By Molly Flinchum
A women’s ministry in the Forsyth County area is battling bad health, insecurities, and spiritual warfare through a non-profit known as Imago Dei. What started as a small Bible study has grown over ten years as a fully functioning non-profit that provides bi-weekly studies, retreats, and ways to reach out to the local community through charity work.
Imago Dei means “in the image of God.” This organization seeks to help women become more like God through studying scripture, helping those in the community, and keeping physically fit. They base this off of the Bible verse, 1 Thessalonians 5: 23:
“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Imago Dei originally started as the ‘Tina Parker Bible Study’ before it became a non-profit. While Tina Parker played a significant role in the formation and progression of Imago Dei, she was happy to have the name changed to fit the mission of this organization.
“My heart was broken for women who may go to church and a lot of them do, some don’t that come through our doors and come through our activities, but that they’re really missing actually living an abundant life and being really free, really free from things that kind of hold women back in today’s world. Those are things like having their identity placed in the way they look, their job, maybe their husband’s job, or their children, or their home,” said Parker.
“When you put your identity in all those things, that’s a rocky road, a slippery slope to be on,” she said. “But when your identity is in Christ and the image of God, then not only do you have a solid foundation, but you’re really choosing to live the life God has called you for you to have.”
Imago Dei has a bi-weekly Bible study in the fall and the spring. It begins with breakfast, which leads into a time of fellowship, large group teaching, small group teaching, and then the meetings are ended with exercise.
“The thing that makes Imago Dei unique is our component to really touch the women in each aspect of the way that they were designed,” said Parker. “Anything that we offer athletic is for those who exercise at any level, whether you’ve never been an athlete or you’re a competitive athlete. It’s for everybody.”
Another facet of Imago Dei is the Image Quest Weekend. These weekend retreats allow women to get away and focus on studying the Bible while also engaging in different kinds of athletic adventures. In the past, they have gone surfing, scuba diving, cross-country skiing, and ridden horseback across the beach.
Along with retreats and Bible studies, Imago Dei also has a program that is called “IDA,” which stands for Imago Dei in Action. These IDA events allow women to get involved in various community outreach programs throughout the year. Imago Dei gives out blankets to the homeless in downtown Winston-Salem every winter. They also host triathlons and mystery retreats.
Karen Simmons has been a part of the organization for all ten years. Simmons started by being a trainer for the exercise portion of the Bible study, and then became one of Imago Dei’s leaders.
“Imago Dei is like no other ministry I have ever seen or been a part of,” Simmons said. “Imago Dei desires to speak to women the truth of how our heavenly Father sees us, and who he desires and designed us to be.”