COLUMBIA — On Saturday, women from Second Missionary Baptist Church, 407 E. Broadway, took their seats for their annual First Lady Luncheon.
Women wore pink handmade pins that resemble a lily fastened to their blouses as they entered the church to celebrate themselves and their first lady, Sheila Ruffin — in some churches, congregants refer to their pastor's wife as the first lady.
Ruffin said she usually plans the event and puts on the luncheon for the women of her church. This year, however, the planning committee asked her not to participate in the organizing and instead asked her to make sure she didn’t plan anything for the day. The women of the church wanted to show their appreciation for her.
The 2011 Women’s Planning Team members donned smiles and hospitality as they greeted their guests.
“We had the most wonderful group of ladies,” said Pam Solomon, co-chair of the planning team. She said the members on the team were loving and helpful in organizing the entire luncheon.
The team was also hospitable to the children of guests. In a Sunday school classroom, Solomon's daughter, 13-year-old Alycia Solomon, kept children occupied with coloring books and movies.
“She was willing to do anything I asked her to do. So, she’s worked as hard as me,” Alycia’s mother said.
The walls of the Christian Education Center inside Second Baptist were lined with women’s “church hats.” Hats were also used as centerpieces for the tables.
One table was covered with several types of salads — garden, pasta and fruit — which the women of the church had been asked to prepare and donate. Other members of the church donated finger sandwiches.
Guest speakers spoke about health awareness, as well as the theme of the luncheon, “Christian Women Working Together in the Favor of God.”
One of the speakers, Ericka Fadel, began to cry as she sang a hymn she said motivated her during hard times. As she became overwhelmed, the women in the room began to sing the along with her.
Later, gifts were given to the three guest speakers. The committee also raffled off gift baskets, health awareness gift bags and flower centerpieces.
The last gift presented was to Ruffin.
After Ruffin pulled out the pink and black pieces of tissue paper from a gift bag, she opened a white box, revealing a bright pink hat. As her eyes widened, she put on her new hat and strutted between the tables modeling her newest accessory.
Along with her new hat, Ruffin also received a basket of gifts from members of the church. Small slips of paper with an accompanying pink envelope had been handed to guests as they arrived, so they could write personal notes to their first lady.
“It really was a blessing, because it doesn’t happen everyday you know,” Ruffin said.