Moving to a new community can often leave a person lost and lonely.
Christ Community Church in Huntersville hopes to combat that by helping women meet friends and feel hopeful about their new life at a one-day conference on Saturday called "Moving On After Moving In!"
The conference is based on the book "After the Boxes are Unpacked, Moving on after Moving In," by Susan Miller. The book also has become a weekly course that churches offer for women new to the area.
Julie Tipton, who took classes on Miller's book when she first moved to the Lake Norman area, said that Christ Community Church first offered the one-day conference last year.
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Fifteen women who were new to the community attended.
"It was wonderful," said Tipton, who is the lead facilitator for the conference. "A lot of these women have stayed in touch with each other and become friends and gotten involved in the community."
Some of the women were so affected by the conference that they are leaders at this year's conference, Tipton said. The conference, which runs 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m., is designed to have a "homey" feel.
The group meets in a room in the church that Tipton says is like a big living room, with comfortable couches rather than rows of chairs.
For parts of the conference, the women sit at tables with a facilitator who asks questions and shares information from Miller's book.
"The workshop had a lot of time for discussion and for the women to share their feelings," Tipton said. "Because these women were all either new to the community or feeling new to the community, they had that bond between them."
The conference is divided into three discussions. First, the women talk about how to let go from things of their past and recognize the "baggage" they brought with them on their move, such as missing family and friends or anger toward their husbands for having their family move here.
"We actually give them each a real luggage tag, and they write down an emotion they are dealing with," Tipton said. "Then they have time to discuss those emotions."
Discussions can get emotional, and Tipton said leaders keep a box of tissues on hand.
The groups then talk about how to start over, including how to make this area a home, and they finish with a discussion about how to move forward in their lives and build connections in the community, be it with neighbors or co-workers.
The event isn't all heavy discussion; Tipton emphasized that they have icebreaker games, door prizes and goody bags for participants.
When the women first arrive, their picture is taken and they are asked to pin it on a large U.S. map indicating from where they moved.
Leaders also set a table with information about things to do in Charlotte and maps of the area.
Tipton said that Christ Community Church hopes to reach out to people who may feel lonely or displaced.
"We want to give them at least a starting point, a safe place where they can meet other people and find resources that will help them adjust to the area," Tipton said. "We look at it as a way to be a good neighbor."
The conference costs $20, which includes lunch and a copy of Miller's book, and is open to the community.
For more information, call Christ Community Church at 704-875-8374 or e-mail Tipton at firstname.lastname@example.org.