Women of faith to ‘shine’ at conference

Pam Griffin
This group of local Destin women joined together last year because they wanted to make a difference in their community. This year they’ve expanded their outreach and have two well-known, international speakers joining their efforts. Pictured are (front, from left) Dr. Kimberly Ray, G. Gay Landreth, Valerie Peterson, Rev. Dee Chernicky, Mona Ponder, Sonya Cunningham, Kellie Spears, and (back, from left) Amanda Wilders, Diana Dylnicki, Tori Chiasson, Robyn Bomar, Michelle Wilders and Misty Parenzan.

When the first Shine On Women’s Conference was held in March 2012 at the Emerald Grande at HarborWalk, it was a huge success with a sold-out crowd.

This year the event will be held March 15-16 and has moved to the Emerald Coast Convention Center on Okaloosa Island as the Shine On Women’s and Teen’s Conference.

“(It) is a gathering of women and teens who are coming together to seek God, to be encouraged and empowered by His Word and to find His will for their lives,” Dee Chernicky told The Log. “It is a place where women and teens will fellowship and make life long connections. It’s a place where dreams will be empowered, and where revelation for living your best God-life will be revealed.”

Chernicky, a wife, mother, author, and business entrepreneur, is a licensed and ordained minister through Destiny Worship Center, founder of One Heart One Voice Ministries, and the host of the Shine On Women’s and Teen’s Conference.

In addition to Chernicky, six other teachers with diverse backgrounds and ministries will share their biblical knowledge. Selection of the women is a thoughtful process, according to Chernicky.

“I spend a lot of time in prayer,” she said. “I seek God and ask Him to reveal His heart to me concerning the message that He has for His women. Then, I ask Him who has that message to impart.”

This year’s speakers are Ruth Graham, daughter of World Evangelist the Rev. Billy Graham; Cathy Duplantis with Jesse Duplantis International Ministries; Scarlett Harrington from the Goodness of God Church; Mona Ponder with Business Empowered based in Destin; Valerie Peterson, licensed mental health counselor; and Faith Ellisor, an author and speaker.

“They are all seasoned women of faith who have walked through the storms of life and have come out victorious on the other side with an incredible amount of wisdom,” Chernicky said. “They are women who have fruitful ministries and businesses because they are faithful to stay connected to the vine. John 15:5 says, ‘I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit.’ That says a lot about the integrity and anointing of our speakers.”

Worship leader Michelle Wilders, who has had the privilege to be a part of such ministries as Joyce Meyer and Benny Hinn, will set the atmosphere with pure praise.

Visit shineonconference.com for schedule, costs and registration information.

Ruth Graham

Ruth Graham is an experienced conference speaker and Bible teacher known for her honesty and authenticity.

As founder and president of Ruth Graham & Friends, her role in the body of Christ is to motivate people by God’s comfort and loving acceptance from a place of brokenness to a place of wholeness.

At the Conference, Graham told The Log she would give her own personal testimony — “If Jesus Keeps Us Polished We Will Shine” and the example, “My Mother — A Shining Example.”

“The most important thing women should know in 2013 is that God is a big God and He is crazy about us,” she said. “God is personally involved in our lives, even the failures, mistakes. I want them to fall in love with Jesus.”

Graham, the third child of Ruth and Billy Graham, who has for the 56th time since 1955 been named to the USA Today/Gallup Top 10 list of Most Admired Men in the World, said her father was just human.

“He is a dear and the older he gets, the dearer he becomes to me. He may have been Billy Graham to the world, but he is ‘Daddy’ to me. I have a wonderful legacy of faith, but we all have the opportunity to pass a legacy to our children.”

Graham will also speak at Village Baptist Church the morning of March 17 about “The Language of Heaven.”

Faith Ellisor

The Teen Conference for ages 13 and up will be led by Faith Ellisor, a pastor’s wife and mother who has been in Christian Radio for more than 20 years. She will focus her talk on who God sees us to be and why, based on her new Bible study, “God’s Girl by Design.”

“I have been a youth minister and cannot imagine any life but serving God,” she told The Log. “I love teens and I cannot wait to meet each of them in March.”

Teens, especially girls, face an excessive amount of pressure and lies to fit into “industry” standards of beauty and worth, according to Ellisor.

“I feel very strongly that young women today need to hear what the truth is about who they are, and that beauty stems from within them rather than upon them,” she said.

Her message to the teens will be that they matter and are of great worth.

“They have been formed by the very Hand of God Himself and that makes them priceless.”

Mona Ponder

Mona Ponder, born in Germany, grew up in the Destin area. She attended Florida State University and graduated in 1990 with a B.S. in business marketing and a minor in communication. Her career includes banking branch management, personnel management, and owning and operating several retail stores.

Ponder and her husband, Mel, have a combination of experience in both ministry and the marketplace that makes them uniquely qualified to build, connect, and encourage business leaders and individuals in their calling and to equip them with Godly tools and principles to excel and minister in the marketplace through Business Empowered.

Whether a single mom, stay at home mom, or working mom, Ponder is passionate about empowering and encouraging women to be the woman God called them to be. Defending the rights of the poor and needy and “bestowing beauty for ashes” in women’s lives is something she sees as a privilege.

Valerie Peterson

In private practice with Destin Counseling Center in Destin, licensed mental health counselor Valerie Peterson specializes in women’s issues, marriage and family issues, and addictions. A licensed minister through the International Conference of Faith Ministries, she is also an award-winning writer and co-founder of the Shine On Women’s Conference.

Peterson’s message, coupled with practical wisdom and insight, challenges women to become transformed by renewing their minds with the Word of God.


Online registration is at www.shineonconference.org and includes two speaker luncheons. Group rates are available. To volunteer, call 366-3550 or see website.