Albany churches hosting events geared toward women

Former TV personality Ruthie Garner (center), stands in a family photo with her husband, Mike Garner (left), and son, Stephen Garner.

ALBANY — In one weekend, at least two Albany churches are hosting conference events geared toward women.

“Shine like the Stars,” a special event for ladies 12 and up, is, according to organizers, inspired by Daniel 12:3. It is taking place at 11 a.m. Saturday, with doors opening at 10:45 a.m., at First Free Will Baptist Church.

The church, located 420 N. Westover Blvd., will have Ruthie Garner as its speaker with music by Verse II.

Garner’s husband, Mike Garner, had cancer in 1985. Ruthie Garner was diagnosed with cancer in 2013, followed by her son, Stephen Garner, in 2016. All three are now cancer survivors.

At the women’s conference, the mother and wife of the Garner family is expected to share her family’s experience with cancer and tell how her faith has played a role in recovery.

“My story is pretty much what we went through as a family,” she said.

In her son’s case, what was initially thought to be pneumonia led to a Stage 4 cancer diagnosis when he was 25. At the time, Ruthie Garner was about 18 months out from her cancer, which was Stage 3 in the fallopian tubes.

“When you have cancer yourself, that is one thing,” Garner said. “When your child has it, it is a different set of emotions.”

Cancer changed the Garner family, and since surviving it, Ruthie Garner has shared it at multiple women’s conferences.

“We try to encourage people with our story,” she said. “We had a tremendous amount of support and prayer.

“I want it to be a message of hope. It was a faith walk; I wanted to trust the Lord.”

A member of Sherwood Baptist Church, Garner said her faith was instrumental in getting her through cancer. Her life changed with one phone call, and she found out that losing her hair and wearing a wig was not so bad after all.

She said she wants those at the conference to come out knowing that cancer is not something a person needs to cope with by themselves. She recalls having a lot of early-morning and late-night conversations with God, and said she believes He had a hand in every step of the process.

“If you are waiting on a call (and dealing with a cancer diagnosis), you don’t have to go through it alone,” she said. “I want them to leave with hope (and the message that) the Lord will be with you.”

Garner said she also came away learning not to stress about small stuff and to follow through with the tasks she set for herself.

“If you are talking about doing something, if you can do it, do it,” Garner said. “Don’t put it off.”

Call the church office at (229) 436-4021 for additional information or questions about child care arrangements.

At the same time, Friendship Missionary Baptist Church will host its women’s conference Friday through Sept. 22. The theme for the conference is “Heart, Mind and Soul Superwoman.”

“On behalf of Senior Pastor Rev. Carl H. White Jr. and the conference committee, you are cordially invited to inspire, educate and ignite the women of Albany, around and across the southwest Georgia region,” a news release on the event said. “A full weekend of food, friends, and fellowship that you won’t want to miss!”

Evangelist Jackie Hammond of Macedonia Christine Ministries is speaking on Friday evening. Regina Barnes of New Birth Fellowship Church will be the speaker of the hour for a Saturday brunch and expo — with a panel discussion also expected that day.

Yasmine White, the pastor’s wife, closes out the conference on the final day.

The event times are 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. Sept. 22. There is free admission with one bar of soap for donation to a prison mission ministry.

Friendship Missionary Baptist Church is located at 400 Pine Ave. The church can be found on Facebook and can be reached at (229) 436-1284 and at

For more information on Friendship’s women’s conference, contact Tamiko Ross-Jackson at (229) 291-5568 or

Staff Writer

I'm a 2007 graduate of Georgia Southern University, and I've been a reporter for The Albany Herald since 2008. I cover news related to health care, Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany, SOWEGA Council on Aging and other areas as assigned.

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