Wednesday, May 28, 2014

E.D.E.N. - What It's All About

It started with a simple question.

"Would you like to lead the women's ministry this year?"

That was around August or September. Can't remember exactly. It's all a blur now. 

Needless to say, I agreed to take on the task. Having been a part of different women's ministries in the past, I felt like we needed to do something different. This couldn't be your typical women's ministry. After a little searching I found a book that seemed to lay out exactly what I had in mind. Something different.

Fresh Ideas for Women's Ministry
I remember being excited to host our first women's ministry team planning meeting at my home in early October. The five of us met around my kitchen table and discussed what we felt the Rocky Hill women's ministry should be all about. We decided to have the women of the church complete a survey to get an idea what type of ministry would 'fly' at Rocky Hill. We initiated the survey in mid-October and then things got busy. Not with the ministry, but with the holidays and our personal lives. We didn't meet again until February. 

Photo: Ready for our first RHBC women's ministry team meeting for this year! So excited to welcome these ladies into our home!

I had lots of anxious nights in the months between October and February. There were times I'd lie in bed feeling guilty for not having a meeting and not being a better leader. Life calmed down a bit in January and we decided to meet in early February. I emailed everyone and asked them to finish reading the book and pray about a name for the ministry before our meeting. Driving home from Murfreesboro one afternoon all I could think about was the women's ministry... I prayed for God to lead us to the right name, one that would encompass everything we wanted the women's ministry to be about. Then it hit me. I emailed everyone the next day to see if they liked the idea. We decided to go with the name and E.D.E.N. was born!

Evangelize. Disciple. Encourage. Nurture.
The Women’s Ministry of Rocky Hill Baptist Church.

When we all finally got together for our meeting in February we discussed everything we'd read in the women's ministry book. We had so many ideas! I can't even remember how many more times we met over the next several weeks, but we laid out plans for the ministry and set dates for the kickoff and the monthly meetings. We decided to have one big kickoff event and then hold monthly meetings on the third Saturday of each month from 10:00 a.m. until noon.

Can you see a common theme in these team meetings? We like to eat...... I think I ate more hummus, pita chips and grapes during our meetings than I've eaten in my entire lifetime!

We did do more than eat.... We discussed our vision and the format for each meeting. We also determined the mission of our ministry. From those discussions, and much prayer, the Mission Statement for E.D.E.N became:

·        To see all women come to know Christ personally
·        To strengthen and equip women with the wisdom of God’s word
·        To encourage women to live according to God’s purpose
·        To nurture and reach our community through service and hands-on 

We seek to EVANGELIZE the lost and see all women come to know Christ personally. We seek to strengthen and equip women with the wisdom of God's word in order to DISCIPLE each other. We seek to ENCOURAGE women to live according to God's purpose. And we seek to NURTURE and reach our community through service and hands-on ministry.

Believing that every E.D.E.N. meeting should follow our mission and adhere to our vision, we were intentional in how we set up the two-hour monthly sessions. We felt that women should have the opportunity to evangelize, disciple, encourage and nurture each time they attended a meeting. In order to make that vision a reality, we set up the following meeting schedule for the first six months:


10:00 a.m.- (“for me”) Women participate in a Fellowship Class to attend for 6 months. Options for the first 6 months are:
              Bible Study:  The Christian Atheist, a video-driven study 
                                        Led by Kari Whaley
              Crafts for a Cause:  Craft projects to support missions                                                                                              Led by Suzie Dulaney

10:45 a.m.- (“for us”) Women enjoy a time of fellowship with donuts and coffee!

11:00 a.m.- (“for Him”) Women participate in a Ministry Team to “be doers of the word and not hearers only” (James 1:22) for 6 months. Options for the first 6 months are:
             Clothes Closet: Clothes Closet manned by E.D.E.N. participants                                                                             Led by Judy Goins and Cheryl Barnfield
             Outreach Ministry: Team members visit our community by reaching out to local                                                              hospitals, nursing homes, and members that are homebound.
                                         Led by Juanita Rucker
             Quill Ministry:  Write encouraging notes to college students, visitors to RHBC, shut-                                              ins, etc.
                                         Led by Suzie Dulaney

I suddenly became best friends with VistaPrint. Over the next month I ordered business cards, kickoff event invitations, promotional items, posters, etc. It was so exciting to see everything come together and it was almost surreal...

Photo: Our banners, posters and decals have arrived!  The Whaley house is full of excitement! Lol

Franklyn was right there in the middle of everything and I think he was just as excited as I was every time something new arrived for E.D.E.N.! 

