Arts

Christian women come together to share faith, work for social change

 Photo courtesy of Matt Sangalli

As I walked in to the Algonquin Commons Theatre, a number of young men greeted me enthusiastically, but I looked past and saw them: the women.

Twice a year, MyChurch, a local Ottawa Christian church, hosts a We Are Sisterhood conference at Algonquin College. More than 300 women from Ottawa and other cities in Ontario—many of them college and university students—attended the event on Oct. 26.

MyChurch’s Sisterhood movement has its roots in the Hillsong Church in Sydney, Australia. In the 1990s, Pastor Bobbie Houston challenged women to not only believe in their potential, but also to make their potential a reality so they could positively affect the world around them.

This challenge deeply touched MyChurch Pastor Julie Davidson, who started the Sisterhood movement in Ottawa in 2012. While studying in Australia, Davidson noticed many of the women who attended the Hillsong Sisterhood Conference were hurting and longing to believe they were valuable, and the challenge helped them. She decided to bring the movement to Canada to see women rise up and reclaim the value they had come to believe was lost.

This year’s Sisterhood event commemorated the fighter instinct in women. Guest speaker Monica Prescott, a pastor at City Life Church in Leduc, Alberta, challenged women to not let fear and the safety of comfortable living keep them from pursuing a life that is more than just ok. Prescott further challenged women to follow their hearts’ desires and strive for an intimate relationship with God.

“I knew the life-changing effect it had on women,” said Anisa Stoli, a first-year education student at U of O who attended the event for the third time. “So I decided to make it a tradition with my girlfriends to go to every Sisterhood event by making it a retreat where we spend time together dressing up, taking pictures, pampering ourselves, and most of all, being inspired by the amazing talks for a whole weekend.”

Anastasia Young, a fourth-year education student at U of O, felt the theme of the event spoke of women’s unity in nature.

“If you look at our decorations, we had a mix of camouflage with flowers and it really shows women’s true nature: we are fierce, we are strong, we are capable,” Young said. “But at the same time, we still have the ability to be soft-spoken, to be loving, to be compassionate. We have both sides.”

In addition to its spiritual message, the event is also a night of pampering; participants could get manicures, hair styling, and massages, and there were buffet tables covered with snacks. Young volunteered to prepare food and provide manicures, saying she wanted to “love on women and make them feel appreciated.”

From the students I spoke with at the event, I noticed they all wanted to feel beautiful, to feel loved, and to be a part of something bigger than themselves. All in all, they wanted to know they were valuable and they were not alone.

We Are Sisterhood draws inspiration from women like Mother Theresa who have created movements driven by their faith. The events try to bring groups of women together to help raise their self-esteem and work for social change.