East Texans plan women's conference for Big Sandy

By John Warren

BIG SANDY, Texas--For two years Linda Hardy White of Carrollton, Texas, organized and played host to a conference of Church of God women in the Dallas area.

Now a group of COG ladies has announced plans for a similar conference in 2002 in Big Sandy.

With the encouragement of Mrs. White, this group of women has taken on the responsibility of sponsoring a conference inspired by Mrs. White's conferences in the Dallas area in 2000 and 2001.

Melodee Overton of Hawkins is one of the women involved in the planning.

"Hopefully we have dealt with a lot of the hurts and crises that church women have experienced," she said, "and now we are ready to move forward to be confident and successful Christians. Maybe we will be able to give answers to some of the problems."

Mrs. Overton hopes Mrs. White will be involved in the Big Sandy conference even though it is not sponsored by Mrs. White or the International Bible Learning Center, for which Mrs. White has served as a regent.

"We hope she will be available to give a presentation," said Mrs. Overton.

Nancy Francis of Big Sandy, who attended the first conference in Dallas, looks forward to the Big Sandy get-together, scheduled for the spring.

"I got a lot of information and inspiration out of that first conference," Mrs. Francis said. "I am hoping this conference will focus on a how-to approach for women--how women are already letting their light shine in their community--and maybe some of us will see ways we can join in."

Mrs. Francis sees several benefits to an East Texas conference.

"There is the typical iron sharpening iron you receive with this one-on-one type of interaction and fellowship," she said. "Also, the topics and information encourage and inspire you to grow on a personal level."

The conference is set to begin Friday evening, March 1, and run through Sunday, March 3. Friday evening will be a time of registration and fellowship.

Mrs. White told The Journal she has "encouraged other women to step forward and sponsor regional conferences, so I am delighted that women in the Big Sandy congregation are making plans to hold one in 2002. There are many new voices that need to be heard, and a new vanguard of leadership among women needs to be established."

Mrs. White talked about her first conference, in 2000.

"I had a twofold goal in organizing for IBLC [the International Biblical Learning Center, a Sabbatarian Christian organization Mrs. White at the time chaired] the first women's conference among independent Sabbatarians: one of preserving our rich heritage of Sabbatarian belief and one of serving as a catalyst for growing through education."

Mrs. White approached the other regents of the IBLC (all male) about sponsoring an educational conference just for women.

"They couldn't have been more enthusiastic," she said. "I also asked for and received support from a number independent ministries, including Church of God Big Sandy, UCM [United Christian Ministries, Birmingham, Ala.] and CEM [Christian Educational Ministries, Tyler, Texas]."

COG Big Sandy pastor Dave Havir "even said that he wanted to sit in the back of our conference and just listen, and [Worldwide Church of God elder] Herman Hoeh encouraged me to go forward, even though at the time one of the corporate orgs was telling women not to attend."

The primary purpose of Mrs. White's conferences, she said, has been to "educate women about biblically, as opposed to humanly, defined roles of teaching and reaching out to other women."

She also wanted to make sure those who attended had fun too, she said, "and were pampered a little during the conferences."

The theme of the 2002 Big Sandy conference will be "Confident Christian Women," said Mrs. Overton.

Included are to be presentations on spiritual growth, women of the Bible, older women's concerns, marriage enrichment, wise choices for teens and "Who Are We Responsible For?"

Events will also include meals, workshops, discussions about books.

The cost for the weekend will $50 per person, $75 for two or $100 for three from the same family. For more information call (800) 946-5545, or call Mrs. Overton at (903) 769-9219 or Kim Skelton of White Oak, Texas, at (903) 295-2809.

The Church of God Big Sandy plans to post information soon on its Web site,

The roster of presenters is not yet final.

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