G.R.O.W. Ministries Hosted its 7th Annual One-Day Young Women’s Conference

G.R.O.W. Ministries held its Annual One-Day Young Women’s Conference on Saturday, April 14th, 2018 at St. Thomas Orthodox Church, Levittown, NY. By God’s grace, the ministry was hosting its 7th One-Day Conference. The theme of the conference was “Called to Rise” based on Isaiah 60:1, “Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.” Many women came from all over of the diocese (Boston to Virginia) to participate in the conference on a beautiful Saturday morning. This year there was even representation from Kentucky and Texas! The day began with prayer, icebreaker and the Presidential Address by H.G. Zachariah Mar Nicholovos, Diocesan Metropolitan of the Northeast American Diocese. His Grace spoke about the essential need of Christians to work for the benefit of all in order to rise to the Glory of Christ.

G.R.O.W. Ministries offered participants three workshops this year and the ladies were able to attend two out of the three. The three workshops were: Fake News led by Fr. Vijay Thomas and Mrs. Anu Geevarghese; The Waiting Room led by Fr. Gheevarghese John and Mrs. Bessie Mathew; and It Takes Two led by Mrs. Ceena Mathew.The purpose of the workshops was not only to provide the Orthodox perspective but to give practical advice that can be implemented in their daily lives. The ministry’s main goal is to address the needs of the women in the diocese with the foundation of the Orthodox faith and every year the ministry strives to achieve that goal.

In the Fake News workshop, Fr. Vijay and Mrs. Anu discussed in a world of information overload, ideal imagery, unreasonable expectations, and demanding home & work lives, it is hard to discern which voices and messages should help us navigate through life. Although the world preys on our naturally sinful and weak state, the truth is found in the scriptures to not conform to this world but to live in our true nature, which is in the perfect image of God.Fr. Vijay and Mrs. Anu shared that the key to rebalancing ourselves and priorities is to renew our minds daily and as frequently as possible, focusing on our true nature as God’s special creation and to be in constant communion with Him.

The Waiting Room workshop led by Fr. Gheevarghese and Mrs. Bessie emphasized that instead of seeing waiting as a passive experience, we should see waiting as active. While we wait, we should serve. The workshop focused on the three stages of waiting: the first breath, the waiting period and the breakthrough.While we are waiting, we can concentrate on several things: His Word, to trust God, CHOOSE to be content, give thanks and to be STILL. Fr. Gheevarghese and Mrs. Bessie encouraged everyone to rely on the 4 E’s: embrace, enjoy, engage and encounter.

Though we live in a day and age where there are many means of communication, there is increasingly lack of communication, especially within families. In the It Takes Two workshop, Mrs. Ceena offered practical ways and guidelines on improving communication between parents and children, between spouses, and general tips on how to improve all relationships by mastering the art of listening.The session heavily emphasized active listening which is a major aspect of communication, and reminded us that we must improve our communication with God, which will help our relationships as well.

The morning finished with hymns, photo session and the exciting news that G.R.O.W. will be hosting an overnight camp in Summer 2019 at HTRC! The afternoon began with a workshop followed by group discussion led by women lay leaders.Since the groups were separated by age, it allowed for the ladies to connect with their peers. The group leaders discussed that we are all called to RISE despite the challenges that we may face. Many ladies were able to share and give insight into their personal lives. A new segment was introduced this year called HERstory, in which a young lady shared an obstacle in her life and is relying on her faith to overcome it.Mrs. Susan Kokura, a wife and mother, spoke about dealing with her mother’s debilitating Alzheimer's disease and her father’s flesh eating bacteria contracted in India, while explaining how her faith and church kept her strong throughout the duration of her trip. Afterwards, all the ladies participated in an activity in which bracelets were made to donate to Hope’s Door in honor of Ms. Ashley Samuel.Ms. Ashley passed away a year ago on a mission trip to India. She funded her trip by selling bracelets. To honor her memory and her passion to serve, G.R.O.W. kicked off this first service event, and we intend to do a community service event every year in honor of Ms. Ashley.

The conference concluded with a spiritual reflection led by Mrs. Ceena Mathew focusing on the Good News of the season - Christ is Risen!; the question now is ‘Are you risen?’ The ladies were invited to quietly reflect on areas in their lives in which they feel the need to rise. In a world where darkness spreads faster than light, we are called to be the light of Christ, and to preach His Gospel through our lives. It was emphasized that we need to be strengthened by the Holy Spirit in order to rise. Many women knelt down in prayer, and as they rose, they were encouraged to leave behind their worries and go forward with hope, as they heard the words, “Rise by the power of God”, similar to what we hear in the service of Pentecost, which was a great ending to the conference, themed, ‘Called to Rise!’Prayer cards were distributed to all the participants during spiritual reflection. G.R.O.W. Ministries is blessed to be a growing ministry, but nothing is possible without God, and everyone’s prayers, love and support. Please continue to keep the ministry in your daily prayers.

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