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Caring for the Soul

Virtual Assembly workshops offer soul care and hope for the future

by Jessica Brodie

United Women in Faith’s Assembly 2022 offered two workshops on Friday afternoon for virtual attendees that brought an opportunity for deeper learning and wisdom-sharing for hundreds of women across the nation.

As the first-ever online-only component of the event, Virtual Assembly’s Friday lineup featured “New Wineskins: How to Share the New Brand,” by Francine Davis of the Peninsula-Delaware Conference, and “Soul Care Retreats: How to Enjoy or Design Your Own,” by Rev. Dionne P. Boissière, chaplain of the Church Center for the United Nations.

Davis discussed the new look and feel of United Women in Faith after the name, logo and color refresh launched in March. She reviewed what is new, revealed opportunities, and shared the brand tools and materials available to all.

“Your brand is your story,” Davis said, noting United Women in Faith’s brand personality is inclusive, life-changing, bold, fresh and spiritual. “Oh, my goodness, if we weren’t out there on the forefront doing this work for women, children and youth, what would the world do? We are bold changemakers.”

Davis said it is crucial women tell existing and potential members they are integral to this spiritual sisterhood and can change the world.

“This work is essential.”

Heed God’s command

Next, Boissière underscored the utmost necessity of “soul care”—that is, self care and spiritual rejuvenation.

Our total health is paramount, she said, and we should see ourselves and our souls as sacred.

“But it is not well with our souls these days,” Boissière said. “Whenever there is injustice in the world anywhere, it cannot be well with our souls. This is why we have a sacred imperative to take time to care and nurture our souls so we can be well enough—not just to prosper on our own but with all of God’s creation.”

You cannot care for others if you do not care for yourself, Boissière explained before exploring ways to achieve soul care, types of soul care retreats and elements of a retreat.

Drawing from Song of Solomon 1:5-6, Boissière reminded the women they have been taking care of others at their own expense for far too long.

“Why is it that we must die in order to rest? Literally—some of us are dying,” she said.

Instead we must heed God’s command to care for ourselves, leave what we can to God and remember we are not alone. Others can help.

A rich online experience

Alana Walls, distance learning coordinator for United Women on Faith, said the goal with the virtual workshops was to maximize people’s ability to learn. They intentionally incorporated certain elements into each workshop, such as avoiding a lecture style in favor of a more engaging question-answer format, skipping often-confusing breakout groups and building in self-care moments. They worked to be sensitive about how certain hues impact people when viewed too long onscreen. For example, there were no slides in solid orange, which can be harsh and might trigger migraines.

Ruth Bowen, social action coordinator for the North Texas Conference United Women in Faith, attended the “New Wineskins” workshop and said she loved the speaker’s energetic and personable presentation, and the slides helped her understand the material easily. She also felt the webinar format was especially helpful given the size of the group.

“I don’t think Francine or any presenter could have interacted this well with 300-400 participants in person. With this many attending, virtual worked best,” Bowen said.

“You really can have an amazing interactive personal experience online,” Walls said. “Before the pandemic, people doubted it, but you can.”

Jessica Brodie is editor of the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate.

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