy schedules that we have”, said Norma Zidlekhaya, a member from the Oxford church.
According to the organizers, the Women of Virtue programme was created when concerns about women’s roles in the church, and as mothers, and wives arose. One factor drawn out of this, was that many women do not have the opportunity to address these issues.
Denzel McDonald, husband of Platt-McDonald and one of the few men helping at the retreat, said that women could come together and discuss in confidence areas where they feel their needs have not been met, in terms of spiritual growth and sense of direction.
“Coming together at a women’s retreat like this one, has helped a lot of women unpack their concerns and it is where their worth has been realized”, said McDonald. “They are women of value, as well as women of virtue.”
Dr Olive Hemming, guest speaker from Washington Adventist University, enforced the idea that being a virtuous woman did not mean that a woman could not speak, or that she was oppressed, which are often considered traditional views. Rather, being virtuous means to realize one’s full potential.
“I wanted to make it clear that to be virtuous, if we are evoking the ancient days of virtue, is courage and hope and love and knowledge, all those things, that’s what we’re talking about”, said Hemming.
At the end of the weekend, the women of SEC left the retreat ready to continue God’s work wherever they went, whether at home, at work, or within their churches.