National IF: conference makes third local appearance for women’s worship, fellowship
Women around the world will be able to join together Friday and Saturday to worship and focus on Jesus as part of IF: 2020 conferences.
IF:Lycoming County will be held at First Church Christian Life Center, 601 Market St., from 7 to 10 p.m. Friday, then 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday.
“We gather together as the body of Christ, as sisters in Christ, no matter what our denominations are, or our cultures. Our backgrounds are all different, but we have one thing in common and that’s our heavenly Father,” said Melissa Lundy, of First Church and a member of the committee organizing the local event.
Lundy encouraged women to come for those two days, “just to retreat, rest, fellowship with other sisters in Christ and just to focus on Jesus. Just enjoy that full experience of Jesus,” she said.
This year’s theme for the conference is appropriately “2020:Focus on Jesus.” Those attending will experience live worship, teachings presented by a simulcast from Dallas and a chance to hear women share their IF:table experiences.
The IF:table is one of the discipleship tools used by the group to minister to others.
“We’ll be practicing the IF:table at the gathering itself. Then if you’re interested, you can start your own IF:table wherever that may be, wherever God is sending you to do that. It could be in your home, it could be in your workplace. You could do it with teenagers,” Lundy said.
Michelle Bahr, a member of the committee, shared how she had used the IF:table with a group of teenagers, including her daughter. They had discussed questions on social justice formulated by Latasha Morrison, one of the women scheduled to speak at the conference.
“It’s a ministry about discipleship. To disciple a generation — that’s what it’s all about,” Lundy shared.
“The IF:Gathering is a time and an opportunity to have that experience of worshiping together as the body of Christ with other sisters. We’re learning about God, we’re learning these incredible teachings of the Word, we’re having some intimate conversations at the table. we’re getting equipped with all these tools they’re giving us, and that enables us to be sent out and to make disciples in our own places, in our own spaces,” she said.
“No matter where you come from,” Melanie Wittrock, another member of the committee, added. She went on to share her experience at an IF: conference about six years ago.
“The Lord showed me a vision of two pastors’ wives. They moved to the area, they knew each, their kids ran in circles together but (they) were not allowed to talk to each other because there were splits off of churches they inherited. So there was this wall and, every once in a while, they kept peeking over that wall and seeing each other, wanting to connect, because what they inherited, that’s what they lived in,” Wittrock said.
She continued by saying that she invited these two women to the conference. One sat on each side of Wittrock and then, at one point, she excused herself.
“I came back and they were sitting, holding hands, praying and crying. That’s where the Lord says He wants to break down walls. That’s what’s keeping us from one another and also because we’re longing for that connection with each other to strengthen and encourage one another, knowing the things we’re going through not only as women, but as a community and church,” she added.
Scheduled speakers for the event include Jamie Ivey, Jada Edwards, Jennie Allen, Layla De La Garza, Ruth Simons, Davy Flowers, Bianca Olthoff, Beth Moore and Morrison.
The conference will also include times of optional holy yoga on Saturday morning and afternoon, a book swap, door prizes, refreshments and the opportunity to purchase Noonday Collection jewelry. Various local resources will have information tables at the event and an offering will be taken for Wise Options, to support women in the community, Lundy said.
Young women from ages 12 to 17 are invited to attend the conference, but must be accompanied by a mentor, such as a mother, grandmother, teacher or youth leader. There is no childcare, but nursing babies are welcome.
There is a $15 registration fee and registrations can be made online at bit.ly/IFLycomingCounty.