Pearls, Pumps & Purpose: Women’s Empowerment Luncheon


Program CoverThe hottest ticket in town this past Saturday was the “Pearls, Pumps & Purpose” Women’s Empowerment & Networking Luncheon hosted by the Business & Professional Women’s Federation of Southside Church of God in Christ.

Sure, you could have opted  to attend the Jacksonville Black Expo, Edward Waters College Homecoming parade and game, or even ventured to see “Sid the Science Guy,” but here’s the thing: each of the close to 100 women in attendance were purposed to be there to enjoy an afternoon of bliss, networking, fashion, and be edified by some awesome pearls of wisdom from the theme: “Empowered to Pursue.”  

It was my honor to serve as a keynote speaker for the event. My gracious thanks to Missionary Karen Lewis and her  best friend Jennie Blue who was certain (certain!) my inclusion on the program was destiny manifest. I am grateful that JB covets such unwavering belief in “P.” Also, thank you for asking almost two months in advance.

There are few things I enjoy more than the genuine gathering of like-minded women who wholeheartedly share my faith and belief in the possibilities of what we can do in our individual lives to fulfill our Godly purpose.

The latter is more than a notion; it’s a spiritual charge.

Event Ticket

As I prepared my “speak ease” ( as I like to refer to my delivery style), it became more and more abundantly clear to me that God has placed us on this earth to do help him advance the Kingdom for his glory, not our own. I’ll speak more on this later when I share pertinent sound bites from my “speak ease.”

But first,

allow me to share how absolutely fabulous we women of darkened, sun-kissed hues looked in our seasonal couture complimented by pearls of every combine to offer a touch of class.

There were the familiar long strands of white, hanging loose like circular snakes draping one’s dress and also colossal groupings of gathered chokers, some were accented with silver rhinestones that rested gently upon the neck.

The more complex offering of cultured shells technically-connected to gems and jewels that defied the color white, yet they maintained safe allegiance to the thematic: PEARLS!

Style maven and Fashionista Jennie Blue (pictured below) was simply beautiful from head to toe to pearls to Tiffany sunglasses.

Yes, THAT Tiffany!

Jennie Blue Solo

A spirit-filled prayer set the tone followed by greetings from Missionary Karen Lewis, the auxiliary’s president, who taught us all a thing or three about how pearls are really formed…it’s about so much more than an oyster (Karen Lewis, pictured below).

Karen Lewis Solo
Church of God in Christ

Business & Professional Women’s Federation

MISSION:  Based on the belief that God has empowered and equipped by the Holy Spirit business and professional women to serve as godly examples in the home, schools, communities and the world, the mission of the women of the Business and Professioinal Women’s Federation of the Church of God in Chirst is to share their God-given resources and expertise, to care for the general welfare of all people and to help spread love, joy, happiness and the Word of God by being living testimonies to people everywhere.

HISTORY AND PURPOSE (excerpt): …The first chapter was organized in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. In 1976, the late General Supervisor Mattie McGlothen appointed the late Mother Victoria Barnes as National President. Mother Barnes served faithfully until her sudden demise on January 21, 1997. During the Interim period, the First Vice-President Missionary Lee Powell served as Acting National President. On November 11, 1999, Mother Willie Mae Rivers appointed Frances Miller-Harris as National President. She was installed in January 2000…”

This blessed & spiritual event was also about so much more than making a fashion statement and sitting pretty in pearls, poised to hear how  we God-fearing women can maximize our existence on earth and walk in purpose, yours truly fret just a tad about what to wear…and the storied relationship I do not enjoy with my hair came full circle.

So, I simply acquired some new hair:

A fake follicle acquisition of weaved hair fame —  compliments of my cousin and master stylist Shirley Ann Eady. Penny's New Hair

Then, I slightly fretted over what to wear. I actually hate pearls. They make me feel like I’ve been inhabited by the millennium spirit of former First Lady Barbara Bush.  Yes, pearls are classy, yes pearls are Jackie Onassis necessary, yessss pearls were thematic to the event, and God loves obedience more than sacrifice, by man oh man oh man: I did not want to wear a typical, three-strand symbolic offering of neckness. So I didn’t.

Much like our life’s purpose, everything women usually need to fulfill our mission is within us, within our home, or within our own  jewelry cache. And that is where my pseudo pearl, jeweled neck piece lay…just waiting for a presentation reprise. I rarely (if ever) wear panty hose, but attempted on this day. Within an hour, a long line of failure ran up my right leg.

Penny on the Patio It is pure irony that I matched the golf green in the image  captured by Jennie Blue who I’ve nicknamed “Madame Wonderful.”

Indeed the lighting was grand and while I’m a creature who’s most comfortable in muted tones of brown, black, or grey, I went with color: bold and adorned by a Chicos scarf that has also been waiting in the wings with its neck-piece counterpart…for a purposed, fashion reprise…for such a time as this.

