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Girls of Grace conferences convey positive messages to teen girls

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–After 11 years, seven albums, two Grammy nominations, seven Dove awards and 25 No. 1 songs, Point of Grace is fronting a new conference series called Girls of Grace.

The two-day conference events beginning this fall include praise and worship music, keynote speakers, teaching sessions with the members of Point of Grace, fashion and makeup sessions and a concert with Point of Grace and special guest Joy Williams, all with the goal of giving teenage girls a refreshed heart, a renewed self-confidence and a better understanding of their daily walk with Christ.

“The whole image issue is such a place where teenagers walk, and our hope is that they start seeing who they are in Christ,” group member Denise Jones said. “Our whole bottom line is to show who they are in Christ. Unless you spend time on a daily basis with him, it’s so easy to give in to the world’s viewpoint of who you should be. Our hope is that they really get to know what God thinks about them.”

Jones, along with the other members of the group, Shelley Breen, Terry Jones and Heather Payne, realize they’re still young enough that teenagers are listening to them but old enough that parents respect them and trust them with their children.

During the teaching sessions, Denise will talk about how to have discernment in dating situations, Shelley will discuss family relationships, Terry will talk about friendships and self-esteem and Heather will discuss a personal relationship with God.

“Some people have asked if I’m going to be splitting the age groups up during my talk, but in reality, the fact is that unfortunately a lot of those seventh-graders are facing the same things the seniors are facing,” Denise said. “I want to talk pretty direct to them, but my heart is that they see that God’s plan for them is so much better than they ever dreamed.”

The fashion show will instruct girls on how to dress in the latest styles while maintaining modesty. Point of Grace also will lead a panel discussion about how to dress while keeping godly principles in mind.

“We love to shop, and we know how hard it is to find cool clothes that are hip that aren’t completely tacky and show way too much skin,” Shelley said. “We want to help girls understand the signals they send when they dress like they do, and we want to give them practical tips about how they can dress modestly and still not feel like they’re out of style. We want them to know they can dress in a godly manner — it is possible, it’s just harder.”

Point of Grace realizes that it’s going to be difficult to compete with some of the role models Hollywood and the secular music industry offer girls today, but they won’t rely on their own power to get girls’ attention.

“My biggest prayer is that the Spirit of God is going to convict them,” Denise said. “There is a world screaming at them ‘This is the way your love life should be,’ ‘This is the way you should look,’ ‘This is the way you’re successful, and there’s power in that and power in control,’ and it’s going to be really hard to scream louder than that. I’m truly praying over those girls that the Spirit is really there and that he works on their hearts.”

In addition to the conferences, girls will be able to purchase the Girls of Grace CD, which was fashioned as a soundtrack for the conferences. The album includes Point of Grace and other female artists such as Jaci Velasquez, Out of Eden, Joy Williams, Jennifer Deibler of FFH, Christy Nockels of Watermark, Rachael Lampa and Nichole Nordeman singing familiar worship choruses such as “You Are My All in All” and songs written specifically for Girls of Grace.

“Originally the idea was for it to be a tool that we could use. Hopefully the girls could pick up the CD and listen to the music so that when they come to the conference they’ll know the songs and be excited about it,” Denise said. “Our hope is also that the many small churches around that don’t have their own worship bands can use the CD as a tool in their churches. But it ended up being more than just a worship tool. To me it’s a great record.”

Also on the album is a combined choir of teenage girls from the Tennessee Choral Academy and Mercy Ministries of America, a national, nonprofit outreach that provides help to women ages 13-28 who suffer from problems such as drug and alcohol abuse, unwed pregnancies and eating disorders.

“The girls from Mercy Ministries were so precious because when you’ve been forgiven a huge debt, which some of those girls have walked through some really painful areas, you come out of it and just sing,” Denise said. “When those girls sing, they mean every word of it, and it’s precious.”

Shelley noted that the Girls of Grace album is different from any they’ve recorded in the past.

“It’s more special because we have girls singing on the record with us. We really wanted to model it after Amy Grant’s ‘Songs From the Loft’ CD that was so huge a few years ago. Most of these girls haven’t heard of that record. It’s a lot like that except it’s girls,” she said.

Along with the CD will be a Girls of Grace book offering instruction, personal stories and biblical insight into the issues that mean the most to teenage girls: faith, family, friends and boys, as well as a Girls of Grace journal to help teenage girls write about their thoughts on those issues.

“Maybe you go to a church that’s just a little too far from a conference. But with the CD and the workbook and the journal, you can have your own little Girls of Grace weekend, or even a 12-week study program,” Shelley said. “There’s just not a lot of curriculum out there that’s cool and hip and relevant but still is deep so the girls feel like they’re getting something out of it. So I feel like we’re going to fill a niche with the side products.”

The fall 2002 conference cities are Lakeland, Fla., Dallas, Denver and Grand Rapids, Mich. Many more cities are planned for 2003.

“The whole thing is we’re just trying to deal with the issues of their hearts,” Denise said.

To register for the Girls of Grace conferences or to get more information, visit www.girlsofgrace.com. The Girls of Grace CD, journal and book will be released in stores Aug. 20.
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: WORSHIP MUSIC FOR TEEN GIRLS and REACHING OUT TO TEENS.

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  • Erin Curry