Tennessee Valley is a PresWIC council that understands the theological and covenantal purpose of women’s ministry. Co-chairman Sandy Hartley says, “Our mission is clear: to train and equip presbytery and local women’s leadership, Bible study leaders, and Directors of Women’s Ministries. We train leaders to train and equip others. We encourage these leaders to come to our annual Leadership Training Conference (LT) hosted by CEP for this purpose.”
Cathy Wilson, Women’s Ministry Advisory Sub-Committee Representative for the Mid-America Region, introduces Tennessee Valley PresWIC, comprised of churches from Tennessee and Georgia. Note their purpose and planning that models connectedness among their churches.
Hearing at LT about the Big Picture of who we are as God’s Church, His presence in His people, and as such our purpose and privilege to glorify Him in this world as He extends His Kingdom, was a fabulous foundation for the Mid-America region to then begin discussing who we are and brainstorming what that meant for our women–as a denomination, as a region, as PresWICs and as local church bodies. It was a thrill to watch Tennessee Valley with its rich history and with its diversity of churches, ages, and backgrounds come together as a PresWIC with this big picture in view. During a break at LT, they planned out how they would transfer this vision to the women “back home.” The newer, younger members and their ideas were assimilated into the vision of those on whose shoulders they stand. As an outsider looking in, it was encouraging to see Titus 2 ministry at work, as well as women understanding and living their creation design in God’s body. Because every group is a mix of personalities and views, this is not a smooth road. However, through prayer and an understanding of the big picture and a focus on God’s glory, this group of women are connecting their churches and women in new ways so that God’s church might work connectively to glorify Him and make Him known.
The Tennessee Valley PresWIC was formed soon after the PCA became a denomination in 1973. Like many, the PresWIC had a strong beginning, but weakened with time until there was very little or no PresWIC activity. In 1998, a Tennessee Valley Presbytery CE Chairman called the denominational office (CEP) asking for help in getting a presbytery-wide women’s ministry going again. A steering committee was formed from local church leadership. Martha Lovelady, representing the steering committee, “cast a vision” of being “Christian women united in the Lord” at their first presbytery event, a luncheon. That day, she became a spiritual mother to many who “caught” the vision. So, TN Valley was brought back to life to become a thriving body of Christian women, united in purpose to glorify God in its ministry to women.
This year still finds Tennessee Valley leadership functioning under its mission statement to train and equip local WIC leadership. The annual CEP Leadership Training Conference is a priority to this team. Excited to share what they learned, the program committee applied the 2008 LT training to the purpose of their spring event. “Your Piece of the Big Picture” was a variation of the “Big Picture” theme of the Leadership Training Conference. In her devotional, Sandy Hartley, co-chairman, gave an understanding of women’s ministries placed under three “umbrellas of protection.”
The denominational level of care and concern. The General Assembly placed us under the pro-tection of PCA’s Christian Education and Publications where the office of Coordinator of Women’s Ministries exists. This keeps us all running on the same track.
The protection of the presbytery. Tennessee Valley women know that they have the backing of funds and prayers of their elders. They want a member of presbytery to be present at each meeting. Also “being involved at the presbytery level with women keeps us connected to each other.”
The third level is “the local church session with the teaching and ruling elders giving their protection to the women’s ministry in the church.”
Sandy stated, “I am thankful that we have umbrellas of a denomination, presbytery and local church that provide sound doctrine to our people in our women’s ministries.” What a wonderful overview of the big picture!
A take away idea for PresWICs and local churches!
In order to enhance living covenantally, each church in the Tennessee Valley Presbytery was given a survey sheet to fill out and return to the PresWIC council so that they can compile information on demographics, ministries, Bible studies, and resources to use at their fall meeting. The purpose of this Women’s Ministry Connections Guide is “to be a resource of encouragement through connecting women’s ministries and their leaders.” It should be a helpful tool for knowing the different pieces of Tennessee Valley within the Big Picture!