The 2021 N.C. Baptist Women’s Retreat, “In the Secret,” will encourage and challenge you to cultivate your relationship with the Lord through study of His Word, time in prayer, and fellowship and encouragement with other women who are also seeking to know Him more.

Throughout the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells His followers to pray, give, fast and serve in the secret place, and our Heavenly Father, who sees what is done in the secret place, will reward us. But we live in a culture that encourages us to broadcast the “secret things” on social media, in conversations and in other areas of our lives. How can we obey the Word of the Lord without succumbing to cultural pressures? The 2021 N.C. Baptist Women’s Retreat will focus on the different ways Jesus tells His followers to live and worship in the secret place while existing in a world that says otherwise.

“But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” 

Matthew 6:6

Featured Speakers

Missie Branch

Worship Speaker
Michelle “Missie” Branch is the assistant dean of students to women and the director of graduate life at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, where she serves women in both the college and the seminary. She is the wife of William “Duce” Branch, who is an assistant professor and Ph.D. student at Southeastern. Several years ago, Duce and Missie co-planted a church in Philadelphia, where she served as a pastor’s wife, a children’s ministry director, a women’s ministry leader and more. Missie is passionate about ministering to women and speaks at various conferences and events to train, encourage, equip and refresh others. She has been a mentor to many ladies, and she currently serving alongside her family at Imago Dei Church in Raleigh.

Meg Barnes

Worship Leader
Meg Barnes serves in the worship ministry at Providence Baptist Church in Raleigh, where her husband, Andrew, serves on staff. Meg is a native of Wilmington, Del. She graduated in 2006 from James Madison University in Virginia and has worked in marketing for a civil engineering firm for 11 years. Having committed her life to Christ at a young age, Meg has a deeply rooted love for the Lord and His church and desires for all people to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” based on 2 Peter 3:18 through His Word and discipleship relationships.

Breakout Sessions

Come Along with Me  
Karin Blanchard, Sandy Ridge Baptist Church, Hickory
When Jesus calls His disciples in Matthew 4:19, He says, “Follow Me.” As the disciples spent the next three years with the Lord, they learned from Him so they could teach and train others to follow Him. This is still the mandate Jesus has for His followers today. How do we obey the biblical mandate to disciple others in a fast-paced world where time is valuable and schedules are demanding? This breakout session will provide suggestions and ideas for growing in your own walk with the Lord and how to bring others along with you as you point them to Christ.

God’s Kingdom vs. My Kingdom: The Rewards of Intimacy  
Tabatha Frost, Providence Baptist Church, Raleigh
Throughout the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus mentions the kingdom of God. He even concludes Matthew 6 by telling His disciples to seek first the kingdom of God. As we seek the Lord during our intimate times with Him, His kingdom is advanced. How do we die to self and remember daily it is about His name being glorified and not our own? This breakout will examine what the kingdom of God is, why it is important, and how growing in our walk with the Lord, and dying to self, is rewarding.

Lord, Teach Us to Pray 
Sharon Jackson, Cary First Baptist Church, Cary
Of all of the things the disciples asked Jesus to teach them, prayer was the No. 1 discipline. The Lord desires for His followers to seek Him in prayer. At times prayer can seem intimidating because we don’t know how to pray, what to pray or where to begin. In the passage from Matthew 6, Jesus gives His disciples a model of how to pray. This breakout session will examine Jesus’ words regarding prayer from Matthew 6 and provide participants practical help to begin a life of seeking the Lord through prayer.

Seeking First the Kingdom  
Sheri Ellington, Cary First Baptist Church, Cary
As part of the larger sermon Jesus gives to the disciples and crowds while on the mountain, He tells them to “…seek first [God’s] kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). How do you seek the kingdom of God in His Word? This breakout session will allow participants to learn how to study the Word of God so seeking the kingdom of God is a daily reality.

Eternity in the Balance 
Christina Devlin, Emmanuel Baptist Church, Raleigh

The Gospel of Matthew ends with Jesus telling His disciples to “Go and make disciples.” During the week before His death, burial and resurrection, Jesus gave His disciples and the crowds the signs of His return. The commission and mandate to believers is one of eternal importance as eternity is in the balance. This breakout session will look at what Jesus says about His return, His disciples sharing the gospel and provide ways to keep this mindset at the beginning of each day.

God’s Righteousness and My Lack
Jennifer Thoppil, Salem Baptist Church, Dobson
Romans 3:10 tells us, “There is no one righteous, not even one.” Righteous means innocent. As humans, we have no righteousness to stand before a Holy God. God sent His sinless Son, Jesus, to earth to die for our sins and only in Him do we become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). Do we try to live in our own righteousness, though, because we don’t understand God’s righteousness? Through this breakout session, participants will learn why our righteousness is lacking and how God’s righteousness is more than enough for each of us.

Persevering in Prayer 
Persevering in Prayer, Ellen Day, Pleasant Garden Baptist Church, Greensboro
Jesus tells His disciples to ask, seek and knock because “how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him” (Matthew 7:7-11). Jesus tells us to continue to seek the Father in prayer. Truthfully, this can be difficult when we do not see something happen immediately. However, we are encouraged to persevere in prayer. This breakout session will examine what Scripture teaches about persevering in prayer and how to continue seeking the Father’s heart even when your prayers seem to go unanswered.

Shouting the Secret 
Betsy Bolick, Perkinsville Baptist Church, Boone
When a secret is shared with us, it is meant to be kept and held in confidence. Many times people will say their relationship with Jesus is private, and it keeps them from sharing the gospel with others. However, Jesus and the salvation that comes in His name is meant to be shared – and shouted – with everyone! This breakout session will look at how the gospel of Jesus Christ was shared in the New Testament as well as practical ways to engage in sharing about Christ with others.

