The NSW/ACT MOPS Leadership Conference was hosted by the wonderfully talented women of Oran Park MOPS. Bright decorations welcomed us to the upcoming theme of “To The Full” and even the Oran Park building, with its colourful steeple, seemed suited to the cheery and motivational new theme!
The Conference began with a time of music and singing, which included the song Oceans – if you haven’t heard it, it’s worth a listen here . These lyrics perfectly matched the theme for the coming year, where we are encouraged to call on the Lord, to know him as our Shepherd, and to find both life “to the full” and rest in Him.
So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise, my soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine
We were thrilled to have MOPS Australia Board Chair, Karen Dickson, join us as the keynote speaker for the first time in 8 years, and let me tell you…was she worth the wait! Karen shared with us a strong Biblical basis for the theme verse from John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Karen’s willingness to be lighthearted yet vulnerable, to be self-deprecating yet grasping the seriousness of Jesus’ shepherding role, was encouraging and welcomed by leaders. Some takeaway highlights included challenging the social norm that to be busy is best: “A full schedule is NOT a full life – it is just a full schedule.” Karen gently reminded us that to know an abundant and full life is to know the goodness and steadfast love of Jesus, not whatever the world may present as a “full” and potentially overwhelmed life.
We participated in a leadership training session run by Johanna Barker, encouraging us to lead ourselves and examine, reflect upon and perhaps change some areas of our lives as we consider our future under God.
Another highlight of the day was Laura’s heartfelt testimony, focusing on the Lord’s love upholding her while she felt in a chasm of darkness. Her raw and real testimony of the hardships of mothering were melded with how those struggles have brought her closer to God. She shared about her joy to be equipped to give a testimony of the Lord and His strength in her weakness – something that many mums can relate to or long to hear. Thanks to Laura (Camden MOPS) for her openness and vulnerability in sharing.
We were encouraged to see the spread of MOPS and the reminder that when just one child hears the Word of God in MOPS Kids, they can go home and share that love with many family members. How encouraging to be reminded that our service to God is never in vain.
Kate Finn, Melanie Oxman and Karen Davies unpacked the upcoming theme a little more for us later in the day, sharing some great ideas on Having More Fun, Fearing Less and Finding Our People. They had thoughtfully planned activities which were both fun and helped us to get to know each other better as we supported one another through our insecurities. There were some great take-away ideas for use in our own MOPS groups.
The evening included a lovely roast dinner and spectacular dessert (decorated with edible flowers!) and equally enjoyable conversation. Awards were also presented as part of the evening. Huge congratulations to Belinda Robson of Camden MOPS, who was the worthy recipient of the Hands of MOPS Award. Belinda has worked with Camden MOPS for many years and also assists with organising conferences. She is wise, Godly, humble, has a heart for Christ, and always has a smile on her face – a truly worthy recipient. There were also some light-hearted awards handed out by hosts Kate Finn and Karen Davies – the coveted Lollipop Awards, and special theme awards in the categories of Having More Fun, Fearing Less and Finding Our People. During the evening Melanie Oxman shared her leadership testimony, and the conference closed in prayer and commissioning led by Karen Dickson and Karen Davies.
We are thankful to the Oran Park team for their wonderful service in organising the event. Every detail was thoughtful, décor on point, and food just delicious. Thank you to the team for all your time and effort in creating a beautiful day, and also to the conference organisers who spent many months planning. We’re thankful to start planning a new year of MOPS equipped with new ideas and supported by new and old friends.