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DIVINE conference delivers message of empowering women
Speakers encourage women of faith at Free Chapel in Gainesville
Women praise the Lord in song at the 2015 DIVINE Women’s Conference last weekend in Gainesville. - photo by HAILEY VAN PARYS

Upcoming events at Free Chapel in Gainesville

  • Perry Stone: 7 p.m. Oct. 2;  10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Oct. 3; and 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. Oct. 4
  • Dr. Ben Carson book signing “A More Perfect Union:” 9-11 a.m. Oct. 11
  •  Men’s dinner with author John Gray: 6 p.m. dinner and 7 p.m. service Oct. 15; $12. Register online or at FC Men table in the connection’s lounge. No registration required for the service only.
  • Baby Dedication: 9 and 11 a.m. Nov. 8.

Free Chapel services

When: 9 and 11 a.m. Sundays

Where: 3001 McEver Road, Gainesville

More info: 678-677-8300 or

As women of all shapes, sizes and ages shuffled inside the sanctuary and waited for the program to begin at Free Chapel in Gainesville, two women stood out.

Marjorie Ramel and Elizabeth Render danced, clapped, snapped and swayed to the music during the recent Divine Women’s Conference.

“Dancing can cause breakthroughs, too,” Ramel said.

Breaking through to women was the focus of the 2015 conference at Free Chapel’s campus in Gainesville. Speakers including DawnCheré Wilkerson and Lisa Harper offered inspirational words to the more than 3,600 women in attendance at the nondenominational church. And the message — “You Are Enough” — was heard loud and clear.

Third-year participant Ramel and Render, who attended for the first time, met a woman earlier in the day and told her she had a beautiful smile. The woman disagreed.

Ramel and Render then prayed with her. Afterward, the unidentified woman said she felt better about herself and accepted the beautiful compliment.

“People get delivered from their stuff here,” Ramel said.

These kind of scenes played out during the three-day conference, especially after hearing speakers such as Wilkerson.

Wilkerson, who pastors at the Rendezvous in Miami with her husband, Rich, centered her sermon on empowering women by focusing on their strength. She compared womens’ strong backbone to a palm tree.

“Palm trees can withstand some of the strongest winds,” Wilkerson said. “They were created by God with the purpose of bending, not breaking.”

Churches and women can do the same if they have a foundation built by God.

She applied the same thought to her own church, which was destroyed in 1992 by Hurricane Andrew and later rebuilt. Wilkerson said women can be rebuilt or reborn if they are established in God. Only then can they stand strong against their pasts and their flaws.

“When (your enemy) comes against you, and he reminds you of your past, you need to look back at him and say, ‘Oh no, the old things have passed away,’” she said. “(Tell him) ‘I’ve already been established (in God).’”

To fight off the enemy, Wilkerson encouraged each woman.

“You are strong. You are bold. You are courageous,” Wilkerson said. “The enemy wants to tell you otherwise.”

“There’s nothing more thrilling than looking at the enemy and telling him to go to hell,” she continued.

Several women stood, clapped and raised their hands in agreement with her.

“Ladies, this is serious. We are going to war,” she said. “God has put a weapon in your hand. God has put a sword in your hand. It is time for you to fight.”

She also drove home the conference’s key message, “You Are Enough,” with impassioned message by promoting a positive body image. Before her sermon, each woman receive a makeup wipe with the sticker “love the flaws” written on it.

“You don’t have one spot. You don’t have one blemish,” Wilkerson said. “God takes our flaws and he creates a masterpiece.”

Wilkerson has her own flaws to face.

She mentioned getting into fights with her husband, and fighting in circles with him.

“You’re not established in your weakness,” she said. “You’re not established in your past. You’re not established in your failures.”

The conference and Free Chapel is able to alleviate those who may feel that way.

“People come here to get an answer from the Lord,” Ramel said.

And they apparently get them.

“They just make you feel so good here,” Gainesville native Wanda Carswell said.

She wasn’t alone in her sentiments.

Free Chapel member Dominique Michel keeps coming back to the conference each year.

“I love it,” Michel said. “I get to mingle with the women in my community. I just love the fellowship.”

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