AEBC Women Delight In God’s Grace

Glendale, CA On September 25, 2021 our Women’s Ministries hosted a one-day retreat. Café Chocolat helped women grow in their relationship with God and develop lasting friendships with each other. At this deliciously chocolate-themed retreat, we reflected on God’s extravagant grace and explored the ways His grace is evident in our own lives and in the lives of others.

Our fellowship hall was transformed into a cafe atmosphere. A hospitality table was replenished throughout the day with cakes, snacks, veggies, coffee and lemonade! Plenty of chocolate treats were used as decorations…and very little was actually consumed! We started the day with worship songs led by Anna Stefanidi and in our first session, presented by Sioni Shanlian,  we dove deeply into Jesus’s miracle of multiplying the loaves and fishes recorded in Matthew 14.

During session two, we visited the story of Jesus turning the water into wine at a wedding and Valentin Harounian helped us reflect on God’s mercy when we mess up. In sessions three, presented by Carolyn Babaian, we extended grace to those wee don’t even know with a service project to minister to the elderly. We sewed cozy wraps together with love and a special note to the recipient. These were later delivered to the Ararat Home in Mission Hills, CA.

Lunch was catered by Panera Bread and gave everyone a change to enjoy eating together outside under tents.

After lunch, we learned how God’s extravagant grace turns bitterness to sweetness. In session four, Maria Ekizian helped us explore Lazarus’ death and ressurection and encouraged us to invite God’s sweetness into a bitter situation. Then it was time for some alone time in reflection. Tasting various samples of chocolate and following instructions in our guide book helped us reflect on God’s grace in our own lives.

Finally, in our last session, Sioni Shanlian invited a few women to read Scripture passages as we considered the implications of our own sin and celebrated how Jesus’s miraculous ressurection brings God’s grace to our own lives. A simple drop of chocolate syrup smeared in our hands was the sign of sin. Then women all lined up during one of the most memorable moments of the retreat and walked to the front of the room where the “stain” was wiped off with a warm vanilla-scented towel and a souvenie bracelet was gifted to each women with a word of blessing. We closed our time together with a few more worship songs and a prayer given by Mrs. Jeanette Melkonian.