Start Your Own Gathering for Hope
Here are some ideas for getting your local GFH up and running:
- Invite some of your girl friends over to your home, church, or other location where all of you can share your hearts openly. Below are some questions you can use in an invitation:
Are you aware that women and children around the world, including our very own cities, live under the weight of oppression and injustice on a daily basis?
Do you want to learn what is being done to bring about their healing and empowerment?
Are you sensing God calling you to discern your role as we seek His hope in this effort?
- Read and discuss, as a group, Half the Sky, by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, and Half the Church, by Carolyn Custis James.
- Read through the below information and begin to discern the specifics for your GFH.
- Invite speakers to broaden your awareness of the issues of oppression and injustice and what is being done to help women and children to find true healing and empowerment.
- Pray, pray, pray!
- Contact Brooke with suggestions, questions, and ideas to share with or obtain from other GFHs.
May our earthly efforts result in eternal fruitfulness!
Brooke Sulahian, Founder
Gathering for Hope
Mission/Guiding Bible Verse
As you build your GFH, it is important to establish a mission as this will guide your efforts and give GFH members an idea of what your group is all about.
The mission of the initial, Lexington, Massachusetts-based GFH is “To encourage each other as we learn about the worldwide oppression of women and children and follow God’s leading to work for their healing and empowerment.”
As we are serving God in this endeavor, we also suggest that you select a guiding Bible verse. Our guiding Bible verse is “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” (Proverbs 31:8-9)
The initial focus of GFH was to educate, encourage and mobilize each member to discern her calling and step out in faith to follow her unique path. However, your GFH may choose to focus on one area of oppression and injustice. God will guide you. Your focus may also change as your GFH evolves.
The purpose of your GFH provides the reason for your gatherings and drives your speaker/topic selection, meeting format, and membership, among other factors.
As an example, the purpose of the initial Lexington, Massachusetts-based GFH is two-fold:
- To provide a safe place for women to come when sensing a call or tug on their hearts from God to reach out and help others so they do not have to step out in isolation, and
- To provide a mechanism for women to meet others with similar passions and possibly step out in faith and serve together.
Meeting Format and Frequency
Once you have your GFH mission and purpose, it can be helpful to set up a regular meeting schedule and format.
The initial GFH meets the second Wednesday of the month from 7-9 p.m. in a building on our church campus. Ideally speaking, we alternate each month by having a speaker/topic one month, a praying/sharing session the next month, a speaker/topic the following month, etc. We will make exceptions to this plan based on a speaker’s availability, but will not go three consecutive months without a praying/sharing session.
The speaker/topic evenings are a chance to learn about:
- The local and global injustice and oppression of women and children,
- Current efforts to provide resources and/or assistance to those living under the weight of injustice and oppression, and
- How GFH members can get involved.
The praying/sharing evenings are an opportunity to:
- Pray with and for one another,
- Learn how God is using GFH to provide clarity about women’s callings to serve and/or discuss how God may be speaking to us/calling us,
- Seek input or advice on current or future outreach efforts,
- Provide encouragement to those taking a stand for those in need, and
- Celebrate victories for those who cannot yet speak for themselves as a result of GFH-based efforts.
How you communicate within your GFH is critical. It is important to tailor your communication to those in your GFH to ensure all are on the same page and feel part of the group. For example, all members may not be on e-mail and/or Facebook.
As an example, within the initial GFH, we currently use the following communication tools:
- Group E-mail – Providing meeting announcements/updates, leader encouragement/insight, updates on outreach opportunities, etc.
- Facebook Page (“Gathering for Hope” and “Gathering for Hope Lexington”) – Sharing related topics and updates with the Facebook community, encouraging all who view the page to take action on behalf of women and children living under oppression and injustice, providing meeting announcements/updates, announcing events, etc.
- Private Facebook Group (“Reaching out through Gathering for Hope”) – Sharing new ideas and soliciting help/partnering/encouragement within our GFH within the privacy of our Facebook Group
- Twitter – Sharing related topics and updates with the Twitter community, encouraging all who view the updates to take action on behalf of women and children living under oppression and injustice, announcing meetings/events, etc.
- GFH website – Check it out at www.gatheringforhope.org! This site is used to share updates within and grow the current GFH community as well as provide the tools to encourage and enable new women to start up GFH chapters in their own communities.
GFH membership is important as this also impacts your speakers, events, and focus. Membership of the initial GFH is focused on women only and mature girls/daughters are invited on a case-by-case basis. It is our hope to have some future gatherings/events tailored to mature young women, mature young men, and men and/or a combination of all of the above. God will guide us.
Additionally, some members will know their specific calling and some will still be seeking God’s direction. We are all walking together, supporting each other and learning along the way. All are welcome.
The presence of more people offers the opportunity of greater diversity of input, experience, insight, and support. The initial GFH grew by word of mouth as members began bringing friends. Growth was also found through interactions when someone shared about the group and reached out to me to send an e-mail invitation. We have been open to all women who show interest. It is my hope that future members will come our way via our website, Facebook, Twitter, promotions, etc.
It is important to know what your members are currently doing in the area of service to those in need and any new related efforts in which they embark. This can be a source of meeting topics, as a member can be the speaker for an evening. Also, this can provide ideas for others in the group who may want to come along side another member with a ministry/outreach and/or simply provide ideas for new ministry/outreach efforts. This information will serve as a valuable resource for all GFHs.
Integration with other GFHs
As more GFHs are established, it is critical for all GFHs to stay connected and build upon each other’s strengths. In this, we can support each other, co-host events, attend each other’s events, serve alongside each other and learn from each other. We can use the GFH website to ensure this cohesion of all GFH groups.
As groups are formed, I will reach out to each leader and discern additional communication methods to attain this goal.