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SisterFriends leave viewers with something strong to sip on
Teresa Cooper and Katherine Young wanted to create a space where women–sisters and friends–would gain strength and transform relationships by sharing their surface and deep pains on a talk show.
Teresa Cooper and Katherine Young wanted to create a space where women–sisters and friends–would gain strength and transform relationships by sharing their surface and deep pains.
“You can be sisters by association or birth and still not be friends. And you can have friends who become sisters… We wanted to create a space where women can be SisterFriends for real,” Cooper said.
To create that space, the Christian leaders went into the studio and on to Facebook and YouTube with the intention to have candid conversations centered around faith that would build up any viewer—especially women. In 2019, they created SisterFriends Cups and Conversations, a weekly talk show featuring four hosts seated around a wooden dining table. Two seats are reserved for them as hosts and two for guests. They sit in front of a white bookshelf accented with colorful decor and flowers. The brightness of the room matches the women’s laughter and chatter, even when the topics are heavy and dark. And, they discuss any and every aspect of life.
“The show is centered around conversations with sister-friends of different ages, races, and statuses who discuss various topics from a faith-based perspective. The cup is the extra flavor and personal connection within the conversations on this web-based show,” said Cooper.
The 30- to 40-minute show, which has had 65 episodes, is designed to show viewers that they are not alone, Young said. Within months of starting the show, Cooper and Young began shifting for a broader audience because of the coronavirus pandemic and the growing number of people going to social media to find “good shows.”
And, Cooper said, SisterFriends makes it easy to have to dig so hard for the good stuff Cooper said. They said they are showing viewers how God is not only concerned about their lives, but he is involved in all details. They said the show does this by having candid discussions on difficult topics like suicide, ghosting friends, plastic surgery, loss of a child, friendship betrayal, post-traumatic stress disorder, raising gifted children, incarceration, and other “in the closet” conversations with invited guests.
They also take these discussions up on the show’s monthly blog.
“We didn’t want the show to be salacious or full of drama. We wanted people to feel empowered that God cares about what we care about,” said Cooper. Together, the hosts—who have been friends for 20 years—prayed and consecrated to design a space to listen to what women are concerned about and the right timing to discuss those topics.
“SisterFriends is for them to know that God sees them and we are here.. We don’t have to hide. We can have candid conversations and in the end, we all have something strong to sip on,” Young said. “It’s no judgment.”
Both Cooper and Young lead women’s ministries and are Christian authors in Shreveport, Louisiana. They said they love cups and conversations with friends, so is the show an off-shoot of their Christian ministry? Yes and no. With the show being produced in the studio at New Creations Family Church on 8410 Kingston Road, it is easy to directly connect it to church ministry, but the women said the intention of the show does not center around building the church’s membership.
“People need inspiration and a media culture that leaves information, clarity, and realness in the atmosphere. As a Christian, I feel a call to provide hope, care, and love presented in a platform that leaves you hopeful at the end,” said Cooper.
“It is a positive reinforcement for the vision in the guests’ and viewers’ lives,” said Cooper. Through monthly blog posts, they are able to expand especially during the stressful time of the now, two-year coronavirus pandemic. “We are always lifting and adding female voices to the conversation especially those who haven’t been discovered yet or haven’t discovered their potential.”
The women said they are qualified —if you will— to discuss these topics because they “are all these women” said Young. “Rejection, grief, teen pregnancy. We have lived through them. We are relatable in all these areas. We have kindred spirit and compassion.”
Cooper agreed. “It’s led us to where we are now. This (show) is another extension that speaks to how God will take the pains of our lives and allow them to be the mission of our lives.”
We are intentional, they said. With each episode, the cup matches the topic, guests, or enthusiasm. Then, the conversations begin. Although the women have no formal training in broadcast journalism or production, SisterFriends runs smoothly between hosts and guests akin to shows like The View and Red Table Talk.
Women between the ages of 30 and 55 are the core demographics who watch the show, but Cooper said the 40-year-old women are finding the show most relatable. “They are holding us down,” she said.
One goal of the show is for viewers to broaden conversations and make them not have “to dig so hard for the good stuff,” Cooper said. By “good stuff, they mean good conversations, healthy friendships, and life solutions. The hosts have been married for more than two decades and said they often have to seek God’s love and presence beyond the church walls. SisterFriends Cups and Conversations is the result of their seeking and growing relationships with other women in their life’s pursuit.
The show begins with a cheerful theme song developed by Cooper and Dwayne Taylor and sung by Phonecia Richards. The women introduce themselves and share the cup—usually a mug—and its connection to that episode.
During an episode on colorism where the women shared emotional ties and pride in heritage. Young—who is Creole– presented her favorite cup. It has a crawfish printed on it. “I use this cup every day since then because it is a reminder of the creativity of God.”
On a more recent episode on BurnOut!, Cooper presented a mint green cup with “Nah” imprinted. “Not today Satan. I thought this cup was befitting because the guests—Beryl Cowthran and Barbara Lewis—discussed spiritual, professional, and emotional burnout.
Cooper and Young select guests who have had experiences that reach beyond their own. “Do you have the life experiences or close association? We have the Jesus part covered,” said Cooper.
For example, one guest was concerned that she would not contribute to the show because she was not a Christian and because she may inadvertently curse. “Well, she came and did an amazing job and did not curse once,” said Young. “What we learned from that episode is that we are doing exactly what we intended to do and that is to have a safe place for women that did not feel like church but felt like the love of God.”
After another show, one guest thanked Cooper for allowing them to speak on suicide and not feel judged. Although the guest said she was not a Believer, she felt God’s comfort at the time of the suicide of a family member. The guest said her experience on the show “renewed her hope in humanity,” Young said. “We felt blessed that she was able to come on our show and tell people how God was still concerned about her even though she had no belief.”
“It also showed us how this show was reaching the people we truly wanted to impact without judgment or ridicule,” said Cooper who is also co-founder of New Creations Family Church. She and her husband moved to Shreveport 28-years ago and began the ministry. She is a published author and works as the church’s administrative pastor while Young works at a planned parenting center. They have authored four books among them and are looking to expand the show to podcasts and in-person, touring shows where they will meet with other women.
“The joy is in the journey, not the designation,” said Cooper. “Our time is so valuable. It is liquid gold. This is a conduit for God to use us.”
They invite others to “sit, sip, stay awhile,” Cooper said. “That’s what SisterFriends do. They sit. They sip. They stay awhile to help change the world. They share stories that empower one another.”
A new show airs every Wednesday at www.sisterfriendscupsandconvo.com, on Facebook @SisterFriendscupsandconvo and on YouTube. Show executive directors Lucretia Church and Dwayne Taylor. Camera: Dwayne Taylor, Crystal McElvane, Brittany Patterson, graphics Dwayne Taylor and Shaun Cooper. Producers: Teresa Cooper and Dwayne Taylor. Presented by Women of Stature. Sponsorships are available and start at $50 an episode.
By Candace J. Semien
Jozef Syndicate reporter
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