We can all be extraordinary. That was the theme of the third annual Phoebe Palmer fundraising breakfast held May 6. One such extraordinary woman is Bernadette Arthur, Race Relations coordinator for the Christian Reformed Church, who was honored as this year’s “emergent leader.”
The breakfast at John M. Perkins Centre in Hamilton, Ont., drew women of all ages as well as some men to honor three area women for the leadership they bring to their respective roles, ministries, and callings. “This city is bursting at the seams with extraordinary women, and it is wonderful to be here to honor three of them today,” said Sue Carr, emcee at the breakfast.
The other honorees were Sister Carole Ann as “established leader” for her work in initiating and establishing the “Out of the Cold” program in Hamilton and Julia Veenstra as “entrepreneurial leader” for her work as an artist and philanthropist.
A brief history of the fundraiser’s namesake, Phoebe Palmer, was presented by Nina Schuurman, a recent Redeemer University College graduate. She spoke of how a series of mishaps brought this evangelist to Hamilton in 1857, sparking a significant time of prayer and revival that reached far beyond the city. “You never know what minor inconveniences in your life the Spirit might use to do something great,” Schuurman pointed out.
Arthur was honored for her work toward racial reconciliation. She told the story of how leadership and faith became united in her life and highlighted key moments in her life where God had shaped her faith and leadership skills. She acknowledged her mother, who was also at the breakfast, for modeling leadership for her. She described her experiences of leading a team in Kenya and her recent struggles as hate crimes and racial discrimination escalated globally and in Hamilton.
“Although my faith was being beaten, it was also a time of maturing,” said Arthur. “I realized I couldn’t be a leader if faith was not at the center. My identity can only be about who I am in Christ.”