More than 40 local women from seventeen different churches gathered together on Friday to hold a World Community Day Celebration at Northside Baptist Church in Neosho.

More than 40 local women from seventeen different churches gathered together on Friday to hold a World Community Day Celebration at Northside Baptist Church in Neosho.
The theme of this year's event, Kindling New Fires for Peace, invited women of all denominations to come with open hearts, to leave our comfort zones and live peacefully together in more inclusive communities.The event is one of two annual events hosted by the local Church Women United. The other is Friendship Day in May.
Jason Abbott, senior pastor of the Northside Baptist Church, opened the event by greeting those who gathered.
"We are so glad to have you in our building this morning," Abbott said. "We are so glad you are here for World Community Day."
Rita Crews provided a prelude of music on piano and served as music leader for the event.
Soo Mee Cho performed a solo of 'The Lord's Prayer' in both English and Korean.
Crews then led the group in another song.
"I'm going to teach you a new song, that the Lord gave my friend," she said as she invited those present to join in singing 'Holding The Nations In Your Hands."
A brief business meeting for Church Woman United followed. The minutes from the group's last business meeting, held during May Friendship Day on May 2, and the treasurer's report were approved.
Installation of officers was next on the agenda. Mary Jean Barker, historian and public relations for the group, introduced the new officers. Barker quoted from Genesis 9:13 and introduced the officers with a few remarks about rainbows. "You know how I love to watch the Hallmark Channel," Barker said. "There's a movie I love, The Color of Rain and it's about two families coming together. God made everything and it is beautiful. Our fall this year isn't as pretty as it usually is but it's still a blessing. The colors of a rainbow are separate but they must be together. Each is separate but we must become one. We must reach out. Where? Everywhere!"
The roster of new officers includes President Evelyn Roy, First Christian Church, Treasurer Jeanne Morrow of St. Canera Catholic Church, Secretary Sandra Smith of The Canopy, First Vice President Linda Poore, First Presbyterian Church, Second Vice President, Jamie Chastain, Freedom Fellowship, and Third Vice President, Peggy Becknell, Neosho Christian. Ann Colter stood in for Chastain, who was unable to be present, and Phyllis Blackwood stood in for Becknell, also not present.
Carolyn Kelley introduced featured speaker, Pam Cope.
"As we celebrate World Community Day, I cannot think of anyone more appropriate to speak than Pam Cope who has touched lives worldwide with her Touch of Life Foundation, founded by Pam and her husband, Randy Cope."
Touch A Life Foundation develops creative ways to bring healing and empowerment to those who are suffering, exploited, and at-risk around the world.
Cope is also the co-author, with Aimee Molloy, of 'Jantzen's Gift', a true story of grief, rescue, and grace published in 2009 by Grand Central Publishing.
"Thank you for having me today," Cope told those present. "I just returned Tuesday. Ghana is fresh on my heart. I am a storyteller and I want to tell God stories."
She described how life events brought her to her present journey.
"Eighteen years ago, my son Jantzen died on June 16, 1999," Cope said. "My world came crashing down. My spiritual life took a dive. I was a furious with God. I told God you have got to give me purpose or I'm not going to survive this. You're going to have to show me how to dig out of this dark hole."
As the first anniversary of Jantzen's birthday and the first Thanksgiving since his passing approached, Cope and her family decided to go to Vietnam. "I had this feeling of this is where I'm supposed to be as soon as I stepped off the plane," Cope recalled.
Surrounded by need and poverty, Cope wanted to help but she didn't know how to begin. So they purchased bread for a local orphanage. From that simple act of feeding the hungry, Cope and her family, using money from Jantzen's memorial fund to build his legacy, began setting up shelters throughout Saigon. Today, Touch A Life continues to support 200 children in Vietnam.
"I was able to give a child who lived halfway around the world hope," Cope said of her first trip to Vietnam. "Those two weeks in southeast Asia were the most amazing of my life."
On a trip to New York City in 2006 Cope saw a newspaper article about children who are enslaved to work in the fishing trade on Lake Volta in Ghana.
Cope, through the Touch of Life Foundation, began rescuing children in Ghana from slavery and human trafficking. From that beginning, a Care Center and Life Academy became reality, in time. It took two years to buy a ten-acre property. Extreme Makeover approached them about working with them on a project in Ghana. "It took about two seconds to say 'yes'," Cope said.
Over 100 children are in the Ghana program. Food is raised on site and used to feed those at the facility. Goats, pigs, and chickens are all raised by those at the Touch of Life Care Center. They also grow a variety of vegetables including corn or maize.
Meals are served communally and students live in dormitory style housing with house parents to provide a family style experience.
"I never take any glory," Cope said as she described her experiences. "The glory all goes to God. I used to run a hair salon. I am not qualified to run a non-profit. All I had to do is say 'yes'. I haven't done anything heroic. I just said, 'use me' to God and that's how it happened. Each one of us, there's something we were created to do that no one else can do and you either say yes or no. That's my story."
The event concluded with two additional hymns and a benediction.
Church Women United was founded in 1941 and World Community Day has been observed since 1943. It is traditionally held on the first Friday in November.
The next meeting of Church Women United in Neosho will be on Friday, March 2, 2018 at the First Presbyterian Church in Neosho.