Women's ministry group offers a tropical retreat at Ross church

| Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, 9:02 p.m.

Women from North Hills Community Baptist Church in Ross Township have planned a pleasant reminder of warm days in the sun.

The women's ministry group has created just that kind of event. A “Sea Escape” retreat for women will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 9 at the church in Ross Township. It will be a time for Bible study, reflection and renewal.

Elissa Williams, one of the leaders of the women's ministry, which in its present form is only 3 months old, said she considers this retreat to be a great way of presenting its work to the community.

“The retreat is open to women of all ages,” Williams said. “This is the first women's retreat ever (at the church).”

Last summer, Jo Ann Claus, a longtime church member, said, several women felt called to women's ministry. Claus, now 59, had joined the congregation when she was 7 years old.

“Seven women brainstormed, and we really clicked,” said Claus, of Hampton Township, of this effort to revitalize the women's ministry.

“We planned a calendar of events, a theme and our mission statement.”

And CORE was born. The initials stand for “Courageous, Overjoyed, Righteous, Encouragers.” And the women have dedicated themselves, according to the ministry's mission statement: “With Christ as our CORE, we help women build friendships, encourage women in spiritual growth and reach out to women in our community with the love of Jesus.”

The organization kicked off its activities with a fall dessert event and a Christmas brunch. Each time, the number of participants grew.

Williams, 31, of West Deer Township, said she is pleased that the group is gathering momentum.

“In the dead of winter, everyone needs a little sunshine,” she said.

The February retreat will use the “Seaside Escape” retreat kit produced by Group Publishing Co., a ministries resource group out of Loveland, Colo.

The beach theme will be carried through music, decorations, a Bible study of the story of Sarah and Hagar, a journal workbook and the making of a craft that will hold significant memories of the day. The seven sessions will be interspersed with worship and praise songs.

A “tropical” lunch also will be served. Men from the church will dress in jeans and muscle shirts and act as waiters/lifeguards, Claus said.

“We're not having lobster,” Williams said. “I wish.”

Instead, there will be fruit kabobs, finger foods, sandwiches and more.

The backdrop of the stage will be painted with a beach scene as seen from outside a window. Inside, there will be beach chairs and umbrellas.

“We haven't decided what to do with the sun,” said Williams, admitting that the group had considered using heat lamps.

The group, she said, hopes to attract 30 women to this vacation-Bible-school-style event for adults.

If successful, the women will plan for one or two retreats a year, in addition to their once-a-month get-togethers.

Claus remembers earlier times when women met to wrap bandages, elect officers and listen to speakers.

“But that's not the way modern-day women do ministry,” she said.

The transformed group is trying to offer something for every woman in the church.

“Our youngest member is 23, and (the oldest) is in her late 70s,” Williams said.

“It's a broad range of women. Anything that has a wide range, we do.”

Dona S. Dreeland is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. She can be reached at ddreeland@tribweb.com or 724-772-6353.

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