But we ALL looked great. Every woman in the room. Every purpose driven soul was able to individually surface her “self” and channel a mode of presentation that gave the conference room a warm radiance as we sat “in the round.”Penny And WilleanEdwina and Penny

Penny and JCAunt Pat and Penny

“If it looks like “selfie-saturation,” it’s necessary as each of the women in these photos are incredibly special human beings to me.

The auburn hair, Mademoiselle is my soror and longtime pageant friend Willean Tarver Hadley whom it was a pleasure to see.

In the navy with a red camisole is my beautiful Aunt Patricia Scott who is a 2014 breast cancer survivor (Fist Pound Aunt Pat), the ear-to-ear grinning, long- haired goddess is my FSCJ student Edwina Burch-my fierce mentee and a  future attorney.

 Edwina “networked” her way, on this day, into a invitation to intern with an Assistant State Attorney and by 5:00 p.m. the same day, was following through via iPhone (a woman of purpose after my own heart).

And the” giant of a gem” wearing black is none other than Jocelyn “J.C.” Copeland who has been a part of my life since pageantry days, through the AEAONMS Shriners days, her daughters are my sisters, her husband, Deacon Copeland, is my surrogate father: we are family.

It was simply a blessing to have them each in my company and sitting at the same table along with my colleague Andreia Simmons-Thaxton, Ph.D., and my regal sister Linda Herron who is recently retired after 29 years of serving “Army Strong.”  I have nicknamed her the “Stateside Miriam Makeba.”  Linda


Surely you don’t believe I could bring forth all of the answers to purpose all by myself  do you?  I did not.

I had  dual “speaker- assist” and together, we carried the afternoon like an oratory trinity who’d possibly planned the transition of one woman’s thoughts into the next. The results were an edified room of attentive women who graciously applauded; but of course, we gave God all of the glory.

Keynote speakers

Keynote Speakers

  The mother-daughter team of Shakira Thompson and LaVerne  Floyd Mitchell offered jewels of spiritual hope that were educational, humorous, prop-enhanced and spiritually edifying.

Shakira kicked-off the program and touched on much including 2 Corinithians 5:17:

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come” NIV

She was steadfast and measured as she advanced her presentation to include sowing a seed of business knowledge into the life of a woman in purpose.

Shakira offered my lucky sister Linda an opportunity for business mentoring from none other than Shakira  herself: an M.B.A. in Business Administration.

She is currently promoting her latest book release “High Noon Justice” which was available for purchase at the  luncheon as well.High Noon Justice

Her motivating mother followed, but had pre-placed metallic pom-poms on each table prior to her presentation. I couldn’t wait to see how those were going to be integrated into her presentation, and she didn’t disappoint. Her most poignant prop was the word of God and how it aligns with a whole lot of everyday common sense  woman in business and professional settings need to employ:laverne-book

1.   Know your industry and market yourself.

2.  Be fearless (God hasn’t given us a spirit of fear).

3.  Be willing to move people out of your life or change your scenery.

And of course she offered much more, but the highlight (for me) was her bold and magnificent, audience “call and response” that motivated everyone to believe they are a positive winner who can and will achieve their Godly purpose. LOVED THAT!

Both presentations were far more expansive and in-depth, but I am ever conscious of sharing salient points without 100% recall of exacts. This is why you should have purchased a ticket and attended Saturday’s hottest ticket in town! You missed some great stuff!

And then there was me, and I Do have 100% recall of all of my “speak easy” facts; however, I’ll simply touch on what I believe mattered most.Woman of purpose

I am neither a preacher, an evangelist, prophet, or bible-totin’, bumper-sticker, t-shirt wearing Christian whose walk with Christ has been 100% stellar.  I chose to capitalize on my many life failures and how much of God’s time I’ve wasted falling prey to purpose-pitfalls versus accepting salvation and remaining a consistent woman of God.

I am human. I have known and experienced exceptional triumph  as well as a bevy of personal disasters that have rendered me both hopeless and feeling ill-equipped to serve God.

Many of these failures or setbacks have also left me believing I’ve ruined my testimony, but thanks to God’s Grace, I have been afforded more time, more time, and still more time to get my act together and both pursue & fulfill divine purpose.
  1. I was candid and transparent and honest and raw.
  2. I admitted that I was just as flawed and imperfect as a woman who’d never known the roar of applause.
  3. I second-guessed wearing the scarf…it did just what I feared: fell off my left shoulder (Ugh!).
  4. I was pressed for time, but had just  enough time.
  5. I was tired of that long microphone cord and silly,  fragile mic.
  6. I was up close and personal with my listening ears versus submitting to the barrier of a podium (no harm/no foul to podium presenters).
  7.  I plaintively catalogued all of the pertinent body parts gone to pasture via surgeries and mishaps and cancer followed by more mishaps..
  8. I emphasized that beyond the honors and accolades, tiaras and sashes; beyond the spotlight and applause, I have two of the most important things God requires:

                   I have a heart and I have a purpose.

