- Greg Bartram
For the last time with all of the founding members, the Women of Faith organization will hold its conference Loved: The Farewell Tour July 24 and 25 at Cox Convention Center, 1 Myriad Gardens. The two-day conference invites women from all denominations of Christianity to join in a weekend full of fellowship and worship.
Since 1996, Women of Faith has traveled across the United States, sharing life stories full of grief, pain, joy and assurance. This tour is the last one with all of the founders of the Women of Faith organization present on stage together. For 20 years, the tour has presented authors and musicians whose stories resonate with audiences by showing women theyre not alone in their struggles.
Sandi Patty was born in Oklahoma City and raised in Indiana. Her family moved back to OKC seven years ago, and her husband serves on the staff at Crossings Community Church. She has toured with Women of Faith for 10 years, speaking about her trials and triumphs in life while singing with her family by her side.
When we kind of started traveling with Women of Faith, not only did they love on me, they ended up loving on my whole family, Patty said. We just feel so grateful for that.
Twenty-five years ago, she underwent a public divorce and said she made some choices along the way that didnt help matters much. Patty described her church as being a safe place for her and her family to heal.
They walked us through some real important steps in restoration, Patty said.
In 2005, she released an autobiography outlining her familys journey through her career as a famous gospel singer, the plight of her success, her divorce and the path she and her family took toward forgiveness and peace. Patty said the book goes through some of her toughest seasons but shows how God was extremely faithful in the midst of it all.
I really do believe that there is a lot of freedom that comes with just being honest about our life, Patty said in an Oklahoma Gazette interview, so I wanted to share my journey in hopes that it could encourage somebody else ... as they may find themselves in difficult places, and that they could know that theyre not alone ... and theres hope.
When Patty was invited to tour with Women of Faith, she was fearful the audience would not respond to her well since she is a divorcee.
Even though I kept waiting for [Women of Faith] to uninvite me, they never did, she said. I just feel like Ive gotten to be a part of the family for the last 10 years.
Patty said audience members have related to her story and expressed that they have found themselves in similar situations. she hopes that her segment of the tour will encourage women and provide some guidance.
A lot of women find themselves in a blended family, she said. I think having my family as a blended family, we can share a lot on what we did wrong and a couple things that we got right along the way.
According to Patty, a blended family is a result from some type of loss within either family. Whether from a divorce or a death, a blended family suffers from loss even if there is a remarriage. Patty said people in these situations need to be mindful of that in order to navigate the elements of creating the new family.
I think that makes it unique, she said. It doesnt have to make it bad, but it definitely makes it unique.
Patty has developed such a close bond with the other women on the tour that each weekend is like group therapy. One of the things she enjoys most about Women of Faith is getting to hear her friends stories.
I always love listening to my friends share, she said. When they teach their common sense for life, their approach to faith, their view of learning to see ourselves as God sees us those kinds of things are just invaluable to me on my journey.
For two decades, Women of Faith has welcomed 5 million people to their events in 89 cities across the country. Patty believes conferences such as Loved: The Farewell Tour are important for women to take time out of their busy to schedules to attend.
I have found that I am a better woman when I take the time to let God speak to me alongside other women, Patty said. I come back being a better mom and being a better wife and being a better first and foremost woman of God.
Oklahoma City is the third stop out of 18 on the tour, and Patty is excited for the event to be held in her hometown.
Its like all of my friends from all of my places are going to be together in one place, Patty said. It makes me very happy. Its like Im introducing my Oklahoma friends to my Women of Faith friends and vice versa.
Loved: The Farewell Tour features guest speakers such as Duck Dynasty reality star Korie Robertson; Patsy Clairmont, an author who has struggled with agoraphobia in the past; author Luci Swindoll; Sheila Walsh, a singer, author and Bible teacher from Scotland and Gretchen Carlson. Grammy-nominated Christian rock band Building 429 will perform along with Grammy award winner Sandi Patty.
Purchase tickets at womenoffaith.com. Pattys book, Broken on the Back Row: A Journey Through Grace and Forgiveness, can also be found on the website.
Print headline: Faith parade, A group of women share their songs and stories to help others find inspiration.