Coming Together—Day 1, July 18
On Wednesday, July 18, almost 2,000 Presbyterian women (and a few men) gathered in Orlando, Florida. After picking up totebags, participants began exploring the River of Hope. Activities, meet-ups, shopping and much more kicked off the event.
Opening the Gathering
By Jessica Reid
“Oh God, we welcome you into this place, into our hearts, into our minds. We are your children.”
Those and other words of faith faded across two giant video screens during the official opening of the 2012 Churchwide Gathering of Presbyterian Women. The plenary took place on the evening of Wednesday, July 18. It followed an afternoon of registration for participants and happy reunions for friends who traveled from across the country and around the world for the event.
Powerful music served as a soundtrack for the video which played in a massive ballroom at the Gaylord Palms Hotel and Convention Center. The music ended in a crescendo with the lights dimmed, leaving the nearly 2,000 Presbyterian Women and their families, friends and ecumenical guests in darkness for several heartbeats. The silence was broken by a solitary bagpipe player as a spotlight shone on Samantha Reyes, a member of the Churchwide Coordinating Team and representative of Racial Ethnic Young Women Together. Samantha carried a single, lit candle and began the procession. Read more.
"Beautiful to behold"
By Sharon Dunne Gillies
“I’ve been praying you here,” Jan Richardson said, beginning her sermon during the opening plenary on the evening of Wednesday, July 18. “I’ve been praying you here as the months, weeks, days and finally hours counted down. Thank you for coming.”
She then invited Gathering participants to reflect on another warm blessing and greeting between women: the one between Elizabeth and Mary in Luke 1:39–45. Jan reflected on what this exchange meant to Mary—“young Mary, pregnant Mary, unmarried Mary”—who had just offered her “audacious yes” to becoming the mother of the Messiah. Jan held her hands out in front of her, reenacting the way Elizabeth blessed Mary. Read more.
I had never been to a PW gathering before and I am hooked, it was one of the most wonderful experiences of my life in which I was enriched by knowledge, words of wisdom, so many wonderful women, and great food in a great atmosphere. I can see where woman who have difficulty walking would have been put off by the facility as it was very large but had just about everything you could ask forthe rest of us. Plus if you have never been to the Holy land experience or Disney World was an added bonus being in Florida. I thank God every day for that wonderful experience and will see everyone again in Minnesota because I really did learn so much that made me want to learn more and share with others.
I'll never set foot/walker in Gaylord palms. It isn't elder or handicap convenient. I loved every Plenary session ,workshop and other activities . I particularly liked the Spirituality Center.,Horizon's boat Making This was my 9th.Gathering, and it's still a refreshing experience. I was glad my daughter could come \, her children are now on their own, so she's free to take some time for herself . Please be more careful chodsing a Convention Center in MN . Several ladies from my Church would liked to have attended, but couldn't afford the trip,Hotel and Registration.