Fasting: Denying Self to Seek the Father  
Harriet Page, Green Pines Baptist Church, Knightdale
Of the three acts of righteousness Jesus mentions in Matthew 6, fasting is the one least practiced among believers, yet it is not only a way to worship the Father, but also a way to seek intimacy with the Lord. Jesus fasted from food as He sought His Father and told His followers, “…when you fast…” (Matthew 6:17). As we seek the Father through fasting, we are denying self and are utterly dependent on Him to sustain us. Yet, we often do not practice this spiritual discipline. This breakout session will give a true biblical understanding of what fasting is and is not, the rewards of fasting, and ways to begin fasting in your own life in order to live in intimacy with the Father.

He is Who He Says He Is: Prophecy Fulfilled in Matthew’s Gospel
Ashley Allen, Embrace and Women’s Evangelism and Discipleship, Cary
One of the hallmarks of the Gospel of Matthew is the repeated phrase, “prophecy was fulfilled.” In this book, many Old Testament prophecies are fulfilled in the kingship of the Lord Jesus. He is who He says He is! Why does this matter today? This breakout session will examine the prophecies fulfilled through Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew and make application for why this still matters today.

Search Me and Know My Heart 
Sheri Ellington, Cary First Baptist Church, Cary
In Matthew 5, Jesus speaks to the crowds about forgiveness and praying for our enemies. Often bitterness and anger grow unseen in our hearts, and it proves to be a barrier in our relationships with God and others. As we seek to cultivate the secret place in our walk with the Lord, we must allow Him to search our hearts and reveal areas where we need to confess and repent of sin. This breakout session will examine Matthew 5 in relationship to our Heavenly Father and provide a biblical understanding of why confession and repentance of the unseen things of the heart is important in our relationship with God and others.

Strategic Focus: Reaching the Nations from Our Own Homes
Kailyn Eskridge, Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, Cary
Do you know the nations are all around you in North Carolina? God has given us the opportunity to reach every tribe, tongue and nation within walking distance of our own homes. The opportunities are all around you. This breakout session will provide understanding of differing strategic focus areas within North Carolina and how you and your church can take part in reaching the nations with the gospel.

Giving in the Secret Place to the Glory of the Father  
Donna Nash, Salem Baptist Church, Dobson
One of the three acts of righteousness Jesus mentions in Matthew 6 is giving. He tells His disciples when they give to the poor it is not to be announced to others, but rather done in secret where only the Father sees and only the Father rewards. God loves a joyful giver, but how do we give in such a manner that the reward of pleasing the Father is what we seek? This breakout session will examine what Scripture teaches about biblical giving and why the reward of pleasing and obeying the Father is better than the approval of man.

Head, Heart and Hands  
Meredith Snoddy, Green Street Baptist Church, High Point
Did you know our head, heart and hands are all attached to each other? As we grow in the secret place with the Lord (the heart), it impacts our knowledge of who God is (head), which should then motivate us to serve Him daily with abandon (hands). This breakout session will examine how the head, heart and hands are dependent on each other and ideas for ladies to get involved missionally in their communities as they cultivate the hidden person of the heart.

Secret Pace: The Unhurried Life of Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel 
Denise O’Donoghue, Imago Dei Church, Raleigh

Throughout the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus is busy, but never in a hurry. He preaches and teaches; feeds the masses; provides healing; and trains His disciples. Jesus moves among the people with a pace that is in step with His Father and an overflow of His relationship with His Father. This breakout session will examine how Jesus’ walked in step to accomplish the will of the Father and provide practical application so we can walk in step with our Father’s will daily, too.

Who is Lord? The Heart of Worship  
Donna Navey, Calvary Church, Charlotte
The acts of righteousness of praying, giving and fasting Jesus mentions in Matthew 6 are to be done as acts of worship to the Father rather than to be noticed by men. When we engage in these acts of worship so others applaud or notice us, we become the objects of worship rather than the Lord. Our hearts and their motivation are tied together when it comes to worship. We must truly examine our heart motivates as we worship. This breakout session will examine Jesus as Lord, how we must examine our own hearts as we worship and teach about motivation in worship.



Check in Begins
*Please note lunch is not provided on Friday

1 – 1:45 p.m.

Main Session, Hollifield Auditorium

2 – 3 p.m.

Breakout Session One

3:15 – 4:15 p.m.

Breakout Session Two

4:15 – 4:50 p.m.

Prayer Time

*5 – 6 p.m.

Dinner in Dining Hall // Devotional Time *(according to assigned group)

*6 – 7 p.m.

Dinner in Dining Hall // Devotional Time *(according to assigned group)

7:15 p.m.

Main Session, Hollifield Auditorium
After Main Session — game room, flashlight tour or time to relax


7 a.m.

Breakfast, Dining Halls

8:15 – 8:45 a.m.

Call to Worship, Hollifield Auditorium

9 – 10 a.m.

Breakout Session Three

10 – 10:45 a.m.

Church Discussion Time/Hour of Reflection (Checkout prior to 10:30 a.m.) 

*11 – Noon

Bonus Breakout Session // Lunch in Dining Hall *(according to assigned group)

*Noon – 1 p.m.

Lunch in Dining Hall // Bonus Breakout Session *(according to assigned group)

1:15 – 2:15 p.m.

Breakout Session Four

2:30 – 3:45 p.m.

Final Main Session, Hollifield Auditorium

Contact us for more information.

Email [email protected] or call (800) 395-5102, ext. 5558

Contact us for more information.

Email [email protected] or call (800) 395-5102, ext. 5558

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