I love those sisters The dreadlocked and pressed sisters The short-cropped ‘fro and bush coiffed sisters
I love the boldness of color The caramel and the burnt black glossy sisters The cream and the chocolate sisters
The God-loving, prayer-warrior sisters The “praise-the-Lord,” way-out-of-no-way sisters The excuse my language sisters make-do-with-what-you-got sisters
I love the sisters Who love us Inspire us Push us Pull us Pray us through
I love the every-shade-of earth sisters The Creole, Patois, Swahili, Ebonics sisters The Ph.D.s and the on-their-knees cleaning sisters The nose-wiping sisters The best-friend sisters The “O-my-God-did-you-see-that” sisters
I love those God-given sisters!
I Love Those Sisters.
Worship Planning Notes
Women’s Day presents an opportunity for women to lead in a worship service and a chance to educate the church regarding the purposes of Women’s Ministries. It is an ideal time to introduce your women leaders to the church family and to invite women who have not been involved to join in.
Here are some general, overarching principles for your Women’s Day programming, adapted for worship from Women’s Day worship planning should:
Recognize that women are not all the same. It’s not an easy job to minister to such a diverse group of people. But anyone who wants to appeal to women in general must recognize that women are a diverse group. Worship leaders must create programs that appeal to more than one type of woman. This is the same for any demographic group in the church, but perhaps most of all for women. Women’s lifestyles, circumstances, and preferences are so diverse. Not everything has to appeal to every woman—but if NOTHING about the worship service appeals to a particular woman, she'll quickly get the message that she's not OK and not wanted.
Respect women’s intellectual capacities. Too often, we seem to buy into the world’s lie that women are purely emotional beings, at the whim of fantasy and hormones, and not smart enough or concerned with critical thinking and the difficult issues of the day. God created women to feel and to think. Women’s souls hunger not only for the presence of God, but also for knowledge of God’s truth. Music and other worship elements that focus only on women’s emotional needs or that stay on a shallow intellectual level are doing a disservice to women and to the entire body of Christ.
Recognize that not all women are wives and mothers. Women are not required to fill these roles in order to see God’s purpose for their lives. We cannot overlook the importance of these roles in the lives of many women, but we must acknowledge that women are unmarried, childless, divorced, struggling with infertility, focused on their careers, and everything in between. For many, being unmarried, childless, single, for example, are by choice; these are not poor, unfortunate souls to be pitied! They’re all important to God, and none of them should have the impression that God’s plans do not include them. In worship, use language that is inclusive of all that women present.
Make it safe for women to deal with real life. Many churches have a systemic problem: keeping important topics off the “approved” list at women’s ministry gatherings. If a women’s ministry program were able to make it safe to talk honestly about our experiences with spiritual doubt, depression, injustice, loneliness, temptation, abuse, regrets, sex, career success, insecurities, the need to achieve, perfection, financial worries, sexual harassment, boredom, anxiety, exhaustion, great books, eating, addictions, and things that keep us awake at night, that ministry would produce powerful changes in women’s lives. This year, do not be afraid to include the topics that are important to women throughout your celebration.
Affirm women. Women should not walk out of worship feeling worse about their potential in Christ than they did when they walked in. Many women feel torn down and devalued by the Church—simply because they are the type of women God made them to be. While the commitment of some women to Christ and to the church is intact and independent of what they experience in women’s ministry or a church, there are women who have written off the church, and by association Christ, because of what they have heard the church telling them about their own worth. Any women’s ministry program must make everyday women feel that they belong.
1. Litany, Responsive Reading, or Invocation
Call to Worship
(a) Let Praise Spring from Your Lips (Psalm 105:1-11, 45b). By Kwasi I. Kena
Let Praise Spring from Your Lips
O give thanks to the Lord. Call on God’s name.
Tell the world the great things God has done.
Sing to the Lord, sing praises to God.
Let your soul look up in wonder and sing, “How I Got Over.”
Glory in God’s holy name.
Let every heart that seeks the Lord declare God’s glory.
Seek God and God’s strength.
