Women Inspired to be “Up From the Ordinary” at Retreat

September 05, 2021 | Church | Dustin Jones

Up From the Ordinary, a virtual spring women’s retreat, inspired women from across the North Pacific Union Conference and the world. 

Up From the Ordinary was sponsored by the women’s ministry departments from both the Upper Columbia Conference and Alaska Conference. It featured music and more from Walla Walla University, Walla Walla University Church and Village Church in Walla Walla, Washington. 

The spring event was like none other because of far reaching partnerships. “The women’s ministry team partnered with ladies from the Walla Walla Valley, with Ater Munson leading out and with Alaska Conference’s women’s ministries director, Jean Gobah,” said Patty Marsh, UCC women’s ministry director. “We were blessed!”

The featured speaker for the retreat was Jean Boonstra, Voice of Prophecy ministry associate speaker and executive producer for Discovery Mountain. Boonstra presented several vignettes of characters from the Bible who brought themselves 'up from the ordinary' — characters like Eliezer, Esther and Tabitha. 

Cindy Walikonis and Gail Lane discussed how their church works to provide meals for homeless people in their area and how their ministry has been impacted by COVID-19. Another feature focused on Eden’s Pantry, a ministry of Walla Walla University Church. Khai-Ling Tan and Susan Willard explained how their community is getting much-needed food and that even university students not able to afford nutritious meals are being served at Eden’s Pantry. 

Several musical guests were highlighted during the retreat, including Alana Glendrange, a lawyer from Walla Walla, and Shalah McCarthy, a student from Alaska Conference. 

Wedding photographer Emily Poole presented a feature on how to develop a creative eye for photography and how to use those approaches in your spiritual life.

In a typical year, this event is held at the UCC headquarters. But the last two women’s retreats have been held virtually. “While we look forward to the time when we fellowship in person again,” says Marsh, “a surprising benefit from our virtual retreats is that participants join from as far-away as places like New York, Illinois, Arizona, California and even ladies from Great Britain.”

The event is even reaching beyond Adventist churches. “Some guests list various denominations or even ‘no church’ when they register,” said Marsh. “This year’s keynote speaker, Jean Boonstra, gave hope and encouragement to [viewers with] no faith to those who are rich-in-faith by focusing on how God uses ordinary people.”

To watch the broadcast of the retreat, go to uccsda.org/womensretreat.