by Shawn Nowlin
Opportunities for women of faith in the Roanoke Valley to come together and celebrate their sisterhood do not happen every day.
Such an occasion occurred Saturday (7/29) at the High Street Baptist Anchor of Hope Center when the Church Women United (CWU) in the Roanoke Valley held its 80th Anniversary Celebration.
The theme for the July 29 gathering centered around women of faith honoring eight decades of cultivating love, hope, and peace. After CWU Roanoke President Sue Ranson welcomed everyone, Jennie Waering said the opening prayer before the itinerary got underway.
Over 100 individuals attended the event. Among those present were Stephanie Moon Reynolds, Regina Jones, Anita Price, Diane Kelly, and Morgan Schottelkorb. Stories were shared, the laughter was non-stop, and to no one’s surprise, plenty of pictures were taken. The coalition of individuals gathered clearly represents the group’s mission of diversity – working across the color line.
“There are so many forces that try to divide us in this world. We all believe that we can make the Roanoke community and the world a much better place. At the end of the day, we are all brothers and sisters,” Ranson said. “Like any nonprofit organization, it takes a collaborative effort to get things done. Our board consists of 22 members. Nobody is doing this alone.”
Barbara Pendergrass Richmond, who preceded Ranson, added, “The national organization celebrated its 80th anniversary two years ago. Because of the pandemic, we postponed our gathering until we felt it was safe. About a year ago, we started meeting in person again and that put everyone at ease. What we wanted to celebrate and who we wanted to invite as guests were all things collectively decided on as a committee. Our core values are faith, service, education, advocacy, diversity, and social justice.”
All five lifetime members, individuals who have reached the age of 90, were also recognized. “Virginia Tech had worked with us on a video project where they interviewed several of our members. It was important to document their stories in their own words,” Ranson said.
Before the celebration concluded, Councilwoman Moon-Reynolds presented the organization with a city proclamation.
“Like any nonprofit organization, you have a tremendous number of people who walk with you. Each year, for example, we select a neighborhood to walk through and get to know the residents in the area,” Richmond said.
The National Church Women United organization was formed in 1941. Since then, more than 1,200 units across the country have been created. For more information about the local organization, visit cwuroanoke.org