The San Jose Civic Auditorium on Saturday became a sacred space filled with prayer, praises, hope and healing for a thousand women.

But the Women of Faith convention wasn’t your grandmother’s church service with docile ladies in bifocals, dentures and crocheted sweaters.

Imagine, instead, a Sisterhood of the Traveling Chants. A modern-day tent revival meeting, the inspirational event featured prayers and Scripture, but also a high-tech light show, pop music, comedy, a marketing campaign and — most importantly — solidarity.

Speakers spoke candidly about facing life’s challenges — illnesses, disappointments, depression, shame and loss. And they promised God’s enduring acceptance and power to make things better.

Pianist Scott MacIntyre, a former “American Idol” finalist, also shared a tale, recounting how he almost died from kidney disease — and the gift of a donated organ.

“I know you’ve been through so many struggles, so many trials and it feels hopeless at times. Jesus is our hope,” he said to a burst of applause and flurry of amens. “And he’s good, all the time.”

The Women of Faith ministry attracts women of different Christian faiths. The unifying theme: belief in Jesus and the Bible.

San Jose is one of 40 cities nationwide that will host such an event this year.

The 16-year-old Women of Faith Inc., a division of the Nashville-based Christian publishing company Thomas Nelson Publishers, says that 4.5 million women have attended its events. About 388,000 women have newly dedicated themselves to faith after attending — an estimate based on a survey collected in pink boxes at each gathering.

Merchandise was popular at Saturday’s event, which cost $59 to attend. In addition to books and DVDs, there was a $10 mug, $15 necklace and $25 T-shirt with the Women of Faith theme.

A major sponsor of World Vision, Women of Faith says that 175,000 poor children have been helped through financial gifts by its members. It is also a strong proponent of Donate Life America, which registers volunteers to be organ, tissue and eye donors.

– by Lisa M. Krieger