Seek the Lord continually. Let praise spring from your lips.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow.
2. Hymns and Congregational Songs
(a) What a Friend We Have in Jesus/Old Rugged Cross/How Great Thou Art. By Charles Converse, Stuart K. Hine, and Joseph Scriven
(b) Take My Life and Let It Be. By Frances Ridley Havergal. Tune, (HENDEN), by H. A. Cesar Malan
(c) My Faith Looks Up to Thee. By Ray Palmer. Tune, (OLIVET), by Lowell Mason
(d) ‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus. By Louisa M.R. Stead. Tune by William J. Kirkpatrick
(e) He Leadeth Me. By Joseph H. Gilmore. Tune, (HE LEADETH ME), by William B. Bradbury
3. Spirituals or Traditional Songs
(a) Steal Away. Spiritual
(b) I’m Gonna Sing When the Spirit Says Sing. Spiritual. Arr. by Howard Helvey
(c) He Never Said a Mumblin’ Word. Spiritual. Arr. by Moses Hogan
(d) How I Got Over. Traditional
(e) Siyahamba. Traditional African
4. Gospel Songs for Choirs or Praise Teams Songs for Choirs
(a) Excellent Lord. By Jamie Hawkins and Myiia Sunny Hawkins
(b) Be Strong! The Lord Will Be with You. By Roy L. Belfield, Jr. For SATB choir, organ, and 2 trumpets (optional)
(c) O God Our Help in Ages Past. By Isaac Watts. Music by Rhonda Woodard. For SATB choir, a capella
7.Modern Songs (Written between 2005–2010)
(a) I Don’t Mind Waiting. By Juanita Bynum
(b) Dare 2 Be. By Brad Baerwald, Leslie Baerwald, and Carmen Calhoun
(c) My Rock. By Keith Williams
(d) Sovereign God. By Anthony Brown
(e) Dwell in the House. By Gale Jones Murphy
8. Offertory Song or Instrumental Spoken Word for Offertory
(a) Give Thanks. By Gwendolyn Tisdale
Music for Offertory
(b) Let the Praises Flow. By Robert W. “JoJo” Hill and Lucinda Moore
(c) God’s Got a Blessing. By Twinkie Clark
(d) I’m Grateful. By Mike City
(e) I Really Am Grateful. By Lamar Campbell
9. Prayer, Song, or Instrumental for the Period of Prayer Prayer
(a) Prayer. By Erna Johnson
Thank you for all the prayers you’ve answered during our lifetime.
You’ve answered small prayers and big prayers, evening prayers and morning prayers,
soft prayers and loud prayers, anxious prayers and peaceful prayers.
May our own prayers be shaped according to your faithfulness,
becoming less selfish and frantic
and more calm and trusting with each day that passes.
In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
(c) Soul Cry (Oh, Oh, Oh) [Instrumental]. By Juanita Bynum
(d) Touch Me. By Olivia McClurkin
(e) I Tried Him and I Know Him. By Elbertina “Twinkie” Clark
(f) Holy Is Your Name. By Cedric Thompson
(g) No Not One. By Vickie Winans
10. Sermonic Selection
(a) You Will Be My God. By Chrystal Rucker
(b) It’s All God. By Harold Lilly, Jr.
(c) Holding On to Jesus. By Michael Brooks
(d) It’s My Time to Be Blessed. By Melonda Pace
(e) Thank You for the Healing. By Twinkie Clark
(f) His Strength Is Perfect. By Steven Curtis Chapman and Jerry Salley
(g) Holy Ground. By Geron Davis. Arr. by Nolan Williams, Jr.
11. Invitational Song or Instrumental
(a) He’s Here Right Now. By Armond “Bamm” Davis and Lexi Allen Prater
(b) When God Says Move. By Carmen Calhoun
(c) Serve You Well. By Melvin Sanders
(d) Jesus, I Love Calling Your Name. By Harold Troy
(e) My Everything. By Sami McKinney and Scott Shavoni Parker
(f) Oh the Glory of His Presence. By Steve Fry
(g) God Cares. By Wendi Williams
12. Benediction Spoken, Sung, or Instrumental Benediction Prayer
(a) Benediction: The Lord Is Our Protector (Based on Psalm 121). By Michelle Riley Jones
Benediction: The Lord Is Our Protector (Based on Psalm 121)
Women of God, look to the hills!
