SOAR conference

Local women are invited to spend a day in fellowship and hear a renowned speaker at an upcoming women’s conference scheduled for the beginning of next month.

The first SOAR Women’s Conference will be held on the Texas A&M University-Commerce campus, and is being hosted by Cup of Tea Events. Cup of Tea Director Debbie Patterson said that this event has been years in the making.

“Ever since I moved to Commerce 18 years ago, I have been heavily involved in women’s ministry,” Patterson said. “About two years ago, I started Cup of Tea and had monthly women’s events in my own home, and in that time more than 200 people have participated.”

Patterson said that she got the idea to bring a speaker to town for a bigger event, and the SOAR Conference was born.

This year’s event will feature a worship team, ice breakers, games, door prizes and more. The main speaker will be Teresa Richenberger.

Richenberger was a teenage runaway who became an exotic dancer and later began engaging in prostitution. She fell deep into the grip of drugs and alcohol. A deadly overdose that nearly took her life made her reevaluate her actions, and she climbed out of the hole through her Christian faith.

Richenberger’s story is recounted in her book “Sold to the Highest Bidder,” published in 2012.

She now a director at Rahab’s Retreat and Ranch in Kilgore, Texas, where women escaping sex trafficking, substance abuse, domestic violence and more can receive rehabilitation treatment free for an entire year.

The SOAR Women’s Conference will take place Nov. 2 at the Sam Rayburn Student Center at A&M-Commerce from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Lunch will be included.

In addition to community members, women at the university are encouraged to come as well. Tickets are $15, but are $12 for university students. Students can purchase their tickets at the university’s Baptist Student Ministry building located at 1612 Lee Street in Commerce. General-price tickets are available online at

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