Oregon Women's Retreat Streamed Live

It was new and it was daring, but this year’s Oregon Conference women’s ministries team was determined to try it. They wanted more women to have access to the blessings of the women’s retreats — women who couldn’t travel, who couldn’t be away from home overnight or who couldn’t afford to go. After all, even if the retreat was full at 400 women, that would still leave thousands more who were missing out. As good as watching a recording might be, the team wanted women to be able to see it as it was happening ... live. A camera crew was put together by Gary McLain, Oregon Conference communication director, and the invitation was made for women to put together groups to join the retreat via live streaming on the Internet.

People had lots of questions:

"Could we get at least five sites to participate? There were nearly three times that many."

"Would anyone still attend the main site? It was full at 410, and dozens more had to be turned away."

"Wouldn’t the technology be too complicated for most churches? With the event being streamed live, all a church needed was a good Internet connection and a way to project the programming."

The planning team was determined that the presence of the cameras would not take over the planning. Their goal was for it to be professionally done, of course, but they didn’t want the retreat to become such a production that the feeling of authenticity was lost. “We just worked to put on a fabulous, Spirit-filled retreat,” they explain, “and then to share that experience with as many groups around the conference as possible.”

“I was impressed that the presentations were so effective on screen,” says Mary McIntosh of the Riverside (Wash.) Church. “We were with you.”

“We thoroughly enjoyed our women’s retreat here in Grants Pass,” says Heide Wilson. “Thank you so much for making it possible for us to view [the event] from the comfort of our own home town. ... Some of the women were even inviting their neighbors.”

Seven sessions were streamed live, including four with keynote speaker Elizabeth Talbot, the breakout sessions by Ginny Allen and Lucille Ball, and the program portion of Sunday morning’s prayer breakfast. Sabbath morning’s main session included the personal testimony of Noah’s wife, as portrayed by Janice Nelson.

Wanda Vaz and Timari Brower also presented breakouts at the Eagle Crest site, and Nita Yuros led out in the teens’ program.

Sites had a great deal of flexibility in how they planned their event. A group in Baker City gathered on cozy living room couches and watched the retreat on a big TV. The Lents Church in Portland had it projected on the wall in their gym — and added a Saturday night slumber party option. Some churches asked women to sign up in advance; others invited women to just show up.

The next retreat will be Oct. 17–19 at Eagle Crest Resort, with JoAnn Davidson. Will it be streamed live again? Yes. Meanwhile anyone can watch the 2013 retreat for free on the women’s ministries page of OregonConference.org.

To see more photos, visit Oregon Conference Women’s Ministries on Facebook.

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