Where will we find help?
Our help comes from the LORD, Creator
of all that is in heaven and in the earth.
The LORD is our protector,
He is ever watching over us,
He doesn’t sleep or lose interest in us.
He will keep our feet steady.
He won’t let us fall for anything.
He is our Protector.
He is ever watching over us.
Shall I say it again?
The LORD is our Protector.
He is right there by our side to shield us
when life would seek to scorch us.
We won’t be harmed by the pressures by day,
nor by those things that would attempt to snare us in the night.
I will say it again:
The LORD will protect us.
He will keep us safe from all harm.
Women of God, the Lord will protect us
Through all our comings and goings.
Go because of God.
Go in the presence of our God.
Go by the power of our God.
(b) Psalm 121. By Deborah Govenor. For SATB Choir
(c) For Who You Are. By Beverly Crawford
(d) The Lord Bless You and Keep You. From Numbers 6:24-27. Tune, (CHORAL BLESSING), by Peter C. Lutkin
13. Audio Visual Suggestions
(a) “A Fine and Long Tradition” is a 7-minute DVD that gives a music overview of women’s history. Historical images are set to an upbeat song that will touch your heart and linger in your memory. Song sheet and photo key included. B/W and color, 7 minutes.
(b) Strength, Courage, and Wisdom. By India Arie
1. In 2009 and again in 2011, the African American Lectionary identified more than 10 critical issues in the African American community (see the “General Resource ” drop-down menu on the home page of the Lectionary) . As women seeking to follow the example of Jesus, we believe it is important to do what we can to meet the needs of all people, developing trust and helping people find answers to their needs. Your Women’s Ministries can choose to focus its attention on one or more of these issues as they relate to women:
Homelessness • Literacy and Education • Economic Empowerment • Ministering to Persons Who Have Disabilities and Special Needs • Affordable Housing • Health and Wellness • Prison Ministry • Crime and Violence Prevention • Pastoral Care and Counseling • Substance Abuse • HIV/AIDS
These issues provide opportunities for service for everyone in the church. Although these issues affect all members directly or indirectly, they impact women most strongly. For this reason, Women’s Ministries should encourage all members to find ways they can help address at least some of these concerns. To do so is to serve as Christ served, loving and valuing humanity. Women’s Day is an opportunity to reacquaint the women in your congregation, and your community, with the resources your church can make available to them.
2. The Women’s Ministries leader, or Women’s Day Planning Team, should meet with the pastor at least six months prior to this day to discuss special plans for Women’s Day/Weekend. This is an opportunity to plan a full day or weekend of activities including Sabbath/Sunday School, the worship service, a fellowship dinner, afternoon or evening programs, or other weekend activities.
3. Below are several ideas you can incorporate into your worship service planning, or planning for other events for Women’s Day (or weekend!):
(a) Check your church’s denominational resources for Women’s Day.
(b) Form a Women’s Day Mass Choir from women in your church and community.
(c) Honor the women in your congregation with an “Our Strength Is Our History” certificate specially designed for the service.
(d) Create an illustrated timeline of women’s leadership in your congregation. Post a long sheet of paper (6’ to 10’ in length) in your fellowship hall. Begin with the date your congregation was formed (or an earlier date if ministry occurred before then) and note major decades along the top of the sheet. Invite members to add dates and activities of women in your congregation, such as the first time a woman was elected to the congregational council or the first time a woman was a lay leader or assisting minister. You’ll have fun recalling these events, and the younger people in your congregation might be surprised by when some of these “firsts” occurred.
(e) Discover stories about the women in your congregation who have contributed greatly to ministry in your community but who have done so with little fanfare or recognition. Interview older women. Document their lives. This makes a great oral history project. Consider sharing these stories in a written format. This would be a real gift to your congregation.
