On Becoming a Minister to Women
This is not a story about religion. It’s about my passion for building a thriving community and my journey to becoming a minster to women.
When I was in college 35 years go, I pursued a major in Speech/Communications and a minor in Anthropology because I was fascinated by how human beings interact with one another, especially in communities. My greater goal was to become a Lutheran minister. I’ve always had a heart and mind for service, and I wanted to use my skills to uplift and support others.
My life direction changed when I met my husband, who was studying to be an archaeologist. After we married and he moved into his career, I set aside my own dream. We traveled around much of the Pacific Northwest on archaeological digs. I loved learning and being in the outdoors, especially with my life partner.
We have two children, a son and a daughter, who are now grown. While raising my children, I spent time in nature whenever possible with my husband, family, and my spirited Great Dane. I had tucked away my dream of becoming a minister to raise a beautiful family.
Then, in 2014, my dream resurfaced. I still felt a deep desire to be a minister and to serve others in a meaningful way. But how? I knew that when women are educated and empowered, leaders emerge and aspirations become reality, helping to develop and support cultures and civilizations.
I had an idea: to create a safe place where women can come together at least once a month—not to network, but to simply connect. To build friendships, learn and grow personally and professionally, and illuminate each other.
From this seed, Illuminating Women was born. I recruited my best friend, Cecilia, to help make my dream a reality, and we were off and running.
Illuminating Women started simply, by meeting at a local business storefront each month. We would have two women speak at each gathering, to share their stories and teach us about themselves and their profession. Because the meeting was free to attend, women brought food and wine, and we enjoyed a generous community potluck.
Word spread throughout the Seattle area about the special vibe of these gatherings of amazing women. We added quarterly luncheons and an annual garden party with a changing festive theme. Attendance steadily increased, and we began to outgrow the local venues where we usually met. It became evident that women needed, and were seeking, an opportunity to connect regularly in community.
During that time, a new attendee, Esther, was introduced to me at one of our events. Esther is one of those women with a powerful presence and the kind of energy that fills an entire room. In the course of our conversation, her eyes lit up as she said to me, “Honey, this is your ministry.” I knew then that it was time to take Illuminating Women to the next level.
In 2017 we transformed the organization into Illuminating Women LLC, and created a membership model that was scalable. Any woman, member or not, could attend our events for a nominal fee. We continued to book inspiring and motivating speakers for all of our meetings, which now include a variety of weekly events and an annual conference. We also host an annual holiday awards party where we inaugurate one Illuminating Woman of the Year and acknowledge and honor key women in our community who empower, encourage, and educate others.
From the beginning, Illuminating Women has grown due to those who witnessed and supported my vision of empowering women. My enduring mission is to help women be lifted and supported so that they can live illuminated lives, strengthening their families and communities.
I’m inspired when women share with me the impact Illuminating Women has made on their lives and relationships, giving them inspiration and belief to fully live in alignment with their authentic desires. I’m grateful to be a part of it and to know deep in my heart that Esther was right.