We Will Conference Set to Return in 2018
By: Laura Poff
Colonel Heidi Bailey spends a lot of time on the road. It comes with her position as the territorial secretary for women’s ministries, but it also allows her to engage with women around the territory. During a recent visit to San Antonio, Texas, a woman spoke to her about We Will, the first territorial conference for young women leaders, held in Orlando in September.
“She said, ‘I loved it so much, it was just so different,’” Bailey said.
In the months since the conference, women from across the Southeast, younger and older, officers and not, have reached out to say the same.
“They felt inspired, their fire reignited, they felt empowered, refreshed and found renewed hope for women in The Salvation Army,” she said. “They saw where they fit in, and I think that felt very comforting to them.”
Bailey, in partnership with Commissioner Debi Bell and the Women’s Department team, recently announced a second We Will conference, to be held in October 2018, largely in response to overwhelming feedback from women who attended and those who wished they had.
Many details such as location, theme and speakers are forthcoming but the age cap, previously set to 40, has been abolished in favor of inviting all women over the age of 21 to attend.
“We initially wanted younger women to know that this was for them,” said Captain Maureen Diffley, women’s ministries specialist. “Now that they know that, there’s no reason to leave older women out.”
That change, along with word of mouth, is expected to double attendance from 400 to nearly 800 women, not a small feat for a new conference with lesser-known Salvationist speakers scheduled for an already busy time of year.
“I think women felt considered and validated and left knowing they were supported by each other and by their leaders,” Colonel Bailey said.
While details of the 2018 conference are difficult to pin down this far out, her team is confident that whatever moves may come and whatever changes take place, We Will will come again.
“We Will spoke into the self-worth of women, many who were discouraged and trying to find their place,” she said. “The women will make sure it happens.”