Over 10,000 women will come together in Lynchburg, Va., beginning Friday night for the annual Central Virginia Extraordinary Women Conference, featuring a number of notable guest performers and speakers, including former Alaskan governor and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
The conference, which begins this evening and wraps up Saturday, will take place at the Vines Convocation Center at Liberty University. The event has become so popular that the Vines Center, which will seat approximately 9,000 people tonight, sold out, so the EW team set up an overflow area at nearby Thomas Road Baptist Church.
"When my husband and I announced on Spirit FM in March that Gov. Palin had agreed to come, we sold out within three weeks,” said Julie Clinton, host of the event and president of the Extraordinary Women Association.
During the conference, speakers will touch on topics that relate to Everlasting Hope, the theme for Extraordinary Women conferences in 2011.
"We know how overwhelming life can be for women,” said Clinton in an interview with The Christian Post on Friday.
“We know that they give, give, give, and they work 24/7 and sometimes life seems to be hopeless. And so our dream is ... to offer them everlasting hope, and letting them know the only way they can have everlasting hope is through the Lord Jesus Christ."
All of the speakers and musical artists that are participating in the event have dealt with, or are dealing with, struggles in their lives that now lead them to speak to and encourage others with words of hope.
"We want to do more than just give a testimony and say, 'Hey, I've had a rough life.' We want to tell them, 'You know what, I'm with you. Girls I'm with you. I've had a tough year too, but this is what God's taught me through this,'" Clinton said.
Along with Palin and Clinton, speakers at the conference also include women like New York Times bestselling authors Donna VanLiere (The Christmas Shoes and The Christmas Blessing) and Lysa TerKeurst (Made to Crave), as well as inspiring author Jennifer Rothschild.
Music at the event will be performed by award-winning artists Jeremy Camp and Francesca Battistelli, along with Michael O'Brien and Meredith Andrews.
Clinton hopes that women will walk away from the conference knowing that “God loves them, He's got dreams for their lives, and there's hope and there's grace for them regardless of what they're going through.”
In addition to those women who will attend the conference on site, many others will be watching via simulcast all over North America. Though she wasn't sure of this year's numbers, Clinton said that in the past Extraordinary Women has broadcast events to about 200 churches in the U.S., Canada, the Bahamas and other countries as well.
Clinton and her husband founded Extraordinary Women nine years ago, beginning with their first conference in Roanoke, Va. They were once able to fit attendees into a large church, but they now fill up entire arenas with women who are seeking God and fellowship with one another.