by Sheryl Brisbane
In a few days, Cornerstone will be celebrating it’s 60th anniversary! Along with that landmark moment, my husband Terry and I will also be celebrating another marker point. It will be 25 years since Terry has pastored & lead this church, this same one that his grandfather had founded 60 years ago.
These past few months, we were captured on film as we ruminated back to the early days when we were just beginning to build this church. With life seemingly always moving at a busy pace, it was actually a gift to linger and ponder. To remember all that God has done. Let gratitude sink in.
In light of the church’s anniversary, I was also asked about the history of the Women’s Ministry at Cornerstone. That thought never occurred to me to take a walk down this road. So I’m taking a moment to sit down and open up our women’s history book, thumb through its pages.
When I first started coming to this church way back in 1981, I don’t recall us having a formal women’s ministry. Then sometime in 1989 a group of us banded together to start a regular women’s prayer group, which was birthed out of an inescapable hunger to see women plug into the power and promises of God. We realized that there was so much potential in each one of us that had yet to be tapped. God wanted to “activate” us. Each time we met, it strengthened our faith to see the Lord answer our prayers and the way He was at work all around us. Eventually from that group, 24 years ago, emerged the beginnings of the women’s ministry, which today is called Women@Cornerstone.
Through the years there have been many different kinds of opportunities offered to the women at Cornerstone….small groups, Christmas Dinners, Christmas Teas, Summer Brunches, Camping Trip, Mentoring Ministry, Leadership Retreats, Women’s Retreats, Coffee Talks, Dance & Hula ministries, Swap Meet & Eat, Conference, the W@C Blog, and most recently, Mom’s Inc. (I probably missed a few things, but you get the point. We’ve had a LONG history!)
Hopefully the women’s ministry has been less about the programs, and more about the people. There have been many, many women that have been a part of this beloved ministry, as participants, volunteers and leaders. Thinking back through the years, names came flooding to my mind. I lingered on the memories of faces, recalling what they meant to me, how their faith encouraged others, and the ways they contributed. So many women. Too many names to list here. Some have come and gone, specifically my dear friend Carrie Giorgi, who passed away 10 years ago. She was a pivotal leader in the women’s ministry in the early years. Others are still here today faithfully serving, after nearly two decades of giving…
In looking back through the archives of this ministry, I’ve learned that the only thing I can count on (besides Jesus) is CHANGE.
Sometimes CHANGE is difficult. It’s hard to let go of what is comforting and familiar. Events and ministries that we enjoyed so much have had their runs, then at some point, for various reasons, ended and we’ve had to let go and consider doing something else. The same goes for people. Women who have been involved, and then they find themselves in a transition to leave. It can be heartbreaking to say good-bye, as people come and go.
But on the other hand, CHANGE also has a sweet side. Change can be a breath of fresh air. Sometimes God has to shake things up so He can do a new thing, otherwise we would just hold on to old ways.
Those shake ups have emboldened us to start new ministries and watch people flourish in them.
Change has brought in new people. I’ve had the privilege of befriending and mentoring many different women who have courageously stepped up in leadership, starting ministries that flowed out of their own heart and have used their talents to encourage other women. In fact I think that is the best way to start new outreaches, that it must come out of the heart of the person who has a passion to make a difference in a specific way.
It’s also been exhilarating to observe spiritual transformation in a woman’s life, knowing that the Lord had directly used the women’s ministry to be a part of that. I’ve heard many stories of women who have said that the first time they ever set foot in church or heard about Jesus was coming to a Coffee Talk or Women’s Retreat. That is so cool!
Coming to know Jesus and allowing Him change our hearts is the type of CHANGE we will always hope for in the Women’s Ministry.
Megan, the co-editor of the W@C blog, asked me this intriguing question recently, “Where will the women’s ministry at Cornerstone be in another 60 years?” I laughed. That thought had never entered my mind. I’m just trying to keep up with this year!
If the Lord has W@C around for 60 more years, I hope that we are still working toward our mission – to create a nurturing environment for women to grow spiritually and relationally in Christ. I hope that women are still discovering how much God loves them, and that he has a purpose for their lives. I hope that women are living their lives for Jesus, knowing that it’s the best decision they’ve ever made!
Finally, for the women at Cornerstone today, I hope that we all trust God in what we feel like we can’t do – and then watch him work through our lives in ways that we wouldn’t have expected. That’s when we give glory to him. Our part is our willingness to say “Yes Lord” more than we say no, (in fact, I’m practicing saying that phrase right now, “yes Lord”)– and trust Him to do it His way, to transform our lives in ways we had only wished for, but could have never done on our own.
Looking forward to the next 60 years!
Join us at Cornerstone’s 60th anniversary celebration at The Warfield this Sunday – doors open at 10:00 am!