Two Hundred Women in Black

200 Women in Black

BY HOLLY KESTENIS, Staff Writer

ST. PETERSBURG – Women from as far away as Georgia, Ft. Pierce and Kissimmee convened at the St. Petersburg Hilton, located at 950 Lake Carillon Drive, to attend the inaugural 200 Women in Black last Sat., Oct. 18.

Presented by Sisters on the Move Ministry, a non – denominational non – profit religious organization, founder and CEO Elder Debbie Thompson told the crowd of her vision and how she decided to run with it.

“He gave me the vision,” she said speaking of the Lord and thanked all the women who stood behind her and beside her as she planned. “Have you ever seen ‘Bridezilla,’” she asked. “Let me tell you, I was Eventzilla.”

Thompson gave some background on the meaning of the evening. She explained the color black was chosen for its denotation of power, elegance and formality, which she believed set the stage for a perfect evening. Black is also associated with the death of something which Thompson views as a good thing.

“Tonight we are going to lay some things down,” she said speaking of the countless number of single women each day that work and raise their children, as well as the strong women who also tend to other family members each day. “We came to be healed physically, emotionally, mentally.”

Sisters on the Move Ministry is set to empower and educate women of all ethnic and cultural backgrounds to hear their calling and be women of God. Its intent is to impact women through prayer, spiritual cleansing and personal enrichment workshops.

The guest speaker for the evening was none other than Pastor Cecilia Grimsley-Holt who lives in Dickson, Tenn., and is serving as pastor to the Word of Life Tabernacle Church, which was formed in 2001.

I call her the holy stick of dynamite that packs a good spiritual punch,” said Thompson.

Holt’s daughter spoke of her mother’s sacrifice for the Lord and how she withholds nothing, always working toward the betterment of the people in her congregation.

Since the age of 12, Holt accepted Jesus Christ as her savior after witnessing a vision from God. A full-time business teacher for some 31 years, she retired from the teaching profession in May of this year, and has had a lifetime of struggles.

“I think for years I walked around with just a dagger in my back,” said Holt who voiced her own thoughts on mastering the art of suffering for a long while. “I have been through so much, I’m past tired.”

Diagnosed with an incurable blood disease, Holt believed the doctor’s timeline of just 90 days to live. Her white blood cells were dying, so was her faith and the belief that she could survive.

“My faith wasn’t that strong,” said Holt who was taught the word of God at an early age, but hadn’t mastered what faith truly was. She believed the doctor and bought a calendar, marking off the days left, counting down to the end.

“The closer I got I lost the use of my limbs; I could no longer walk. I could no longer take care of myself,” she said. Holt would roll out of bed and crawl along the floor just to use the bathroom.  “I could no longer do anything that I’m doing now because the doctor said, and I believed.”

Twenty-eight years later, Holt is still going strong. No longer a victim to a blood disease, she has realized the word of God and lives her life each day to guide women of all backgrounds in their quest for spiritual atonement.

Her topic for the evening was “In a minute, it won’t matter.”

Those in attendance were encouraged to remember that setbacks happen and that with faith in the Lord, they will come out the other end okay.

Holt has been pastoring 20 years. The only female pastor in the city of Dickson, her road to salvation hasn’t always been easy. When she first arrived, she was visited by a group of 10 men of various local churches who made it clear they wished she would pack up and go.

“The good ole boys got together and made a pact,” she said stating she was blacklisted, half of the African-American churches refusing to acknowledge her presence. They thought she’d give up and head back home. “My neck got to moving and I said, ‘You can’t put me down, you can’t pray me down. I’m not going anywhere.’”

And it was this spirit and dedication so evident decades ago that still demands respect today.

Holt soon got the room moving with more than just her voice. Dividing the group up by their ages, the men who accompanied the lady in their life making a group of their own, her goal was to unify the room. She preached that sisters need each other, and no one can work productively by themselves.

She had them stand up with the members of their group. Soon after they were directed to squat like women of the olden days during childbirth. They then pushed as if giving birth themselves, crying out as they did so. And yes, the men were in on it too.

It’s the proper stance for giving birth voiced Holt who uses this exercise at her seminars to accentuate the birthing on an idea, of a new way to think of life, faith, the world.

“I just want to be making a difference,” she said. “Not only in women, but men children, black, white, Hispanic – that’s God’s church.”

Sisters on the Move Ministry generously presented The Special Operations Warrior Foundation a check in the amount of $500 in honor of Brittany B. Gordon, the niece of Thompson. Gordon was killed in Afghanistan October 13, 2012 while serving in the United States Army.

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