By Rick Kern
When Joanne Clark discovered that the annual Women of Faith conference wasn’t going to be held in the Rochester area anymore her heart was stirred to action. Her immediate response was that there were a lot of women in the area who would go up to Rochester for that event, so why not bring Jesus Christ alive through the gifts, talents, and fruit of the Spirit in her little corner of the world.
“I thought, well you know, there’s so many gifts and talents in this area for this event, if we can’t go to Rochester to see something like that, even though I don’t want it to be just women, I just want it to be the churches in the area that wanted to take part of a yearly conference where they wanted to worship,” Clark recalled. “Whether they wanted a vendor or whatever it is that God had gifted them with — a singer or a dancer, you know, a speaker, whatever it is to put on a yearly conference with all of the different denominations.” She continued, “And why not in a small area? Why does everybody have to go to a city for something like that? So that’s where the whole thing came from.”
Thus, in 2015 Move for Christ was launched to unite members from local churches of all denominations in the Finger Lakes, Southern Tier, and Western New York. The name came to Joanne some time ago with the word “move” being an acronym for “May Our Voices Enlighten.” And given the nature of the event it is thoroughly appropriate. Clark strives to embrace a varied spectrum of heaven borne gifts and callings in a way that physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually synchronizes in praise to God as it edifies His church.
In a very unique approach, Joanne goes out of her way to embrace the Body of Christ as completely as possible when developing the Move for Christ conferences. “What I have been doing is putting out on social media the desire to have people participate from any denomination,” explains Clark. “I’m going to have somebody helping me with the website to get where somebody can write in to me and to share what their gift and talent is and to see if I can incorporate that into the next one.”
Not only are there no denominational margins for participants, but Clark has been able to hold the events at churches with different affiliations. “I did a conference in 2016 at the Presbyterian Church,” she reflects. “I did a conference in 2017 just last month at a church called The River of Grace, a non-denominational church in Hornell.” She has been able to respect and unify each and every divergent voice that wants to lift the name of the Lord showing that the God we have in common is greater than any theology we don’t.
Each conference revolves around a theme that scheduled speakers develop. For example, last year’s conference was on the Armor of God while this year’s focused on the Fruit of the Spirit. “I will pick whatever topic I feel lead to have the conference be around and then I’ll put together about four hours’ worth of speakers,” explains Clark. “If there is somebody that does drama, if there’s a chorus that wants to come and sing, a couple of songs — there will always be worship and there will always be a message. We will always be lifting God on high, because this is His, not mine.”
Essentially, Move for Christ is a forum for various people to use their differing gifts and talents to express their love for God, lift His name, and strengthen the Body of Christ. When shaping the coming year’s event, Joanne discerns the theme she feels is on the heart of God and builds the rest of the conference around it. She will approach potential contributors to see if they want to participate in it, and if so, share their part with them. “They just kind of all know once they’ve been given their part in it, what it is they’re to do,” says Clark. “I really don’t have to do a lot of leading, I guess, I just pick the date and the subject matter, the Bible part that we’re going to be doing.”
This year’s event lasted four hours which was cut back significantly from the previous year. “This past year I did the whole day and that turned out to be not quite as effective,” Joanne admits. “It got a little long for people, so we cut it back from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and then closed it out with lunch and vendor shopping.”
While Joanne does charge a fee for the conference, it is only to cover expenses. “This year, I charged $20 and that pays for the promotions and anything that I have to give money for,” she says. Should there be any net proceeds left over it is donated to a predetermined charity. In the past Move for Christ has supported a Christian kids’ camp and a ministry to victims of domestic violence. “This isn’t for making money,” says Clark emphatically. “I also do a raffle so that money also goes specifically for that organization.”
Interestingly, Joanne views the vendors that participate as contributing to the ministry as much as the speakers, dancers, and other artists or ministers. “People can sell makeup, jewelry, I was hoping that one person was going to come that sells T-shirts,” she says. “Whatever it is that they vend, you know if it’s part of their gifting, and it’s part of their livelihood, they’re wanting to be a part of this, I certainly would welcome them.”
At this writing Joanne has begun to develop next year’s event and is looking toward mid-September, 2018. It is her hope that interested parties will contact her, “Just to call me or get a hold of me, to know what your gifting is and see if I can fit you in for our next conference,” she says hopefully.
God’s blessing seems to be resting upon Move for Christ and Joanne is earnestly seeking Him about the next event. “Well, as it is right now, it’s just a yearly conference. Right now, I’m praying about what it is that God will want presented and looking for people to sign up, to call me,” she notes. “I need to know if they’re interested, if they want to speak, or if they have something they want to sell, or things they craft or sell.” Continuing she says, “I’m just looking to put the same types of things together next year. I’ll be looking for the charitable organizations to get the net proceeds so I start from scratch right now because last month was this year’s conference.”
To learn more about Move for Christ call Joanne Clark at (607) 661-3413 or hit their website at www.movefochristny.com.