CC Joshua Springs Women’s Conference
CC Joshua Springs Women’s Conference

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Everlasting to Everlasting: Joshua Springs Calvary Chapel Women’s Conference

Story by Kathy Symborski
Photos by Dylan Hudson

COVID-19 concerns and governmental regulations challenged—but couldn’t stop—the annual women’s retreat at Joshua Springs Calvary Chapel in Yucca Valley, CA, in October 2020. Merrily Hagerman, wife of Senior Pastor Jerel Hagerman, is a seasoned veteran of women’s retreats and conferences, actively involved in women’s ministries for more than 38 years. This was the first year that gave her pause as she planned the retreat, themed Everlasting to Everlasting.

Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:19

Wide shot of the conference room

At Joshua Springs Calvary Chapel's annual women’s conference in October 2020, 500 women gathered to learn more about the Lord by exploring the theme Everlasting to Everlasting. In this picture, guest speaker Karen Pulley of Calvary Chapel Old Bridge, NJ, discusses the “I AM” statements of Jesus.

She felt a check in her spirit about proceeding with the usual retreat structure, normally held at a conference center. Overnight lodging, sharing rooms, financial worries, job losses, and health concerns due to the pandemic were all looming in the forefront of her mind. But the challenges of COVID were no match for this sprightly, joy-filled pastor’s wife. She and her team went into fervent prayer about the event beginning in July.

“We knew we had to think outside the box on this one,” Merrily recognized, “and the idea to just hold a women’s conference on our own campus began to evolve.” Confident God was doing a new thing, she forged ahead with plans for a two-day event, fully catered, with wonderful gifts for each woman, adamant it would be completely free of charge. “It’s been a hurting time for women—they haven’t felt pampered or appreciated, they’ve worked harder, they have lost jobs and family members [to COVID],” she observed.

Lady baking

Audrey Huether of Joshua Springs CC demonstrates in a baking workshop how cookies are different but still delicious, representing to the women how much God loves them individually.

A total of 500 ladies arrived Friday evening, October 9, where tables were invitingly spread throughout the large facility: in the gymnasium, on the veranda, in the sanctuary and the chapel, and even the welcome center. “We had a team of eight women who sewed handmade makeup bags, complete with tins of organic lip balm, almond oil lotion, and lavender Shea butter. As each participant entered, they received their gift, a nametag, and were invited to sit wherever they wanted. Our place is so big, and everything was easily spaced apart, but they paid close attention to how close they were to others,” reassured Merrily.

But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children’s children. Psalm 103:17

“Our theme was Everlasting to Everlasting, to remind ourselves that God’s blessings are towards us and His face is upon us. Every time someone taught, we would sing “The [Aaronic] Blessing” song, all through the conference. It was just amazing!” Merrily continued, “Our women’s worship team, 14 of the most gifted women, led us with superb songs and the Holy Spirit met us there with a new infilling.”

Woman speaks at podium

Workshop speaker Gina Pliss of Joshua Springs CC speaks about Everlasting Kindness, especially during these difficult days.

Teachings

Guest speaker Karen Pulley, the women’s ministry leader at Calvary Chapel Old Bridge, NJ, guided the group Friday evening through the “I AM” statements of Jesus—Bread of Life, Living Water, Light of the World, Good Shepherd—and brought the message back around to the Everlasting.”

Saturday’s itinerary included three consecutive workshops, allowing all attendees to participate, as well as an opportunity for personal counseling and prayer in the chapel. Women from the church shared messages on the theme of Everlasting.

Everlasting Kindness by Gina Pliss was a poignant reminder of the importance of kindness in the midst of current events.

Everlasting Love by Audrey Huether integrated a demonstration preparing no-bake cookies into her talk. Using snicker doodles and chocolate chip cookies, she reflected on how women often want to be the more popular of the two—but God uses each for His purposes. Everyone received a bagged cookie and the recipe.

