For two days women around the world from all walks of life and all Christian denominations will ponder the same single question: What IF we lived like Jesus?
These same women will connect with each other to find the answers to the question through IF: Gatherings across the country, including the first one in Gainesville.
IF: Gathering’s goal is to “gather, equip and unleash the next generation of women to live out their purpose,” according to its website (www.ifgathering.com).
During the sessions, women will hear a variety of speakers and then have 15- to 20-minute breaks for conversation groups. They will discuss the provided questions and talk about their struggles with unbelief.
“I hope this will push women out of their comfort zones, and they’ll form new relationships that will last until next year’s gathering,” said C.J. Greene, a member of Gospel City Church who has attended an IF: Gathering at her church last year.
The local session of IF: Gainesville will be Feb. 5-6 in Cervantes Theatre for the Arts at Riverside Military Academy, 2001 Riverside Drive, in Gainesville. The first session will begin at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 5, with live music from Katie Morgan of 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville and Harvest Bashta Parker who recently toured with Third Day on Saturday.
Tickets are $27 per person or $22 for women in a group of 10 or more. Tickets include snacks, drinks and coffee. Lunch on Saturday is not included, but attendees will have the opportunity to purchase items from food trucks on site.
Tickets can be purchased at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/if-gainesville-tickets-1529507799 or at the door.
During the workshop, eight to 10 women based at the IF home site in Austin, Texas, will have their sermons simulcast across the country, including Gainesville. Like with many conferences, the speakers identities are a secret until the session starts. Former speakers have included Christine Caine, Jennie Allen and Bianca Olthoff, among others.
“Last year, my favorite speaker was Jen Hatmaker,” Greene said. “She’s entertaining and always puts a great spin on the scripture she’s learning.”
But it is the local gathering where the magic happens, according to the IF website. IF movement believes that it is “the secret sauce of what God is doing through IF.”
After experiencing an IF: Gathering at Brasstown Valley Resort, Rebekah Rico decided to bring the workshop to Gainesville.
“After that retreat, God really laid it on my heart to have a gathering of women in Hall County,” said Rico, who is host of IF: Gainesville and a member of Gospel City Church, which meets at the J.A. Walters YMCA. “It was just a great way to bring women together with some sound biblical teachings and worship.”
Thus IF: Gainesville was born. And Rico hopes many women outside of her church will attend.
“A lot of times, women are focused on ‘Well this is my class, or this is my church’s retreat,’ so my heart has been to see women lay down some of those dividing lines down and come together and worship,” she said.
Rico added as part of IF: Gainesville’s local ministry, they plan to partner with others to address the needs of the Hall County foster care system.
“I’m so excited for the community spotlight on the foster care system,” Greene said. “We’re going to have a foster care panel with people from DFCS and some others that are going to speak to the women and share facts about the foster care crisis in Hall County.”
Rico hopes this will bring change to the community.
“I’m hoping to see women come together to enjoy the Lord and link arms with other women to bring a change to our community,” Rico said.