The 61 Exchange Conference happened on June 23rd and 24th. Life change happened on those days, and ultimately Jesus, and his freedom happened.
Chains were broken; hearts were refreshed, renewed, restored in ways that we couldn’t have even imagined. As nearly 100 women from all different stages, stories, and situations gathered together around tables for worship and community the Spirit came down like FIRE.
As the visionary, Amy Boland stepped out in faith and obedience to the calling for women who have been transformed and purified by Jesus to gather together and share their stories. Against shame, addiction, broken relationships, grief, despair, rebellion everything the enemy meant for evil God clearly turned into purposes for our good and His glory (Gen 50). That was seen so clearly as woman and after woman shared their story of suffering, the saving grace of Christ and the freedom and joy it brings even in the midst of it all.
As the ladies of the 61 Exchange gathered early afternoon on Friday to set up; you could walk through the halls of Stonebridge Church and feel His presence. There was laughter everywhere, women working hard, but each one full of life, joy, and Jesus. Meg, being the logistical powerhouse, making sure every detail was woven into the weekend; Lindsay and Esther diligently working in the entry way to make sure every pastry welcomed women in and started opening their hearts to this safe place and the love and grace of Jesus. Then there was Amy who made sure every card, shirt, and table was decorated in the beauty of the creativity expressed by others. See Jesus was in this from the beginning, not just the beginning of the conference but the beginning of TIME! Ladies who prayed in faith for these moments day in and day out stood in awe of the Spirit’s display in the lives of every lady.
Ji, Laura, and Kyle led spirit-filled worship faithfully over the weekend. In talking to Ji, the beauty of a last minute set change Friday night that led to stories being woven together in an intimate way over the new song addition could only be Jesus. Fran and April, who may be two of the funniest and talented women on the Earth (seriously), MC’d all weekend setting temperature, momentum, and bringing fire - can I get an amen on April’s Galatians 5 reading! Cathy shared her story of losing her sweet daughter last year, Amy shared her story of abuse, divorce, and how the Lord molded and shaped her to be the vision behind the 61 Exchange. How He really does take ashes and turn them into something beautiful, as demonstrated by the display of women writing their fears, shame, etc, on paper and surrendering them to the fire and the beauty God wants to create with them.
God was ferociously on the move breaking chains and bringing freedom, and it was only day one.
Saturday started with donuts and yogurt parfaits, the hospitality team was nothing short of incredible throughout the weekend. Sometimes hospitality may seem small, but it’s inviting, comforting, and conversation starting, it helps set a tone and whispers inclusiveness to those on the fringe. God uses it - from a simple coffee stand to a full blown Saucy Bones BBQ buffet - it’s purpose and value should never be underestimated. Huge thank you to Esther, Melissa, and Lindsay for creating such a welcoming environment.
So many stories were shared on Saturday, from Heather whose mother sold her into prostitution from a young age and who bounced around in the foster system, to Estelle who was rejected by her father as a baby and 29 years later chains are just starting to break in that relationship. From Meg who faced a brother with a serious addiction, to Kylie, who came in all the way from Dallas, TX, who just last year was faced with the devastating truth about her husband’s choices which led to divorce. The day was real, raw, and full of Jesus’ faithfulness and love that is helping bring them out of darkness and into His freedom.
But it is all about the PROCESS, and as Ryn said, “just because we are up here does not mean we have arrived, we are still in the process of becoming”. What truth!
Lunch time led to intentional conversations around the table starting with intro questions and leading to so much more as we ate our bbq, potatoes, and sweets alongside friends both new and old! Truthfully said, the ladies of 61E did not go hungry this weekend - can I get another Amen! Leading into the last session hearts were open, stories were shifting, lives were changing and His presence was heavily felt.
As the weekend ended with a few more powerful stories, worship, and an incredible picture of God taking something broken and powerfully putting the pieces back together, highlighting the cracks with something elegant and beautiful everything shifted, because Jesus you truly do change everything!
So how could you sum up the 61 Exchange conference in three words: GRACE. SURRENDER. FREEDOM. But really in one word JESUS.
Tears flowed freely from the team that planned and prayed for this for so long, and led it so beautifully. Exchanging stories they had heard from ladies throughout the two days, and ladies and gents alike wondering WHAT’S NEXT? First and foremost: rest and remembering all He did during the past two days, and His faithfulness throughout it all. Second, prayerfully and obediently staying open handed in the coming months for God’s voice and direction. Then coming soon, Nashville, Dallas, and Ft. Meyer’s Beach (dates TBA), and even maybe a guys version of this ministry! As Christine Caine said Sunday night “God starts with the impossible”; so we stay open handed, prayerful, expectant and in awe of God. Bonded in sisterhood through Christ and willing to be the hands and feet in whatever plan He has for the 61 Exchange.
Personally, Jesus changed the trajectory of my life this weekend. From two days before where, other than the very beginning on Friday, I had doubted even being able to attend, to a conversation on Saturday that led to a 40 day prayer journey alongside a lady with a similar struggle to the one I’m facing right now, all the way to chains of fear being broken and God reopening doors and my heart to His will, not my control. Rocked would be an understatement, and gratefulness to Amy and the team who served faithfully and allowed me to be a part is not to be said lightly.
Thank you Jesus. For your timing, your purposes, your grace, and your freedom. We stay expectant for the immeasurably more all for your glory as you continue to make beauty from ashes.
Written by Jordan Woodson, The 61 Exchange