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Big Crowds Expected For Women Of Faith

Group's Annual Conference Starts Friday

August 10, 2006
By FRANCES GRANDY TAYLOR, Courant Staff Writer

For the sixth consecutive year, Karin Speer plans to be in the audience when the Women of Faith return to Hartford this weekend.

Speer, 54, says she looks forward to the spiritual recharge she gets from the two-day conference, which is expected to bring 10,000 women from across the state to the Hartford Civic Center beginning Friday evening. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.

Women of Faith is a nondenominational Christian organization that focuses on women and their needs at different stages of their lives. The conference, which travels to 28 cities each year, highlights women's spiritual issues using humor, drama and songs.

Speer will attend this year's "Contagious Joy" conference with about 60 women from her Baptist church in Fairfield.

"It makes you feel valued. There are women of every age, culture and background, and it's incredible to know what our common needs are," Speer said. "And the humor is important - humor softens your heart and opens you up to talking about things that are deeper."

Women of Faith was founded nearly a dozen years ago, and features Marilyn Meberg, Lucy Swindoll, Patsy Clairemont, Sheila Walsh and Thelma Wells, motivational speakers who share their life experiences in an effort to show women they are not alone in their daily life challenges.

Wanda Carmon, 57, had never heard of Women of Faith until she received a free ticket from a friend eight years ago. She's attended every conference here since then.

"It's very uplifting," said Carmon, who will attend the conference this weekend with 100 women from Trinity United Methodist Church in Windsor. "They just have wonderful messages for women at any point in their lives. We have teenagers who will be coming with us, as well as women in their 80s. It's something we look forward to all year."

This weekend the conference will include special guest Jennifer Rothschild, an author who became blind as a teenager; dramatist Nicole Johnson who performs a vignette about her battle against breast cancer; and Carol Kent, a woman whose son went from West Point graduate to a life in prison after being convicted of murder.

Meberg, who is based in Frisco, Texas, has been a featured speaker with the conference since its beginning.

"Our premise is that life is hard, but we can always find elements in the difficulty of life that give us a laugh if we look for it," Meberg said in telephone interview. "We're not pastors or preachers, we don't teach doctrine - we just want women to know that God loves his creation, that he knows you and loves you."

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
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