(f) Have your Women’s Ministry honor the men in your church who support women’s ministry.
(g) Host an “In Her Shoes” Women’s Tea (developed by Regina Reaves Hayden) to support a local Women’s Shelter or other women’s resource group.
CONCEPT: The basic concept of the tea is that women come together (1) to bring a pair of her shoes to donate and be ‘sold’ to the event for a local women’s shelter or other resource devoted to serving women, and (2) to suggest ideas for Women’s Ministry based on the needs of the church. A small donation fee of $5.00 can be set for attendees to “buy” any shoe/s they wish. Variation: The committee may choose to select 10–20 shoes to be displayed for ‘sale.’ The additional shoes collected would be donated but not displayed. The owners can bring their shoes several weeks in advance to have a photo taken of them. The photos can be made into postcards, with the reverse side bearing the owner’s favorite quote and Scripture and the contact information for the church’s women’s ministry. Each person that ‘purchases’ a shoe displayed would receive a postcard of that shoe.
SET-UP: The room can be set up like a boutique or small shoe shop, displaying one of each shoe brought in. The tables (for 6–8 persons) can be decorated with various tea pots, shoe ornaments, and flowers. Use shoe laces tied in bows to serve as napkin ties.
SHOE RECEPTION: Each attendee shops for a shoe. The shop should have “sales people” who serve the women and ask questions like, “What attracted you to this shoe? What features about the shoe do you like best? Where would you wear the shoes? What would you wear them with? What might this shoe say about the person wearing it?” These questions are discussion starters as the women mix and mingle during the reception.
THE OCCASION: The host gives an overview of the purpose of the gathering. There can be a prize given to the owners of the top 5 shoes with the highest sales.
MEAL: The meal, light fare, or heavy appetizers, should includes varies types of organic teas, cut seasonal fruits, light desserts. Infuse water in pitchers with fruit (orange slices, lemons, kiwi, etc.) or herbs/vegetables (cucumbers, basil, etc.). Have soft music playing in the background.
SMALL GROUP DISCUSSION: While eating, each table can be given an area of focus based on the needs of the church, and/or the areas identified by The African American Lectionary (see #1 under “14. Other Recommendations”). The group can suggest 2–3 ideas for how the church’s Women’s Ministry can attempt to address each topic as it relates to women.
GUEST SPEAKER: A guest female speaker can present a devotion or motivational talk on how one person’s journey can help another person complete her journey, and our responsibility to other women, young and old, as our sisters in Christ.
TESTIMONIES: Begin this part of the Tea with selected women (maybe 2–3) who can reveal the shoe they brought to be sold, say who they are, what their profession is, and share an actual event from their life’s journey that may encourage the other women. Then invite other women to share their testimony.
PRESENTATION OF GIFTS: Gifts may be given to the owners of the shoes with the highest sales. The committee may also give gift to pastor’s wife and other leaders for their work for women in the community. The committee may also disclose and celebrate how much has been raised to support women’s initiatives.
“In Her Shoes” Women’s Tea
“Shoe” Reception (Meet, Greet, & Shop)
Small Group Discussions (during meal)
Guest Speaker (devotional or motivational)
Presentation of Gifts
4. Below are several ideas from the National Women’s History Project (NWHP) website (http://www.nwhp.org) that you can incorporate into your worship service and other planning:
Purchase copies of the 2011 Women’s History Gazette newspaper. The articles and images in the new Gazette both validate and reinforce the Our History Is Our Strength theme. The 2011 Gazette will publicize the groundbreaking work that is being done to honor the contributions women have made to the nation. Hopefully it will also inspire others to take action in their own lives. You can purchase enough copies for every member of your congregation, the women only, or as part of an appreciation gift for selected women in your congregation.
Develop your own church replica of the 2011 Women’s History Gazette with articles, pictures, etc. of women from your own church and/or community.
PSAs—Women’s History (Written or on CD). During the month of March, begin your Sabbath or Sunday school classes, or include as a short PSA during the worship service, a short, upbeat biography about famous American women. Have members of your congregation research women to include in the PSAs throughout the month, or purchase the “Women’s History” CD from NWHP which includes short biographical sketches on 31 women prominent in U.S. history. The CD includes both 30-second and 60-second biographical sketches.
