By Maddy Vitale
Women of all faiths from Ocean City are invited to a one-day women’s conference that organizers say will forge bonds and new friendships between people of all religions.
“We realize we will have all these different people together from all these different churches, but it has been wonderful. We are all on the same page. It really has been nice,” said Jennifer Shirk, co-organizer and member of Ocean City New Jersey Women of Faith.
The conference, titled “Living on Purpose For Him,” is centered around connecting women through Christ and God. The featured speaker, Veirdre Jackson, was selected after members of a congregation saw her speak and thought she would have a lot to bring to Ocean City, organizers explained.
The program will be held Saturday, March 30, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Ocean City Tabernacle, 550 Wesley Ave. Registration starts at 8:30 a.m. The cost is $20 per person. Lunch is included and will be provided by Yianni’s Cafe.
Registration may be done online by March 15 at www.ocnjwof.blogspot.com. For more information, email OCNJWOF@gmail.com
Shirk, of Ocean City, who is also an author and president of the Ocean City Free Public Library Board of Trustees, said the year-long journey to organize the conference through OCNJWOF has been incredible.
She belongs to Coastal Christian Church, while co-organizer, Phyllis Martinson, is a member of the First Presbyterian Church.
The two have been friends since the days when Shirk was a member of Martinson’s congregation.
Martinson and some members of her church brought the idea of a women’s conference, and the specific speaker, to fruition.
“It is really nice that the program is for all denominations and even for women who have no church family,” Shirk noted. “What has been interesting from my perspective is meeting the women from other churches. Every church has something different to offer.”
She said from food cupboards to clothing drives and even counseling for people recovering from addiction, churches have each made their imprint in the community.
“There are so many nice things that maybe other people don’t know they can get plugged into,” Shirk added. “We want to make sure that people who go to the conference are aware of church programs and outreach efforts in the community.”
More than half of Ocean City’s churches will be represented at this year’s conference. The hope is that the interest in the organization will spread to the remainder of churches in the community. There are approximately 13.
Both Shirk and Martinson said they hope attendees stay the entire day. Jackson is going to give three talks, but each one builds upon the other. Jackson is an award-winning educator, entrepreneur and spiritual advocate.
However, if someone can’t stay, they will still be able to take away valuable information from one or two presentations.
Martinson said she is so excited about the conference.
“Our hope is for the auditorium filled with women will seek and strengthen their faith, grow closer to Jesus, and to each other,” she emphasized.
The program was a long time in the making, Martinson added.
The idea originated with her church in 2013. Two programs were organized, but they were specific to Martinson’s church.
In 2017 she said they got the notion to open it up to all the churches in the community.
A year and 10 meetings later, the OCNJWOF members are putting the finishing touches on what they hope will be a memorable experience for the area women.
“This is the first event, and we are hoping that it will be a yearly thing,” Martinson said. “We want everyone to join together in fellowship.”