Nearly 250 women gathered at the Hyatt for the Women’s Conference last Saturday, put on by the Santa Clarita Valley Church of Christ.
Sounds from the event ranged from the joy of laughter, singing, and some crying. Many women cried during the heart wrenching stories others shared. This is the 11th year the church has hosted the event, which typically has a large turnout.
Samantha Heinz was one of three women who shared their stories and how they came to God. Heinz witnessed her mother’s addiction to heroin, was kidnapped as a four year old, and later watched her mother overdose. It took her years to surmount the anger and bitterness and find reconciliation with God.
Her story, like the others, brought many attendees to tears. Michelle Holloway has attended the conference every year its been offered. She said the testimonies reminded her that she is not alone and many other women face difficult problems in life.
“We all have challenges, health, finances, relationships, jobs,” said Holloway. “But God is always there to help pull us through it.”
This year’s theme was “Be Still.” A message to help women remember to take time for themselves and to find stillness in their everyday lives, where they can connect with God.
Keynote speaker Dawn Ferry encouraged women to find ways to be still beyond sitting in prayer. Ferry explained she often finds “stillness” and connection with God while cycling or hiking.
“I believe stillness is a command from God,” said Ferry. “We have to go to Jesus Christ to find internal peace. We have to turn down the volume of the world to hear the whisper of God.”
This was the first year Kymburlie Vance attended the event. Prompted by an invitation from a coworker, Vance decided to see what the day was about.
“Being a single mom with two jobs and busy kids I don’t make any time for me,” tears began to form in her eyes as she shared her story. “This reminded me it is more important than ever to be still. I will do that every day now. It will make me a better mom and a better person.”
Camila Zakher, a 19 year old college student, said the event was especially empowering to see so many women together sharing lessons that are focused solely for women.
“Everybody has a different story, but its cool to see how God works through everyone differently and how he can transform someone’s life.”
This was the eighth year Mahal Argota, a medical assistant and mother of three, attended. She was invited for the first time in 2009 by her best friend. With no knowledge of the church or the event, she decided to give it a try. Now she attends every year.
Argota, like many of the women at the event, explained the church and the women’s event in particular helped to shape her life. Many explained it offered them comfort, encouragement and understanding among other women.
“When my friend invited me I didn’t know that it would actually change my life, but it did,” said Argota.