By the time she was 8, Sherry Moore knew that she wanted to be a nurse, and she geared her life toward achieving her calling.

Her second calling as a meeting planner came almost accidentally, but she applies that same early determination to learning new skills. RCMA is a major way this nurse has become a full-time volunteer meeting planner for the Union of Messianic Jews.

“RCMA was the first eye-opener for what it [meeting planning] was all about,” Moore says. Living 15 minutes from Washington, D.C., in Lorton, Va., she is able to take part in other meeting-planning events, including classes for convention and visitors bureaus and the hospitality industry. She also thoroughly reads periodicals and files articles to refer to later.

But RCMA taught her the fundamentals of meeting planning, she says.

A Husband's Gift

The Union of Messianic Jews, based in Albuquerque, N.M., includes about 100 congregations. Messianic Jews believe in Yeshua (or Jesus) as the Messiah. Raised Episcopalian, Moore and her husband, Scott, a Unitarian by tradition, were drawn to the Messianic Jewish movement 22 years ago. Twelve years ago, Scott became a leader, or pastor.

The Union's annual conference draws as many as 1,200 people when it meets on the East Coast and about 700 when it gathers on the West Coast. The member congregations meet in cities with host congregations, all over the United States.

Before Moore took over the planning, a congregation would host the event, “each year reinventing the wheel,” she says. Several years ago, a couple took over, and eight years ago, when the event was to be held in Washington, they asked Scott Moore to help. He volunteered his wife.

Moore and another woman organized that event, and Moore was excited about the role. Her partner is backing down from the job now, but Moore is expanding her role. “I did it because I love doing it and love to serve,” she says.

She counts on others' help, including congregation volunteers in host cities; a lawyer in her congregation who reviews contracts; and the executive director of the organization, who is a great proofreader, she says.

The annual event takes place Sunday to Sunday at large hotels. The first days are made up of executive and delegate meetings, with the rest of the week for classes and services. It's a family convention, so there are events for all ages. Afternoons are left free for families to explore the host city. “We promote the city we're in,” Moore says. Every five years, the group visits Israel. Two years ago, 300 people went, despite fears of terrorism. “It was expensive, too,” she says. “But at the time, nobody was going to Israel. We were received so warmly.”

Details Are Everything

Because the Messianic Jewish movement has members of varied backgrounds, Moore's job is complicated. Some members are “very orthodox; others are more reformed,” she explains. Some worship on Friday night, and some on Saturday mornings, so she plans services for both. Exhibit tables are shut down from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday, and meals tend to be orthodox. “It makes it a little tricky,” Moore says, but she has found the hotels wonderful to work with.

She came to understand hotels better through RCMA's classes on negotiations and contracts. “I was clueless. It was really good learning how to negotiate a contract. I realized that the hotel and I are a partnership. We want a great event, and they need to make money.”

It was a hotel's convention services manager who told her about RCMA. She became a member about six years ago. “I appreciate RCMA's values,” Moore said. “It has a wholesomeness about it. I appreciate that about RCMA, that there are others who think like I think and whose values I hold.”

Being a member of RCMA is “very important. I came in totally green and learned so much,” she says.

Although she has retired from her first calling, Moore sees the overlap in skills between being a nurse and a meeting planner: caring, organizing, and being detail-oriented. “I'm a real people person. I like to serve. I feel like me planning these meetings is a service. I get to meet new people all the time. In the end, I end up feeling like they're my friends.”