As I visited recently with Mary Rodgers and Mary Helwagen from Mentor, Ohio, they shared the passion of Pilgrim Lutheran Brethren Church (PLBC) for making disciples and encouraging women through Women’s Ministry to their Northeastern Ohio area.
Here’s what they had to say: We’ve found that although the women of PLBC are involved in many aspects of church life, there remains a hunger for deeper personal fellowship with Jesus and with other women. Bible Study groups help answer this need. On Thursday mornings, a Bible study that began thirty years ago with stay-at-home moms has continued as a great prayer support group throughout the years, though many are now much older. A Thursday evening group of mixed ages focuses primarily on Beth Moore studies. Ten years ago, two working ladies too tired for Thursday nights saw a need for a Saturday morning in-depth study (with homework). In addition, during the summer months when the other groups take a break, one of our returned “Snow Birds” teaches a weekly evening study for her neighbors, friends, and church members.
Utilizing different formats—lighter or more intense, come-as-you-are or homework-based studies—each group is growing closer to the Lord and to each other, gaining confidence in leading others and sharing their faith as they spend time learning and praying together. As we have become more tech savvy, some women who are traveling have even joined in via the internet.
Many also put feet to their faith serving the greater community individually or collectively through delivering meals, serving a homeless shelter, prison ministries, Alzheimer’s support, card ministries, and more. For additional fellowship, the groups might add an occasional potluck meal or a field trip.
Five years ago when a community Moms In Touch group disbanded, several women saw a need, so they started a monthly “A Mother’s Heart” group. They provide childcare, “Titus Two” women to facilitate table discussions, a gospel devotion, and a light supper.
Events great and small throughout the year provide a comfortable time to invite friends and neighbors:
- Late January multi-generational “Blahs Party” to combat post-holiday and NE Ohio seriously gray day “blahs” with a white elephant gift exchange.
- Spring mother-daughter-friends catered dinner with music and a devotional.
- Fall Saturday retreat with in-depth teaching, activities, a catered light meal, and often a missions project or make-and-take craft.
- Christmas Tea featuring great desserts and finger food (not being purists, coffee is allowed).
- Monthly book club from September to May, meeting over dinner at Panera.
- Serendipity Ladies’ Groups of four to five multi-generational women randomly matched, gathering over a meal or project in order to know each other better.
What’s the take-away? “There’s no formula for successful women’s ministry. Just look and see the need. Where is the gap? If you have a heart for something, plan it, pray over it, and try it. Encourage multi-generational involvement. Take ownership, but be flexible. Train others. Let God mold you and the ministry, and Keep Your Eyes Open!”
Cheryl Olsen is the Faith & Fellowship correspondent for WMCLB.