By Cyndee Ownbey
As a young, women’s ministry leader, I was rather oblivious to the sensitive nature of Mother’s Day at churches. Twenty-some years ago, I didn’t give much thought to the pastor asking each category of mothers to stand as they were recognized in front of everyone.
In the years since, God has placed many women in my path for whom Mother’s Day is difficult and I’ve been honored to hear their stories. There are women with estranged children, some are stepmothers, others have lost their own mothers, many face infertility, and there are those who are unmarried—not to mention all the other situations women experience.
Looking back, I can see how asking mothers to stand was unintentionally painful for many women sitting around me in the pews. Singling out women who are mothers from those who are not can negatively impact the unity you pray for in your church.
But honestly, ignoring Mother’s Day doesn’t feel right either.
What’s a women’s ministry leader to do?
Instead of a mother-exclusive event, host an event for ALL women. You can hold it near Mother’s Day, allowing moms to include it in their Mother’s Day plans. Emphasize it as an event for all women and have a theme that appeals to everyone. A great theme idea is the Joy in the Journey line from CTA. Pivoting from a mother-only message to a message for all women ensures no one feels excluded.
If you’re distributing a gift on Mother’s Day, purchase items that say “woman” instead of “mom.” If you hang up signage or have a gift station, consider writing “Have a wonderful day!” instead of “Happy Mother’s Day!” (it could poke at a sensitive spot). Invite every woman to pick up a gift on their way out of the worship center.
This may be the opportune time to highlight ministries in your church or community that offer support for all women regardless of maternal status (or lack thereof). Within that list, include ministries that address different struggles of motherhood as well all issues pertaining to all women.
Compassion is key to Mother’s Day celebrations. Be sensitive and consider those for whom Mother’s Day is difficult. Make certain every woman knows that she is complete and is valued by God, whether or not she is a mother.
I pray that your team will make plans to honor all your women well.
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