Part of Mount Carmel’s vision is to provide opportunities for our congregation to develop a deep and rich relationship with the Lord. That discipleship piece typically takes place in our small group communities and our 1 with 3 discipleship groups. Occasionally we have larger events that provide a means to reach many people at the same time.

This past weekend Mount Carmel hosted one of those events. Aspire was a one evening retreat-like event for the women of Mount Carmel and the greater Cincinnati area. Over 400 women attended the event, and we heard several great stories that came out of it. Our three women’s ministry leaders, Barb Anderson, Shannon Bacon and Sandy Morganthal wrote some short reflections on what they experienced and observed, from their own, unique point of view. We think you’ll enjoy reading their reflections and learning more about the blessing that occurred for many that evening.

Barb Anderson’s Reflections

Mount Carmel has always been known for our loving hospitality and that was evident at the Aspire event we hosted. Our ladies went over and above taking care of the Aspire team, helping them set up, providing a peaceful space for them to rest and bringing in delicious and healthy food for them to eat. But our ladies also welcomed all attendees who entered our church building with love and kindness, offering them snacks, coffee, tea & water, along with any assistance they needed. It was evident that our church was being the church to all who came through our doors by living out the scripture, John 13:34-35.

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Sandy Morgenthal’s Reflections

Men and women are made so different by God. Men are providers, protectors, pro-creators, pleasure-bringers, and the one who passes on the family name. Women dance in strange places. They bring beauty, color, light, sensitivity, organization, and culture into the world. Together, in praise and worship of God, they bring thunder and lightning felt by all around them.

The Aspire event for women, which Mount Carmel recently hosted, was a great night of praise and worship for all who attended. The music, laughter, and stories shared provided a night to remember. Comments shared with the volunteers who worked tirelessly to make the event a true success included statements such as, “What a blessing, we should do things like this more often,” and, “We had such a wonderful time! What a special time this was.” Most importantly of all, God was honored, praised, and thanked for His living word and loving-kindness to us all. It was truly a time of praise and thanksgiving, and a time to reflect on what serving and honoring Him means.

Our church is truly blessed and enriched by its women, especially those who generously gave of their time, energy and talents; from organizing the event with Aspire, selling and distributing tickets, planning for, preparing, and delivering food, working merchandise tables, and greeting and welcoming, a few women worked very hard for the many who came. They know who they are and deserve our gratitude.

Shannon Bacon’s Reflections

This past Saturday, our women’s event, Aspire, was a success in several ways.
The obvious ways in which we point to success are easy to point out. Our building was full (which also meant that every bathroom was in use during intermission while women waited patiently in line). Women were laughing at the comedian and crying while the speaker shared her story of an incurable genetic disorder. People were hanging around in the foyer and sanctuary demonstrating what I have learned is called “group speak”, when people tell you their thoughts simply by their actions. One woman saw several cousins she had no idea would be in attendance. Another woman needed 2 rows of seats reserved because 23 women from work were coming. We had many women come from local churches. There were several stories like this, and we were encouraged by them.

Another, less thought-of success story was watching those people behind the scenes that were all necessary to pull off this event. While Aspire brought their own team and managed all details of this event, (ticketing, programming, content, flow, merchandise tables, etc.), we had many women (and yes, men – poor guys, being in the same space with almost 400 women is a feat in and of itself!) who made this event what it was.

We had people bringing in food to feed volunteers and the Aspire team for the entire day. We had men taking care of our facilities, making sure tables were set up, chairs were out, signs were hung, table cloths were placed, in the tech booth overseeing the production side of things, and then making sure all of those same things were back in order and clean for church in less than 12 hours after our event ended. We had women who were there for 10-plus hours. We had ladies managing the merchandise tables and greeting. Another woman very graciously offered her time with photography. We had women who hadn’t even officially volunteered who jumped in and helped. We had these same women at the end of the event hanging around and asking how they could help.

On a personal level, I enjoyed sitting around (in our down time, of course) with a very small group of women, a couple of them 20-25 years younger than me, and a couple 20-25 years older than me, and while we listened and were attentive, we also managed things behind the scenes for a time. And while we did that, I found that I enjoyed connection with women I don’t normally cross paths with too often. They had me cracking up and connecting in ways that hadn’t entered my mind as we were planning for this event.

So, the success of this event was less about the “seen” elements and more about those things that often go unnoticed but are absolutely essential to an excellent evening. It was a pleasure to see our church building used as a resource and the body of believers work together to bless our community. In doing so, I believe we were all blessed.

This event applied the principle in Didi’s sermon this week about living generously. When we give richly and sacrificially, we are blessed in return more than we can imagine. Believe it or not, this wasn’t planned to match the sermon series, but God works like that, and we can be a part of it if we’re willing!