AUBURN — A pair of Lakewood Park Christian School graduates will help lead the Exalt Women’s Conference, May 1 and 2 at Lakewood Park Baptist Church.
Naomi Swing will guide the worship team, while Sarah Westfall will be one of three keynote speakers for the event.
Now Fort Wayne residents, they’ve known each other for a long time — since Westfall used to baby-sit for Swing.
They’ve come a long way since those days, and now they’re ready to participate in the church’s largest-ever event for women.
Both will design their presentations around Psalm 46, the theme for the conference.
“A big part of exalting Him is through worship and through song. I’m just really thankful for the opportunity to do that … and then lead other women in that form of exalting him,” Swing said.
As a student, Swing participated in Lakewood Park worship teams for youth groups and church services. At Taylor University, she performed with a worship team and chapel bands, once opening for a program featuring Tim Tebow.
Today, Swing sings and plays with the worship team for Redeemer Baptist Church of Fort Wayne and teaches piano students.
Kari Harvey, women’s ministry director for the church, said she prayed about who should lead worship for the conference and decided on Swing, whose voice reminds her of Grammy-winning Christian music artist Lauren Daigle.
Harvey also selected Westfall, who earned degrees at indiana Wesleyan University after graduating from Lakewood Park.
Westfall has worked in higher education and in freelance writing and editing, along with raising her children.
“Speaking in the faith space was a new thing I was stepping into last year,” Westfall said. She spoke this week to her largest audience yet, 900 people in a chapel session at Anderson University.
Westfall will focus her message to the conference on Psalm 46, which also is the theme of “Be Still,” a 30-day devotional guide she edited and co-authored, publishing it in November 2019.
To Westfall, Psalm 46 prescribes “being still and knowing that God is God, even in the midst of whatever life circumstance that might be.
“I can’t speak about that without speaking about some of my own story,” Westfall added. “A thread that runs through my writing and speaking is what a grace it has been to have a life that kind of hasn’t gone as planned.”
One of Westfall’s five sons died nine years ago.
“That was the catalyst for a lot of my breaking down, but also being made whole again,” she said. “It was in that season of my life — not turning out how I thought it would be — that I found God’s presence and understood Him in a way that I never understood before.”
Westfall and her husband, Ben, are raising boys ages 10, 7, 4 and 3.
“Daily life is a little bit — beautiful chaos,” she said.
“When I think of really how God has been made bigger in my life, it has not been through grandeur, but through brokenness and through those kind of gritty pieces of my own story that He has been most evident,” Westfall said.
“What I’m learning right now is that to exalt God means to not come to Him for what we can get from Him, or get out of Him, or even to become good, but to come for Him and to really know Him,” Westfall concluded.
“That is my hope with all three of our speakers, that they”ll take the personal stories that God has written in their lives, and they can share that with us in a way that is … exalting God,” Harvey said.
In addition to Westfall, authors Christy Cabe and Carol Kent will witness at the conference.
Each speaker will have a booth selling her inspirational materials. Cabe, of Fort Wayne, has authored two books. Kent has written more than 20 books, with “Now I Lay My Isaac Down” as her best-known, Harvey said.
Revive Our Hearts ministry also will display its resources at the conference.
“Ladies will have lots of rich material to help focus them the Lord,” Harvey said.
The Exalt Women’s Conference will take place May 1 from 7-8:45 p.m. and May 2 from 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. at the church south of Auburn at 5555 C.R. 29.
Tickets for the conference are priced at $37.50 for early purchases. After March 15, the price will be $47.50. A group purchase of 10 or more tickets qualifies for one free ticket.
The ticket price includes lunch on Saturday, with gluten-free options available.
Women can register for the event at exaltwomensconference.com or by calling the church at 925-2006.
The conference is open to high school girls and older.