Veirdre Jackson, left, engages an audience member at the Women’s Conference presented by the Ocean City New Jersey Women of Faith on Saturday. By Maddy VitaleWomen of all faiths from Ocean City and the surrounding area gathered for a one-day women’s conference Saturday that organizers say definitely forged new bonds and strengthened old ones as they listened to an inspirational featured speaker.The conference, titled “Living on Purpose For Him,” centered around connecting women through Christ and God.The featured speaker, Veirdre Jackson, an award-winning educator, entrepreneur and spiritual advocate, kept the audience engaged throughout three sessions. Her focus was strength, authenticity and renewal.Women waved their hands over their heads, while some reacted to Jackson’s words with a resounding “Yes!”They filled the Ocean City Tabernacle, located at 550 Wesley Ave., for the all-day program.The Women’s Conference inspires some audience members to sing along during a portion of the program.More than half of Ocean City’s churches were represented at this year’s conference. The hope is that the interest in the conference will spread to the remainder of churches in the community. There are approximately 13.Each attendee received a packet with handouts and sections where people could write their thoughts. “Who is waiting on you to stop being afraid?” was one question. Audience members jotted down some thoughts.Diana D’Angelis, of Upper Township, along with friends, Claudia Ibarra, of Ocean City, and Laura Raiker, of Somers Point, all of Coastal Christian, attended the conference.During the lunch break, the three women and new friend and fellow attendee, Carol Lipczynski, of Ocean City, joined for lunch.“She is enlightening,” D’Angelis said of Jackson. “She is really talking about how we look at life and respond to the challenges of life.”Ibarra summed up how she felt about Jackson.“She is amazing,” she noted.Raiker said it was evident that the speaker put her heart and passion into the program. “She is an inspiration,” Raiker said. “She talks about the struggles of all women.”From left, audience members Laura Raiker, of Somers Point, Claudia Ibarra, Ocean City, Diane D’Angelis, of Upper Township, and Carol Lipczynski, Ocean City, enjoy a lunch break during the all-day program.Jackson, who is the CEO and founder of Living Strong Consulting LLC and founder of Fresh Fountain of Life Counseling and Wellness, gave the audience members ways to stay focused in their lives, why they should stay strong and how they could attain their goals.The first step, Jackson said, is to show up.“He’s not asking you to figure it out. He is asking you to just show up,” Jackson said, referring to God. “Resourcefulness will push you through.Jennifer Shirk, co-organizer of the conference and member of Ocean City New Jersey Women of Faith, said that the buzz throughout the morning was that the conference has been so enjoyable and the speaker so fantastic, that the committee should consider another women’s conference.“We had over 200 people register,” said Shirk, a member of Coastal Christian in Ocean City. “It has really been great. I thought people would come from Ocean City only, but people have come from Cape May and all over.”Phyllis Masterson, conference co-organizer and a member of the First Presbyterian Church in Ocean City, said of the event, “This is the most wonderful event. Everyone from the different churches have bonded. If we have another one, it will be even bigger because there were so many friendships made today.”Jennifer Shirk (left) and Phyllis Masterson, the two organizers of the Women’s Conference, say they hope to host another one just like it next year.During her remarks, Jackson gave the audience anecdotes of life lessons. She energetically used props while moving quickly about the stage and making sure to focus on audience members from the middle to the side sections of the venue.She used a 25-pound weight and an analogy. Faith is like a muscle, it develops by being used over time, she said.A faith muscle is like a physical muscle — you must work at it to achieve results, she told the women.Jackson asked the audience to think about their greatest problems. It isn’t places or things as much as how people respond to them, she pointed out.She asked the audience who were the people waiting for them to stop being scared, to have faith in oneself and begin to make an impact.Veirdre Jackson uses water to symbolize how women should stay thirsty to achieve what they were meant to in life.At one point in the mid-day motivational session, Jackson asked that everyone take out little red stickers that were tucked in their packets.They were to stand and place the stickers everywhere they feel pain when they worry.Audience members stood up and quickly participated in the exercise. Stickers mostly dotted people’s heads, hearts and necks.Women must stop being worriers and be warriors, Jackson said to applause. “If we start fearing, fear has cousins. He has called you to be a warrior, not a worrier. Worry is self-harassment.”She took a bottle of water and showed it to the audience. Jackson, a runner, said after her race, someone will hand her a water.“He is calling you to get thirsty. Get thirsty after everything that is meant for you,” she added.Songs were a big part of the morning sessions. Gretchen Murphy, a member of the First Presbyterian Church in Ocean City, sings to the audience.Jackson ended the late morning portion of the day with words about renewal. “Renew your mind,” she said.She told the women that they must be authentic. That showing up, being who you are, and staying strong and being loving are keys to happiness.You are what you think, Jackson stressed. Her acronym for think was T.H.I.N.K. signifying the point she wished to convey.Tested by fireHealed for a purpose Influence to othersNo matter what the faithKnow you are enoughMarie Stokes, who was on the committee for the conference, said she is looking forward to another women’s conference. “Veirdre Jackson will be a tough act to follow, though,” Stokes saidShirk said she was overjoyed by the turnout and the thought of having another women’s conference is wonderful.“If women are willing to come, we are more than willing to plan it again,” Shirk said with a smile.Shirk, Masterson and Stokes agreed the day was amazing.The end result of the conference was the goal the committee wished to achieve when they began the journey over a year ago.More than 200 women of all denominations joined for fellowship and listened and learned from a motivational and spiritual speaker about how to enhance their lives.Women of all ages and denominations enjoy the conference.Veirdre Jackson’s staff work her table, which has items for sale and information on her latest book.