Phil Waldrep Ministries relocated one of its Women of Joy conferences to the LeConte Center at Pigeon Forge in 2014 to accommodate growth, and that proved to be a good move.
The 2015 Women of Joy conference is 50 percent bigger than last year. The ministry expects about 9,000 people for the April 24-26, 2015 event, compared to 6,110 last year.
“Our people love Pigeon Forge,” said Phil Waldrep, founder of Phil Waldrep Ministries in Decatur, Ala.
“Pigeon Forge expresses what everyone wants his hometown to be. Our attendees feel like they are going home. They’re treated like family. It’s like a homecoming,” he continued.
Waldrep described Women of Joy conferences as an interdenominational ministry that enhances and energizes the spiritual lives of Christian women. Their programs feature major speakers and top-of-the-charts contemporary Christian music performers.
The upcoming event will include inspirational comedian Anita Renfroe, worship leader Charles Billingsley and recording artist Mandisa.
The Women of Joy event is booked at the LeConte Event Center every April through 2018 and is one of four Waldrep events in Pigeon Forge each year.
There is a smaller Women of Joy event for about 1,200 attendees every March at the Smoky Mountain Convention Center and two events for seniors every fall.
“The bigger Women of Joy event started in Pigeon Forge in 1998 and outgrew every facility in town. We moved to Gatlinburg, then to Sevierville and had a homecoming to Pigeon Forge when the LeConte Event Center opened,” Waldrep said.
Waldrep said Pigeon Forge’s location, the appeal of the Great Smoky Mountains and the variety of restaurants and activities compound the appeal of the LeConte Event Center.
“The LeConte Center staff reflects the values of the city. They’re a great bunch,” Waldrep said.