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Women who answer God's call provide valuable local ministries (1/11/04)

Pastors predict bleak future if local casinos open (12/28/03)

Soap, figurines, candles keep books company in Christian stores (12/21/03)

In order to form a more perfect union (11/30/03)

Federal Marriage Amendment receives Fellowship’s endorsement (11/23/03)

Drug czar congratulates Teen Challenge (11/16/03)

Christian fiction no long back-shelf item (10/19/03)

DREAM3 benefits churches (10/19/03)

Youth rise to DC03 challenge (10/12/03)

Ministry uses drama, music to touch city for Christ (9/28/03)

Displeased viewers protest raunchy programs (9/21/03)

Grit, determination key to cities blocking cable pornography (8/31/03)

Economic slump doesn't always derail giving (8/24/03)

Ruling threatens family, Christian leaders say (8/17/03)

Anti-aging options require balanced approach to health, beauty (8/10/03)

Convoy of Hope reaches out to inner-city neighborhood (7/27/03)

Fight for the flag moves to nation’s schools (7/20/03)

Drama speaks volumes to alienated veterans (7/13/03)

Church's integrity well received following nightmarish ordeal (6/29/03)

Tornadoes cut wide swath across nation's midsection (6/22/03)

Accountability partners provide human feedback that filters don't (6/15/03)

Checking out your horoscope? God advises you to skip it (6/8/03)

Christian filmmakers pursue wider market success (5/25/03)

Intervention is key to preventing suicide (5/18/03)

Adoption often right decision for young expectant mothers (5/11/03)

Dallas-based ministry keeps inmates out of jail (4/27/03)

Medical analysis of Jesus' death generates interest (4/20/03)

Small-town church reaches community (4/13/03)

Young married couples lulled by false sense of security (3/30/03)

Virtual gambling days may be numbered (3/23/03)

Contemporary Christian music copes with its continuing success (3/16/03)

A/G prayer event set for gathering in nation's capital (3/9/03)

Volunteers give church voice in community (2/23/02)

Federal law protects churches in zoning battles (2/16/03)

Singles find cyberspace dating not always match made in heaven (2/9/03)

Predators often plan strategies long in advance (1/19/03)

The Cross and the Switchblade still makes impact 40 years later (1/12/03)

Frontline Reports

2002 PE Report stories

2001 News Digest stories

2000 News Digest stories

Volunteers give church voice in community

By Isaac Olivarez (February 23, 2003)

The National Association of Resale and Thrift Shops estimates there are more than 15,000 thrift stores across the United States. Local and independently owned and operated thrift stores make up 72 percent of the market.

Life Center Assembly of God in Tacoma, Wash. (Fulton Buntain, pastor) became part of that market when its Women’s Ministries department opened Life Center Thrift Store in September 2001. The store — which sells everything from clothing, furniture and home décor to books, music and electronic equipment — is located in a 3,000-square-foot storefront building. The congregation supplies nearly 80 percent of the inventory and also supplies the workforce. More than 50 women volunteer four-hour shifts each month.

Ava Oleson, director of women’s ministries for Life Center A/G, says first-year profits totaled nearly $30,000.

“This provided funds for us to disperse to multiple benevolence ministry needs and community outreaches,” Oleson says, noting every dollar earned by the store is allocated back to the church, which operates a school — Life Christian Academy — and two senior citizen facilities. Oleson says the store is designed to provide a practical outreach to the community while helping Life Center women realize their skills and potential in ministry. “Our women have a passion to make a difference in the community,” Oleson says, “and their lives are being changed because they are giving their service to the Lord.”

Life Center Thrift Store made such an impact in the community that Women’s Ministries opened a second store last September in another part of the city of 194,000. Oleson says this is an example of women’s ability to take on a leadership role in ministry. But, she says, there is more work to be done. “It is the woman’s responsibility to educate herself about leadership development,” Oleson says. “There’s more potential in women now than ever because they are in more management positions across the board.”

According to Lillian Sparks, national Women’s Ministries director, 80 percent of the local church volunteer force is female; a statistic she says solidifies women’s presence in ministry. Sparks says Life Center Thrift Store is an example of what women in ministry can accomplish.

“For years women believed the challenges of being a mother were greater than their ability and availability for ministry,” Sparks says. “Now women are believing that God works even in impossible situations, whether they are working women or stay-at-home moms.” Sparks says women are at the threshold of an incredible awakening in the local church for what God is going to accomplish through them.

Leadership training resources, including a new curriculum, are now available to equip women leaders to develop ministries tailored to the needs of their local church. “Women’s Ministries is about women in ministry,” Sparks says. “God has a place for every woman, whether it’s in her home, community or local church.”

The Women’s Ministries theme for 2003 is “Can You Believe It?” Today, on National Women’s Ministries Day, churches have the opportunity to honor women in the church and encourage them to expand their outreaches.

“We have nearly 250,000 women who say they’re active in ministry, but we know we have 1.4 million women in the A/G,” Sparks says. “My goal is that we would have 1 million women who say, ‘I’ve found my place of ministry in the church and I’m fulfilled because I am doing God’s will.’ ”


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