The following are a few teasers from my “speak ease”:

  • Your purpose and gift(s) are spiritually connected: show God that he can trust you with your gift(s) and he’ll catapult you into a place you would have never imagined.
  • Purpose and TIME are divinely intertwined.  I have survived mentally and physically for a reason: God is affording me time to do complete my purpose on earth.
  • Christianity is demonstrative, not simply declarative:  “Live by example and let  your light so shine…” Matthew 5:16 
  • “Delight yourself in the ways of the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart”  Psalm 37:4.  It is a complete scripture/passage. Stop leaning on just the end.
  • Surround yourself with friends who sustain you instead of those who drain you. Don’t allow other’s inability to identify their purpose to stifle you from pursuing yours.
  • Be prepared and ready for specific  opportunities to pursue your purpose when it presents: stop “getting ready to fixin’ ta do sumthin’ in a minute or tomorrow.”

Of course I delivered much more and within each point, offered anecdotes and personal examples of life altering situations that continue to bring me forward to walking in purpose.

But as I mentioned earlier, you should have purchased a ticket and attended!!!  Or, you can hear it in its entirety the next time I “Penny Purpose.”

There was awesome networking, and I look forward to connecting and staying in touch with all of these ladies.JC Penny and Theresa

Most appreciative am I of the immediate extension of gratitude by both Karen Lewis and Jennie Blue. I’m a firm believer that a spoken thank you or card (or both) are the hallmarks of professionalism.  Straight-up, Emily Post ON POINT!

I’d participate again in a heartbeat as this stellar event absolutely aligned with my personal goals and  fulfilling my purpose.


To view a full gallery of event photos, visit Jennie Blue’s magnificent  website: http://usgirls04.wix.com/usgirls#!gallery02

Visit  Sharika R. Thompson at the following sites:



Visit LaVern Floyd Mitchell at the following sites:



Penny Dickerson 2014

Thank you Montage









6 comments on “Pearls, Pumps & Purpose: Women’s Empowerment Luncheon

  1. Awesome summation, I believe a great time was had by all. Karen and Jennie are THE BEST! I enjoyed your “speak ease.”


  2. What a beautiful summation of this AWESOME event and yes, Karen and Jennie are the BEST!


  3. Penny I cannot believe out of all our years together this was my 1st time witnessing and hearing your God gifted talent (Keynote Speaker)…..You were awesome!!!!!! I guess I can say I knew you were blessed with the gift of GAB from the pageant days (LOL)…
    Love You!


    • JayCee, It’s funny how our gifts find their season and platform. This years has been a unique
      season of Keynote “P.” I sat on a panel for Mayor Alvin Brown earlier this year (summer?)
      and many people said the same: “I had no idea…you are goooood!” My response to all:
      “I RECEIVE THAT!” Love you always! P


  4. Have you ever had an epiphany? While I have not had any famous epiphanies like Issac Newton or Archimedes – I do have divine revelations from time to time, as I believe we all do. To quote P…”Here’s the thing” (I love it when she says that, because I know something profound is coming) Sorry, I digressed…When “one” has a TRUE epiphany and “acts” upon it, I have no doubt that a blessing is coming. What we in attendance witnessed on Saturday, was what I refer to as epiphany realization/manifestation, and we were truly blessed by Penny’s “raw” revelations, wisdom and wit as well as Shakira and LaVerne’s “Pearls of Wisdom”. Thank you Karen for your vision… it was an awesome event! I encourage all who are reading this blog for the first time to continue to follow #pennydickersonwrites. Also catch up and read the previous entries for they are truly amazing. I am not savvy in Slangology, but I do believe the phrase “Turn Down For What” is appropriate for Saturday
    Smooches, JayBee


    • JayBee, Madame Wonderful, True Blue: If “support” were a mountain, you’d be Kilamanjaro. I appreciate you immensely on an array of levels: gratitude to admiration. I have chills from Saturday. Your epiphany may be in alignment with my “peace of purpose.” I know I was meant to share from my heart. That I am gifted at the delivery simply makes it more pleasurable. Here’s the thing: (Gotcha!). Actually, men I’ve dated, students I’ve taught have said, “Here’s the thing” is generally a set-up for something really, really, bad. LOL. The latter is untrue; however, I do keep my pulse on “a thing.” The wonderful Shakira and LaVerne have both been in touch and I ran into another woman present yesterday: Vivienne Miller. I am full and blessed and on the edge of my seat awaiting God’s “next.” I receive your epiphany and thank you and Karen Lewis with an abundance of sincerity. With slang, I thee close: “Turn Down for What?” PURPOSE!


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