On February 3rd and 4th, thousands of women around the globe had a shared experience in the IF:Gathering. This is a relatively new type of women’s conference. Rather than drawing everyone to one city or retreat, this conference emphasizes local gatherings of Intentional Fellowship (IF).
The founders of IF want more than a one-time event. They want to ignite lasting impact and action within local communities. Sessions are telecast to churches, homes, and anywhere with internet access, but the heart of the conference is in connection with those right around you: at your table, at your school, at your church, on your street. This year’s speakers ranged from Bible teachers to social justice activists, from authors and moms to coaches and singer/songwriters.
Justice Network played a part at the IF:local in Wyckoff, NJ.
Cornerstone Christian Church in Wyckoff, NJ, hosted the two-day simulcast event. They offered a gorgeous and welcoming environment that included meals, live music, a prayer room, and an Outreach Gallery. The Gallery promoted four different local ministries, inviting conference participants to learn more and get involved.
Justice Network’s co-founder, Tanya Dennis, served at the Outreach Gallery, but also shared from the stage about the heart and work of our organization. This being just days before the Super Bowl, she emphasized the #HTChallenge and provided ample materials for others to join in our efforts toward abolition and restoration.
While Tanya spoke at the IF:local event in Wyckoff, the larger IF:Gathering highlighted the work of IJM on a global scale. Stories were told of human trafficking and other injustices around the world. Donations were encouraged, as well as local activism.
Here’s a larger glimpse of what the conference held.
ON RACIAL RECONCILIATION:
Latasha Morrison spoke about the need for racial reconciliation, within our culture, our nation, and our churches. Her non-profit organization, Be the Bridge, offers tools and resources to do just that. She led a panel of amazing women in a raw conversation about prejudice and overcoming barriers of culture and racial divides.
They reminded us that:
- You cannot reconcile that which you do not recognize. You have to NAME the problem before you can overcome it.
- All reconciliation starts with conversation. Open, honest, truthful and safe conversation.
- We need to create safe places to have these conversations.
Another key point: whenever possible we need to let the oppressed speak for themselves. Let them be their own ambassadors. Let them tell their own stories.
“I back up so that others who don’t have privilege may have the opportunity to speak.” – Amena Brown
ON THE REFUGEE CRISIS:
Author and activist Jenny Yang spoke about her work with refugees through World Relief. She emphasized the great need for people to approach the issue with humanity and compassion.
Assisting the refugee crisis isn’t just about immigration or politics. It’s about caring for those in need, many of whom are already our neighbors. Piggy-backing on discussions throughout the conference, speakers urged participants to “walk across the street.” Get to know your neighbors. Learn about them and what they need, then be willing to make a difference. Be brave enough to get involved in the lives of those around you.
“When we the church love and welcome those the world wants us to hate, we live the Gospel.” – Jenny Yang
Don’t wait for someone with a title to send you. Understand: if you have passion, if your heart is tied and broken over injustice, you have already been sent.
“I am a SENT ONE.” – Keisha Polonio
ON PERSONAL MISSION & REACHING THE HURTING:
Several sessions focused on overcoming doubts, insecurities, and simply empowering “regular women” to be a force of influence right where they are. A major foundation of Justice Network’s mission is the belief that anyone and everyone can be involved in changing the world. The If:Gathering echoed and affirmed this belief many times over.
Bigger is not always better. Platforms and numbers are not important. Personal connections are far more powerful. They impact present and future generations, multiplying exponentially. If we choose to tend small and give generously, we may ignite change that lasts long beyond our own involvement, even our lives.
“The orbit of your life, the space between your two feet, that is your mission field.”
“You go where you’re sent, you stay where you’re put, and you give what you’ve got until you’re done.” – Jill Briscoe
Want to hear more?
You can purchase a digital download of the entire conference online through the IF:Gathering website. There you can also access countless other resources and opportunities offered through the speakers, authors, and future events.