GEMS Leaders Gather for Mutual Encouragement

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GEMS (Girls Everywhere Meeting the Savior) counselors from all over the United States, Canada, and as far away as Africa traveled to Bozeman, Mont., to be encouraged in their distinctive leadership role. This year 370 women attended the annual leadership conference on July 21-24. GEMS  is a girl’s club ministry supported by the Christian Reformed Church.

Conference manager Alecia Van Hulzen said, “Every counselor walks alongside these precious girls, and we believe we have the unique privilege to help encourage and invest in these amazing women.”

Each morning, Colleen Reinders and Grace Moes opened the general session with a time of worship. Reinders and Moes have been leading worship at GEMS conferences for the past 20 years. Keynote speaker Liz Curtis Higgs offered messages from the book of Ruth. “Each day she shared a little more about Naomi, Boaz, and Ruth’s story and helped us see the redemption in this story as well as each of our own,” said Van Hulzen.

Helena Bootsma, a member of Community Christian Reformed Church of Frankford, Ont., said, “I appreciated the worship times and training on next season’s theme, Love Overflows. I am thankful for the blessing of this wonderful time of fellowship and refreshment.”

GEMS leaders had the opportunity to choose among 45 different workshops with topics such as “Connecting with Kids In a Wireless World” and “Threading the Theme throughout the Year.” 

There was also time for fellowship. The women attended a pitchfork fondue dinner at a nearby ranch. Many also participated in whitewater rafting, zip-lining, a bus tour of Yellowstone Park, or a historical ghost town tour. “This is a fun way to build relationships and to fellowship and learn from women from around the world in a laid-back setting,” said Van Hulzen.

“Our heartbeat is for every woman who serves to know that we support them and will walk alongside them,” she added.

About the Author

Amy Toornstra is a freelance news correspondent for The Banner. She lives in Salem, Oregon.

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