A Brief History of Reaching Women

On a January evening in 1979, eleven women met in Bluffton, Ohio to discuss the possibility of sponsoring a daylong retreat for women, which would have a spiritual emphasis.

These eleven women represented several different churches, occupations, abilities, and backgrounds, but they had one thing in common – a desire to share with other women about God’s love and the message of salvation through Jesus Christ. On that night, after much prayer and discussion, they were committed to sponsoring a retreat the following fall.

They prayerfully chose the name of “Reaching Women” for their committee, as their purpose was to reach other women for the Lord even as they themselves desired to “reach”, or grow, in their own spiritual walk.

That first retreat was a real step of faith. They had no experience and no money, but they did have a lot of enthusiasm and confidence that if God wanted such a retreat in this area, then He would direct their efforts and provide the resources. It was a real source of encouragement over the next several months to see how the Lord was working out all of the details for that first Reaching Women Retreat, entitled, “Women Designed by God”, which was held on Oct. 6, 1979, in Marbeck Center on the Bluffton College campus. Nearly four hundred women attended. Peg Rankin was the first guest speaker. The retreat offered six mini-sessions, and Anita Mowery provided the music for the day and composed a special theme song, “Reaching Women, O Lord for Thee…”

For more than 30 plus years, outstanding women of God have come to be our speakers. Some of these include: Mary Whelchel, Carol Kent, Patsy Clairmont, Dorie Van Stone, Jennie Dimkoff, Julie Baker, Angela Thomas, Lisa Whelchel, Nicole Johnson, Lisa Terkeurst, Lisa Harper and Anita Renfroe. We have also been blessed with beautiful music by many talented musicians including: Damaris Carbaugh, Kelly Connor, Julie Baker, and Kevin Mabry.

Today in 2015, we are again taking great steps of faith as the original eleven women in 1979. We celebrate the history, but we press onward to how God calls us to reach women today and in the future. We do this with much prayer, fasting and complete trust in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We know that many women have renewed their commitment to the Lord at these retreats, and a number of first-time salvation decisions have been made. Reaching Women praises the Lord for His goodness and faithfulness!