By Rev. Dr. Patricia Turner-Olds
Selected women of Faith Community Church are rising! More than a dozen years ago, Rev. Patricia Gould-Champ, pastor of the church, founded Women R.I.S.E. (Respect, Integrity, Success, Empowerment). The goal and mission of R.I.S.E. are effectuated through the content of modules of each of the four components led by volunteer facilitators and workshop presenters. Sacred space is created for women to engage in honest and intimate dialogue: sharing of life challenges, faith formation and spiritual development and practical skills for building self-esteem, financial management confronting life struggles, conflicts and trials. These experiences serve to enhance self-respect, foster integrity, support personal success and empower them with resilience.
It has been my delight to be one among the educators, ministers of the gospel and other helping professionals who shared their skills and talents with these women. Each year I have attended the Women R.I.S.E. graduation exercise. Listening to the two-minute speeches of the nine graduates this fall impacted me more this year than in years past. I listened and watched nine beautiful women share, with confidence, well-articulated reflections about their R.I.S.E. experiences and journeys. Not only did we celebrate every one of their presentations, but I was particularly and joyfully overwhelmed and tearful to hear each of them express how much the two workshops that I facilitated – masking and self-esteem – had impacted their being, enhanced their personhood and made a difference in their lives mentally and spiritually. I am happy to have had a role in empowering these women to rise to another plateau as leading women today. My prayer is always, “may the work that I do speak for me,” as I seek to do as Dr. Katie Cannon advises, “tell the Great Story, live the Great Story for Thine is the kingdom, power and glory!”