For other related planning
Invite a woman performertoportray African American women of history at your celebration program. See the NWHP listings of Women’s History Performers (http://www.nwhp.org/whm/performers.php). There may be a performer in your community with whom you can plan a special program, or one of the listed State or National Performers can travel across the country to be at your event. State or national performers include: Wanda Schell, Joy Jones, Joanna Maddox, Susan Victoria Blair, Susie Butler, and Winifred Elam. See their contact information in the Cites section below.
Invite a special speakerto make history come alive with her intellect and enthusiastic presentation about a specific area of women’s history. See the NWHP listings of “Authors and Presenters” or “Our Distinguished Speakers Bureau” (http://www.nwhp.org/resourcecenter/speakersbureau.php).
Plan a reception, luncheon, or event that honors women in your church and/or community who are pioneering roles models whose lives need to be part of the historic record.
Our History Is Our Strength Speech. The speech discusses the theme with particular focus on the inspiration and strength that comes to our lives because of women’s leadership in the Labor Movement, the Suffrage Movement, the Civil Rights Movement, the Women’s Movement, and the Environmental Movement. Written for the NWHP, this celebration speech is yours to use or adapt for keynote addresses, club meetings, workplace or school presentations, or other events. Approximate speech length is 15 minutes.
5. Organize a Prayer Walk, the practice of praying on location, a type of intercessory prayer that involves walking to or near a particular place while praying, to get the women of your church involved in prayer for the community. The walk can be as short as a block or as long as several blocks. Have a plan before you begin walking:
Ask that God will use you as initiators of change in the community.
Map out the streets close to your church that you plan to walk and have a picture in your mind of the buildings, houses, or other objects that are along these streets.
Plan the walk for ½ hour to 1 hour, or 1 block to several blocks, for each team.
Organize the women in teams of 2–4 persons.
Provide each team with: (1) map or list of streets the team should cover; (2) literature from your church; and, (3) literature on your church’s Women’s Ministry resources and/or other women’s information resources. Leave the materials in doors, mail boxes, and places where it can easily be seen.
6. Plan a noon tea, bake sale, cooking class, car wash, spa day, or flea market. Contribute the money you raise to a local women’s resource/charity, or your church’s Women’s Ministry.
Cites and Additional Information for Music and Material Listed
I Love Those Sisters. By Valerie Bridgeman
Bridgeman, Valerie and Safiyah Fosua, assoc. eds. The Africana Worship Book: Year C. Nashville, TN: Discipleship Resources, 2008, p. 244.
(c) God’s Got a Blessing. By Twinkie Clark
God’s God a Blessing—Single. Detroit, MI: Larry Clark Gospel, 2010.
(d) I’m Grateful. By Mike City
Adams, Yolanda. Day by Day. New York, NY: Atlantic/WEA, 2005.
(e) I Really Am Grateful. By Lamar Campbell
Taylor, Kathy. Kathy Taylor Live: The Worship Experience. Indianapolis, IN: Tyscot Records, 2009.
"9. Prayer, Song, or Instrumental for the Period of Prayer Prayer
(a) Prayer. By Erna Johnson
“A Promise Is a Promise” Sermon and Resource packet for International Women’s Day of Prayer, by Erna Johnson, South Pacific Division Women’s Ministry Director, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Women’s Ministries. http://adventistwomensministries.org/index.php?id=124 accessed 13 December 2010
(b) Be Still. By Frederick B. Young
J. S. Paluch Co./World Library Publications
3708 River Road, Suite 400
Franklin Park, IL 60131-2158
Online location: www.wipmusic.com Product #001222
3. “In Her Shoes” Women’s Tea idea was developed by Regina Reaves Hayden. Used by permission. Regina is an award-winning graphic designer and creative consultant who supports many church-related projects. She volunteers time and creative resources to Sisters ‘n Sync, a Maryland-based organization that provides a safe place for at-risk girls and women, through mentoring and life skills training.
