Seven years ago our Metro District family experienced a very confusing and dark time. A gifted pastor’s wife was struggling with so much pain that she sought an escape. Was she struggling with feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, anxiety, depression, trauma, loneliness, or side effects of medications? Unfortunately, we will never know.
Initially the idea of a women’s program was birthed out of this urgent need. Were other women in ministry struggling or ministering out of obligation and not God’s freedom? How could we help and equip all women for more effective ministry?
Prayers for more training opportunities for women who minister in the church had been going on for many years and women were waiting on God’s timing. It was clear the timing was now! In August, 2011 the Metro District approached Nyack College/Alliance Theological Seminary to consider dreaming about a certificate program for women. This program would prepare women to engage in ministry in their local church and beyond.
Leadership from each organization collaborated to create a certificate program for women to provide biblical and theological training and spiritual formation. A diverse team of women with various educational, theological and ministry backgrounds formed to plan and establish the mission, purpose, goals, and objectives of the program.
The Empower Program officially opened for classes in September 2012. Fifty women enrolled in the 8-month course. They reported growth, encouragement, and confidence in their biblical knowledge, as well as experiencing transformation and healing within their souls. They loved the format of biblical and theological training coupled with spiritual formation classes and mentoring groups. Each year women were so enthusiastic to continue that a second course of the program began in 2013. By 2014, three courses were in place for continuing development of the Empower women who were now mentoring and leading others.
What began as a need, combined with a dream has become a reality – EMPOWER!