They call it a “Tea Party,” but actually it’s a full evening for women from the community in and around Floyd, Iowa, a small town 30 miles south of the Minnesota line. It all began when the Friday morning ladies’ group at Gospel Lighthouse Church began praying for a way to reach across religious and social lines.

“We now have Catholics, Lutherans, Methodists, horse-and-buggy Mennonites, you-name-it,” says pastor’s wife Dixie Phillips. “Last month more than 200 packed into our fellowship hall.”

The event starts with seating guests at tables for eight, each of which has two Gospel Lighthouse hostesses to welcome them warmly. Food and door prizes are then followed by a time of worship, special music, and a testimony from a local woman.

But that’s not the end. An extended prayer time at the tables gets underway, the hostesses asking if anyone has a special need. They then lead in prayer for whatever is mentioned. Eventually the hostesses pray a prayer of blessing over each visitor. “There are many tears,” Dixie Phillips reports. “The masks come off, and women begin their spiritual journey around those tables.”

The “Tea Parties” met first in a Mennonite tea room, then grew to use the local library’s meeting room. Even that proved not to be big enough, so the church rented a banquet hall at a local motel. Again the attendance grew too large. Finally, Gospel Lighthouse’s fellowship hall was completed, providing adequate space for the outreach.

“We work very hard to make each guest feel loved and comfortable,” says Dixie. “It is just amazing for me to stand back and see God move among the most unlikely women.”

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