Wanda Schell (Available in MD, DC, VA)
Performance Description: “For Ever Zora.” Come along on a fascinating journey with a member of The “Talented Tenth” of the Harlem Renaissance. Meet Zora Neale Huston, novelist, folklorist, and anthropologist. Travel with Zora from her hometown in Eatonville as she tries to outwit “Nanny.” Follow her down South on Folklore expeditions. Laugh yourself silly as you meet “Big Sweet” and hear some prize-winning folktales. Explore her brush with “Hoodoo” with the grand nephew of Marie Leveau. Meet “Charlotte Osgood Mason,” (Godmother) as Zora and Langston write their controversial play “Mule Bone.” This 60-minute play is told with songs, music, folktales, tears, and laughter.
Joy Jones (Available Nationally)
Performance Description: She’s Not in Your History Book —A lecture on accomplished African and African American women from antiquity to contemporary times. This lecture focuses on historically noteworthy women who are seldom acknowledged for their achievements. Performance poetry is a key feature of this presentation. Among the women featured are: Queen Hatshepsut, Egyptian pharaoh; Dorothy Dandridge, actress; and Ellen Craft, who along with her husband, William Craft, staged a stunning escape out of slavery. Is There a Griot in the House?—A story hour for grown-ups. Listen to storytelling based on family histories of life “down-home” and in the big city. Also included is a short talk on how to develop an oral or written record of your own family’s history.
Joanna Maddox (Available in GA)
Performance Description: Joanna Maddox is known for her dramatic one-woman portrayals of black American women in history. Travel to Freedom on the Underground Railroad with Harriet Tubman. Meet Rosa Parks—Mother of the Civil Rights Movement; Madam CJ Walker, first black female millionaire; Marian Anderson, first black opera singer to sing with the Metropolitan Opera; Dr. Mae Jemison, first black female astronaut; Bessie Coleman, first black pilot; Wilma Rudolph, Olympic Gold Medalist. Joanna is a teller of African folktales, African American and multicultural tales and original stories.
Susan Victoria Blair (Available in Northern CA)
Performance Description: Women of Grace. This presentation uses the imagery in quilts and the music of slave work songs and spirituals, as well as African American women’s words to discuss the evolution of the African American woman in American history and society. The first quilt represents symbols of African heritage used to embellish textiles and bedcovers. A second quilt is presented to illustrate the importance of the Underground Railroad and the women who made the escape to freedom possible for hundreds of enslaved people. The last quilt was created to show an evolution from slave to First Lady. The quilts are a backdrop honoring the dignity and grace of African American women.
Susie Butler (Available in CA)
Performance Description: Sarah Vaughan—The Divine One! Sarah Vaughan (1924–1990) comes to life in a one-hour play. An evening of entertainment incorporates a DVD telling the story of Sarah Vaughan’s life in jazz music. Susie Butler is on the road just as Sarah Vaughan was in the 1950s. The show utilizes unique costumes, props and set pieces. Brochure available upon request.
Winifred Elam (Available Nationally)
Performance Description: Winifred Elam enters the stage as the Narrator character from the year 1851. The Narrator introduces the audience to the time and place in history of Sojourner Truth. The Narrator exits and returns immediately as Truth. As Truth, Elam re-enacts a particular day in Akron, Ohio, a day in May 150 years ago, when Truth delivered a short speech, the content of which is still relevant, dynamic, and powerful in thought and vision. The speech, titled “Ain’t I a Woman” holds a place in the golden moments of American history.
Speaker suggestion: Minniejean Brown Trickey (http://www.nwhp.org/whm/trickey_bio.php). Minniejean Brown Trickey was only sixteen years old when she became involved in one of the most pivotal acts of the American Civil Rights Movement of the 20th century, as one of The Little Rock Nine. Brown Trickey served in Clinton Administration as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Workforce Diversity at the Department of the Interior. As consultant, she has trained nationally and internationally in anti-racism, diversity, feminist research, cross-cultural communications, and organizational change.