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Homosexual rights activists gain influence in public schools (10/17/04)

Church’s prayer births children’s ministry (10/17/04)

Partner program revitalizes dying church (10/10/04)

Church music festival attracts variety of visitors (10/10/04)

Churches urge compassion for alienated smokers (9/19/04)

Youth ride wooden waves in church parking lots (9/12/04)

A/G, COGIC join forces through inner-city campus (9/12/04)

Christians respond to victimized women and children (8/29/04)

Growing slavic church shares new facility (8/29/04)

Couple embarks on capitol prayer tour (8/29/04)

ADHD requires multifaceted treatment approach (8/22/04)

Small congregation grows — by planting churches (8/22/04)

‘Under God’ stays in Pledge of Allegiance, at least for now (8/8/04)

Church reaches out to those feeling loss (8/8/04)

Churches act pre-emptively to reduce risk of abuse (7/25/04)

Credit cards ensnare record number of Americans (7/25/04)

Church helps out with donated CD, recycled buses (7/25/04)

New wave of pastors minister to emerging adults (7/18/04)

‘Walking Witnesses’ raise thousands for missions (7/18/04)

Healing center offers alternative medicine (7/18/04)

Growing number of Hispanics impact economy (7/11/04)

'Busy' couple finds time for compassion ministry (7/11/04)

Hand-copied Bible leaves 40-year legacy (7/11/04)

Pastor ends hunger strike when strip club promises to sell (6/27/04)

‘Military survival kit’ requests inundate A/G (6/27/04)

Fourth of July outreach draws thousands (6/27/04)

Drivers warned to steer clear of distractions (6/27/04)

Pastors face more counseling demands (6/20/04)

Church uses touch of ‘flavor’ to reach community (6/20/04)

Outrageous self-expression often starts, stops at home (6/13/04)

Runner raises $5,200 for Convoy of Hope (6/13/04)

Euphemisms tempt Christians to conveniently shed sin, guilt (5/30/04)

Funds for Easter play buy groceries instead (5/30/04)

Identity theft threatens millions of Americans (5/23/04)

Spanish speakers face challenges, opportunities in United States culture (5/16/04)

Health experts implore Americans to get fit (5/9/04)

Leaders say Christian faith stems recidivism (4/25/04)

Riders feel at home in Orlando sanctuary (4/18/04)

Churches try to keep human touch with new media (4/11/04)

Christians see Passion as ministry opportunity (3/28/04)

Tutoring improves lives, opens doors for evangelism (3/21/04)

Cybertheft costly — especially for Christians (3/14/04)

A/G women seize new ministry opportunities (2/29/04)

Investment in early spiritual maturity reaps rewards (2/22/04)

Christian families respond to foster care opportunities (2/15/04)

Childless couples grapple with emotional roller coaster, faith challenges (2/8/04)

Few men seek help from abortion grief, guilt (1/18/04)

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


2003 PE Report stories


Frontline Reports


2002 PE Report stories


2001 News Digest stories


2000 News Digest stories

Women who answer God’s call provide valuable local ministries

By Isaac Olivarez (1/11/04)

Earnestine Blakley is one of thousands of women who volunteer in Christian ministries and at churches throughout the United States. Volunteering is the reason the St. Joseph, Mo., woman left a promising career in education to form Helping Other People Excel Outreach Ministries 10 years ago. H.O.P.E.’s mission is to provide spiritual nourishment to the hurting and spiritually lost through a variety of inspirational programs.

“There’s something compelling when God calls you to do something,” says Blakley, who attends Caring First Assembly of God in St. Joseph. Blakley gave up her job and good salary to do what she saw as God’s will. She wanted to start a ministry to show needy people the hope she learned about as a poor, young black girl growing up in Steele, Mo.

Today, that call has grown into a ministry that reaches more than 2,000 people a year with hope and faith. Financed solely by donations, H.O.P.E. spreads the Word of God through programs and activities. An outreach to the elderly takes students from five local schools to area nursing homes to read to and visit with the residents on a weekly basis.

Jenny Hugger, activities director at Saxton Woods Riverside, says the residents look forward to visits from the children. “It’s a neat program because the children connect with the residents,” she says.

Timothy Jefferies, an eighth grader, first started coming to get out of class. He quickly changed his mind.

“The first time, I just wanted to get out of school,” he says. “Then I realized I wanted to make them feel happy because we’re here.”

Blakley, too, is happy the students are here.

“God has a plan for all of our lives, and God wants us to make a positive difference in the lives of other people,” Blakley says. “We find true happiness when we can lift someone up.”

Cynthia Giumarra knew God was trying to get her attention when all she could think about was ministry. After 22 years of practicing law, Giumarra retired in 1999 as assistant general counsel for Chevron’s West Coast production operations. She also managed a law office in Bakersfield, Calif., where she attends Canyon Hills Assembly of God.

“It was consuming me,” Giumarra recalls of her career. “For the last two years of my practice I spent a lot of time praying and seeking God on when was the right time to leave.”

When she did leave, she didn’t know how God would use her. She began taking classes at Canyon Hills Bible College, leading a businesswomen’s Bible study, and then began co-directing the church’s Women’s Ministries department.

“It was very clear it was the right time,” Giumarra says. “There was no mistaking it.”

Today, more than 400 women from Canyon Hills A/G are involved in various ministries throughout the community.

Fela Dominguez first started volunteering at Canyon Hills Women’s Ministries events five years ago. Now she serves on the board for Women’s Ministries under Giumarra’s leadership.

“The blessing that comes from volunteering is like being one-on-one with the Lord,” says Dominguez, who works as the office manager for a local water filtration company. “I volunteer because of the need for the women to come together in our church and our community.”

“To me, it’s more than volunteer work,” says Giumarra, who is currently working on obtaining her ministerial credentials. “I’m using all the same tools that God developed in me over 22 years, but now it’s for His service. It’s a passion.”

Cindy Cosmos has found her niche while maintaining a career as a flavor chemist at Kraft Foods Inc. in Chicago, a career she says God called her to pursue. Cosmos enjoys her role as the Illinois District Missionettes coordinator. Her involvement with Missionettes began eight years ago when she volunteered as a Stars Club leader in her local church.

“After I went to one of their campouts, I found I enjoyed working with the girls,” says Cosmos, who attends The Hills of Promise Church, a church plant in Lake in the Hills, Ill. “I came back and took the training and became a Stars Club sponsor.”

Balancing a career and a district-level volunteer position can be tough, but Cosmos says her love for people gives her the desire to continue helping the Missionettes program.

“Volunteering has to be more of a desire than just filling a need,” Cosmos says. “It has to be something that fulfills you.”

Finding that fulfillment, says Arlene Allen, national Women’s Ministries director, leads to spiritual growth.

“We know that throughout Scripture God called men and women who did not feel equipped,” Allen says. “But when they said, ‘Yes, God, I’ll do my best,’ they did unbelievable things for God.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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