Hundreds of women from all across the High Country came together for a powerful two-day gathering that featured worship, teaching, testimony, and ministry time. With a desire to go deeper in their relationship with Jesus, the focus for these women of all ages was on Psalm 37:4 and what it means to delight in the Lord—reflecting on His goodness and standing on His promises.
"Delighting in the LORD— the theme for The Gathering's women's event this past January—was revealed to Gracie O'Laughlin nearly one year earlier in the midst of quiet reflection and prayer.
"So often the Holy Spirit elevates a piece of scripture for me to consider," Gracie said. "Themes come in different ways at different times, but each one we've focused on during these events ties back in with a desire for women to establish a deeply personal relationship with Jesus."
“Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”—Psalm 37:4
Gracie brought the idea of delighting in the LORD to her fellow event organizers Becky Herdklotz, Kristine Martin, and Rachel Mills. Already this group of local women had been inspired to host another gathering of women who want to grow in their relationship with God. This would be the fourth women's event they have helped orchestrate since 2018.
The entire group was excited about the idea. For Becky, delighting in the LORD was an obvious theme to focus on at the beginning of 2020.
"I just think we're all thirsty in January for a fresh start to a new year," she said. "And the number who ended up attending confirmed to us that women, in particular, are looking for something more meaningful in their relationship with Jesus."
Seed of Destiny
Once again Gracie would be sharing messages of hope during the two-day women's event that took place on January 17-18. She focused on Psalm 37:4 and specifically the greater meaning of delight.
"In Greek, the word for delight is "anag," which means to be soft and pliable," Gracie explained. "When we are soft and pliable before the LORD, God is able to plant a seed of destiny within us that He will carry out to completion. Mary, the mother of Jesus, is the perfect example of this when she literally births a seed of destiny."
Gracie went on to explain how so often we have desire but it is misplaced. And much like the woman at the well who Jesus meets in John 4, we're thirsting for something more. This unquenchable desire is good but too often we're trying to satisfy it with earthly things.
"When we encounter Christ," Gracie said, "He reveals our true purpose and transforms our misplaced desires into holy desires."
Humility and Unity
Kristine was responsible for assembling the worship band and selecting songs that would support the theme. Blending the styles and talents of musicians from five different churches was no easy task, but the experience was extremely life-giving for all who were involved according to Kristine.
"Two words immediately come to mind: humility and unity," she said. "This was the posture of everyone in the band and it resulted in the smoothest and most cohesive experience yet."
Not only does Kristine focus on the event's theme when selecting songs, but she also asks everyone what songs really matter to them. This approach to song selection and placement is intentionally designed to help make space for everyone to worship together in freedom.
Admittedly, Kristine said meaningful worship requires flexibility on everyone's part and being attentive to God often inspires making decisions in the moment.
"God had us stay on the song "Waymaker" for an extended period of time on Friday evening," Kristine said. "And we decided to play "Beautiful Name" if for no other reason than because it really mattered for people."
Based on registration, January's event was the most successful women's gathering to date. More than 70 churches across the High Country and from neighboring towns and states were represented. Additionally, half of all registrants were first-time attendees, a good indication that a growing number of women want to be a part of this event.
"We were over capacity, which shows a great desire for events like this," Becky said. "As exciting as that is, this gathering has always meant to be a spark for unity among believers in the High Country and to plug them back into a community of faith."
Gracie was quick to add, "We are so much better together," she said. "This event is to support the local church, not to replace it."
Not only have the number of registrants grown, so has the team of volunteers. Twenty-six women served as volunteers on Friday and Saturday. The worship team was a mix of 10 men and women.
'It’s been amazing to see such talented believers from different denominations and churches in the High Country," Becky said. "They have given so much of their time to support these events."
Gracie, Becky, Kristine, and Rachel are in the midst of discerning what is next for them and for The Gathering's women's event. For now, the team is simply celebrating the many testimonies of life-change that has come out of hundreds of women gathering together to delight in the LORD.
"We just love seeing people worshipping together," Becky said. "There are some amazing, strong believers here in this community of ours."
The Gathering was birthed from a heart to see women in the High Country unite and activate their faith in Jesus more deeply, regardless of denomination. The vision for these ongoing events is to create a space for women to collectively seek Jesus Christ and for Him to ignite hearts in a new way that followers might walk more fully in God's purpose for their lives. Keep up with the latest event information at gatheringnc.com.