Nearly two hundred women attended "A Journey in Faith: A Conference for Orthodox Christian Women," held on Saturday, February 8, 1997, at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Milwaukee, Wisc. Participants from twenty-six Orthodox Christian parishes in Wisconsin, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Georgia came to hear speakers Khouria Frederica Mathewes-Green and Rev. John Matusiak as well as to participate in a variety of breakout sessions that addressed spiritual concerns and social issues of interest to Orthodox Christian women.
Co-chairpersons for the event were Cathleen Callen from Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Church and Rev. James Dokos, proistamenos from Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church. The conference steering committee was represented by fifteen individuals from five parishes, including Annunciation Greek, Sts. Constantine and Helen Greek, Holy Trinity Russian, St. Nicholas Antiochian Churches and St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Cathedral. All parishes are located in the greater Milwaukee area.
Keynote speaker Frederica Mathewes-Green is the wife of an Antiochian priest, author, nationally syndicated columnist and commentator for National Public Radio. In her address, Mathewes-Green described her personal journey to Christianity, in particular to Orthodox Christianity. Converts in the audience identified with the many anecdotes she shared about becoming Orthodox. She also expressed sincere gratitude to the many lifelong Orthodox Christians who provided Mathewes-Green and her family with much love and warmth as they were received into the faith. The entire audience was inspired by her enthusiasm for the faith and openness in sharing feelings about Orthodox Christianity with others.
The title for Rev. John Matusiak's discussion was "Who is the Church?" Pastor of St. Joseph's Orthodox Church of America parish in Wheaton, IL, and managing editor of "The Orthodox Church" newspaper, Fr. Matusiak delivered his talk with abundant humor. Within the laughter, however, came a strong message. He emphasized that our Church is not an organization, but an organism that lives and grows. He also stressed that our Church is not a place or building, but a community where people of God come together and develop relationships with God and each other.
Conference participants attended three of five break out sessions offered during the day. Sessions focused on spirituality, fasting, confession, women saints, family, single women, and children and youth. Facilitated by lay women and clergy, the breakouts varied from lectures to panel discussions. Each included a question and answer period.
Perhaps one of the richest parts of the entire conference was the energy, fellowship, and comfort that came during the conference's prayer times at the opening, prior to the luncheon, and during the closing.
In summary, the day was filled with prayers, fellowship, and educational discussions that truly helped participants on their own journeys in faith.