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Indy Faith Spotlight: ‘Once a sister friend, always a sister friend’: Sister Friends Fellowship ends after 20 years of ministry

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In August 2002, 30 women gathered at Cornerstone Church of the Living God P.G.T. for the inaugural Sister Friends Fellowship meeting.

The women’s ministry began as a place to connect with God and other women, and the ministry’s creator, Deirdre Burton, believes she achieved that goal over the past 20 years.

“I really feel like we did as God has commanded,” Burton said. “We felt like it was time for us to wrap it up.”

After the initial event, Sister Friends Fellowship would have two gatherings annually, every August and December, for the next two decades, but on Aug. 27, the ministry hosted its final meeting.

“It’s bittersweet because we have had a wonderful 20 years,” said the ministry’s secretary, Earlene Harrison.

Over the years, the fellowship group would host many community projects, team-bonding retreats, conferences and classes, all filled with laughter, tears, hugs and worship. The Sister Friends Fellowship also awarded more than 500 scholarships to women over 40 going back to school.

Harrison said sharing with the other women what God can do throughout your life strengthened her relationship with God and helped her with her faith walk.

One of the most memorable events for the fellowship group was their trip to Bedford in August 2012. There was a convention at the Salvation Army Hidden Falls Camp and Conference Center that the “sister friends” went to. Harrison enjoyed watching the women zipline, while Burton’s favorite memory was when the members walked across a suspension bridge.

“I think just going across there and cheering the other ladies on, I think that was my most memorable event,” Burton said. “That truly was a walk of faith.”

The final gathering was very emotional, Burton said. There was a slideshow of pictures from over the years, and Burton received a $1,600 scholarship to help pay the costs of her schooling. They gave away commemorative coffee cups to all the members.
The members participated in their final community project, donating 200 men’s and women’s deodorant.

“Once a sister friend, always a sister friend,” Burton said. “So, although we won’t have our gatherings anymore, we’re always sister friends. The community continues to live on.”

Contact religion reporter Abriana Herron at 317-924-5243 or by email abrianah@indyrecorder.com. Follow her on Twitter @Abri_onyai. Herron is a Report for America corps member and writes about the role of Black churches in the community.

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