Tickets for the 14th annual Praise Breakfast have sold out. For more information, contact the Scenic City Women’s Network at 423-698-6262 or www.scwn.org.
A joint appearance in Chattanooga by two members of the Hobby Lobby family could be considered a coup.
"I think we've really only spoken together at events we've hosted," muses Lauren Green McAfee by phone from company headquarters in Oklahoma City. McAfee will visit Chattanooga next week with her mom, Jackie Green, as keynote speakers of the 14th annual Praise Breakfast, presented by Scenic City Women's Network, whose mission is to "encourage, equip and energize" Chattanooga's Christian working women.
"As planning began for the breakfast, we prayed about and searched for just the right speakers that embody working women who live their faith in the marketplace," says Executive Director Renee Nail. "It became clear that Jackie Green and her daughter Lauren demonstrate living their faith publicly on an everyday basis."
Green and McAfee will share stories of the family business, Hobby Lobby, their new venture as founders of the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., and their latest project, a book they've co-written (with Bill High), "Only One Life: How a Woman's Every Day Shapes an Eternal Legacy."
By phone from company headquarters in Oklahoma, McAfee, 30, says the idea for the book came about as they hosted gatherings of women leaders they'd met around the country as they sought support for the Museum of the Bible.
"We were talking about where we were at in our lives and wanting to have an impact," she says of the gatherings. "The idea really started resonating as they were sharing with us their stories for what they were doing in their communities."
McAfee says they consulted with a writer and researcher to give them focus, "and then Mom and I worked on it together. We'd sit in a room and decide who we were wanting to write about and the character traits we wanted to illustrate."
Within its pages are "stories of women in the Bible, throughout history and women today who are leading with particular character qualities who have made a difference in the world," she says.
Women as diverse as Mary Magdalene, the first witness to Christ's resurrection; Catherine Booth, an early apologist for women's rights and co-founder of The Salvation Army; and Christine Caine, a contemporary speaker and human-rights activist. There are countless stories, McAfee says, of ordinary women who have done extraordinary things.
The central message of the book is how choices made today, even seemingly simple ones, shape the legacy an individual leaves for future generations, how the everyday matters more than anyone can imagine.
McAfee says that's evident in her family's walk in faith.
The roots of Hobby Lobby can be traced to 1970 when David and Barbara Green, McAfee's grandparents, took out a $600 loan to begin making miniature picture frames out of their home. Two years later, they opened a 300-square-foot store in Oklahoma City and named the new business Hobby Lobby. Today, with more than 800 stores in 47 states, it is the largest privately owned arts-and-crafts retailer in the world.
Bucking the trend of seven-day-a-week commercialism, and in keeping with the Greens' conservative Christian beliefs, Hobby Lobby is closed on Sundays. Company policy affirms the family's commitment to "honoring the Lord in all we do by operating the company in a manner consistent with biblical principles."
The Museum of the Bible seemed like a logical next step for the family, though initially "we really didn't know we were going to be as involved as we were," McAfee says. The $500 million, 430,000-square-foot facility opened in November 2017.
"It's really been amazing how God brought it all together," McAfee says. "Our family has been passionate about the Bible for generations. The Bible has always been a part of our focus so whenever the vision and opportunity for the Museum of the Bible came along, it made a lot of sense."
McAfee says she's especially fond of the Old Testament walk-through, a 45-minute experience where scenes tell the stories of Noah's ark, the burning bush, Passover and other narratives from the Hebrew Bible.
"It's incredibly engaging and really gives you a sense of what the Old Testament is about," she says.
A New Testament Theater continues the story of how the followers of Jesus grew into a thriving community.
McAfee, who's based in Oklahoma City, says she worked in her local Hobby Lobby store and in the corporate office growing up. Her primary work now is handling communications for the company.
Twice in the last few years, the company has been at the forefront of national news — most recently for questions surrounding the provenance of artifacts acquired for the museum.
Last summer, Hobby Lobby paid a $3 million settlement to the U.S. Justice Department for illegally importing Iraqi artifacts. The company also forfeited those artifacts.
In a statement at the time, company President Steve Green (McAfee's father), said, "We should have exercised more oversight and carefully questioned how the acquisitions were handled."
The other high-profile headlines concerned the company's 2014 Supreme Court case against Obamacare's contraceptive mandate. The closely divided court ruled that corporations with religious owners cannot be required to pay for insurance coverage of contraception.
The mandate called for employers to carry 20 FDA-approved contraceptives and abortion devices. Hobby Lobby was willing to cover 16 of those, McAfee says, but drew the line at four contraceptive drugs and abortifacient devices.
McAfee describes the two-year court case as a difficult journey for the family, but says they are "grateful for our faith and our Bible. What the Bible says gave us a lot of hope and encouragement."
Contact Lisa Denton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6281.