Woman speaks at podium

Merrily Hagerman, wife of Joshua Springs CC Senior Pastor Jerel Hagerman, encourages the women. As she and her team organized the conference, they changed the normal event structure, moving it to their large church building to address COVID-19 concerns.

Everlasting Peace by Lori Rinkert reassured attendees that God’s eyes are upon their children, and their children’s children even without us seeing evidence of that right away. They could have peace because God knows their families.

“'And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams.'” Acts 2:17

Changed Lives

As Merrily shared the Gospel message at the altar call, “hands went up all over the room,” she declared. She invited those needing a fresh touch of the Holy Spirit, those who have “run dry with pain, sorrow, and fear” to come down the center aisle. About 75 women responded with arms raised, tears falling. “It felt like He was hovering, wrapping us in a cocoon to comfort us. If we could have looked up quickly enough, I was sure we would’ve seen Jesus!” she added.

On Sunday after the conference, Merrily encountered a woman who shared with her how she was changed spiritually. “She accepted the Lord at my altar call, went forward, and was filled with the Holy Spirit. When she read her Bible the next day, she said it was all so clear to her; she is now passionate to read the Word.”

Staff handing out cookies

Calvary Bible Institute student Sarah Box hands out bagged cookies during a conference workshop.

Merrily continued, “I don’t know if we are in the last of the Last Days, but it sure feels darker than before. But what happened that day, that’s exactly what He did, He poured out His Spirit!”

But as for me, I trust in You, O LORD; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in Your hand. Psalm 31:14-15a

Reminders of Better Times

Saturday night ended with a New York Steak dinner with all the trimmings. But the “cutest thing ever, was many of the ladies brought their own steak sauce! Word got out they were having steak, so they came prepared,” she laughed. “But really, it was like they could be normal again.”

Merrily took on a more serious tone, “I was hesitant to say this at first, but there has been no sickness since the conference. We were months in fervent prayer that no one would get sick. With 500 women coming in, some even flying in from out of state, we were aware how easily that could have happened. But our days are in the Lord’s hands, not a disease’s. When we realize that, it gives you freedom to live your life. You can’t love your life so much that you forget God is in control of it.”

Merrily feels she may hold the conference this way next year, as people might still have lingering concerns about the virus. “We have to remain fluid because we don’t always know what God is doing. We must change our agenda because if we really believe this is all about getting that last person into the Kingdom, then we have to follow Him!”

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Woman singing worship

Larissa Rogers is part of a team leading women in worship at the two-day event.

 

Women sitting at conference

Women soak in the scripturally based teachings and workshops.

 

Women at lunch

Lunch was provided in the open-air dining all over the campus to encourage social distancing.

 

Women fellowship

Women enjoy fellowship and joyful moments at the conference.

 

Women fellowshipping

Two women share a moment of laughter outside of the building.

 

Women play worship music

Part of the worship team. They led the women in the song “The Blessing” throughout the conference.

 

Women praying on stage

A worshipful moment at the conference. Left to right, Larissa Rogers, Merrily Hagerman, Karen Pulley, and Haley Enos.

 

Women sing worship

Two members of the worship team praise the Lord.

 

Women singing worship on stage

Throughout the conference, the prayer was that the Holy Spirit would “flood this place and fill the atmosphere.” Merrily reported that He did, and 75 women responded to an altar call.

 

Hand lifted during worship

A woman from the audience praises the Lord as workshop speaker Lori Rinkert speaks on Everlasting Peace.

 

Woman playing guitar and singing

Worship leader Haley Enos plays guitar.

 

Woman playing guitar and singing

Worship leader Larissa Rogers.

 

Woman raising her arms in worship

One of the worship team women raises her arms in praise.

 

All verses above are quoted from the New King James Version.

© 2020 Calvary Chapel Magazine. All rights reserved. Articles or photographs may not be reproduced without the written permission of CCM. All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.® Used by permission.

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