Eager to dive in and prepare for the Bible study portion of the monthly meetings, I ordered the books and participant guides for The Christian Atheist. I started studying and the rest of the ministry team started preparing supplies for their individual classes and groups. We began asking for donations for the E.D.E.N. Clothes Closet and things started piling up! It was so exciting to watch everything come to fruition!

Photo: Reading back over one of my favorite studies. This is the study I'll be leading every third Saturday at our women's ministry meetings. Can't wait!

And then.......

And then it was time for the kickoff. I was so unbelievably stressed that day. The picture below reflects how I felt the entire time - like a DEER IN HEADLIGHTS.

See the resemblance?

The E.D.E.N. kickoff event was the culmination of months of preparation, hard work, prayer, and dedication on the part of the women's ministry team. Juanita Rucker, Judy Goins, Suzie Dulaney, and Cheryl Barnfield are the BEST team a leader could ask for! We put so much time and energy into that one event. It may have been stressful, but it was worth every second! 

Here's a rundown of the evening.....

Women started arriving about an hour before the event. I was just glad people were eager to get there! The deacons were enlisted to cook and serve, so several men were there as well.

We began the evening with an icebreaker. It was a purse scavenger hunt. For future reference, I can now tell you who to see if you need a screwdriver, a chewing gum wrapper, a battery, exactly .37 cents, a tape measure, a used tissue, and a theme park map on any given Sunday morning. Lol. The winner, Tammy Stevenson, received a beautiful hanging plant for her front porch.

The deacons served lasagna, salad and garlic bread while the ladies listened to members of the ministry team explain what E.D.E.N. is all about. I shared a bit about how E.D.E.N. was born and then each of the team members shared about the different ministries offered during the monthly meetings. 

They laughed.

They ate.

They talked.

They smiled.

And they learned a little about E.D.E.N....

And then they smiled some more.  

Two of the BEST parts of the evening.... 
                                              ....HAD to be the CAKE and the Soggy Bottom Boys!

I ordered the cake from Sam's and we were not disappointed! They did a great job and it tasted incredible!

Sorry for all the cake pictures... It was just so pretty and so tasty.....

What fun is a kickoff event without entertainment? Knowing what a fan my husband is of the Soggy Bottom Boys from "O Brother, Where Art Thou," I had a feeling I could talk him into enlisting a couple of other men from the church to perform with him...

I was right. Scott, Dr. Charles Machen, and James Cable put on a surprise performance as the Soggy Bottom Boys. They started with a comedy routine that had every person in the room doubled over in laughter. I could barely stand up straight to watch because I was laughing so hard. They were the hit of the night.

We enlisted Jerry Barnfield, our resident artist, to create a portrait of the Soggy Bottom Boys during their performance.

                                             It turned out better than expected!

We gave the portrait to Scott (my wonderful husband, performer, and pastor) to hang in his office. Come to think of it, I haven't seen it since that night.....

We also gave away door prizes. Random winners were chosen based on where they were sitting. 

At the end of the evening we asked the ladies to register to be a part of E.D.E.N. They were asked to sign up for one fellowship class and one ministry team in which to participate during the monthly meetings. We were blown away by the number of women that registered. We were only a week away from the first meeting and excitement was high!

The monthly meetings began on April 19th. 28 women attended the first meeting! For a church our size, that was incredible! We've had two monthly meetings so far and they've both been successful. We've completed two sessions of The Christian Atheist, made 'wordless' books for the Good News Club, provided snack baskets for the waiting room at Parkwest Medical Center, provided for those in need through the Clothes Closet, encouraged our community through notes and cards, and, in the midst of ministering to others, enjoyed Christian fellowship.

We provide permanent name tags for each lady. Name tags are passed out when the women sign in and then returned to us when they leave.  This way we don't have to keep making replacements!

Ready to study!

Ready to encourage!

Ready to serve!

Ready for pastries, coffee, and fellowship!

E.D.E.N is open to women of all ages. You don't have to be a member of Rocky Hill Baptist Church to join us. If you live in the Knoxville area, we'd LOVE to have you as part of our ministry!

Well, I'm past the 'deer in the headlights' thing. I'm now in the 'life is good' phase.


It's hard to believe I get to be a part of such an amazing ministry. I'm looking forward to watching E.D.E.N. grow, watching women grow, and watching Rocky Hill grow. 

Evangelize. Disciple. Encourage. Nurture.
The Women’s Ministry of Rocky Hill Baptist Church.