Providing women opportunities to connect and serve
It all started with a women’s Bible study.
After a few years of meeting weekly to grow in their faith and knowledge of their Savior, the women at Cross of Life, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, wanted to do more.
“It was a natural progression for me personally,” says Marguerite Rouleau. “You just can’t spend that time with women and not grow to love them.”
Rouleau cherishes that connection with her church family because she knows what it’s like to be without it. Growing up Catholic, she says her experience with church was attending worship on Sunday—and that was it. She later joined a WELS church in Mississauga, but it closed. “I was left without a church,” she says. “For me it wasn’t an option to change churches, so for nine months I had no idea what to do.” When a new WELS church started in Markham, an hour and a half away, she attended as often as she could, but it was difficult with her small children. So when Cross of Life opened 18 years ago, it was an answer to Rouleau’s prayers.
“Now I have the opportunity to get involved and to be more connected,” says Rouleau. “[Being involved in women’s ministry] was just another chance to be around these women and to be encouraged by them as well as to get things done for the church.”
Cross of Life’s four-member women’s ministry group coordinates two large events a year, plus a weekly Bible study and multiple fellowship gatherings. All of these opportunities strengthen the connection between the women and with their Lord.
Cross of Life is not only looking to strengthen the faith of its own members; it also wants to reach out into its community. Perhaps that’s why the women’s ministry’s biggest offering is its annual Advent By Candlelight, an event filled with God’s Word and songs in a beautiful setting to help women focus on Christ during the busy holiday season. While the women’s ministry coordinates the event, it is “all hands on deck” for this 115-member congregation to make it happen, according to Rouleau. “Probably every woman that goes to our church gets involved in some way. We get a lot of support and help from the men too!” she says.
This past year, Cross of Life posted an open invitation to the event on its Facebook page. More than one hundred people attended—many of them nonmembers from the community.
“I just can’t believe how blessed we are,” says Rouleau.
The blessings of an active women’s ministry are also something that Matt Brown can see for his 600-member congregation, Abiding Word, Houston, Texas. SHINE (Serving Him IN Everything) has women involved in everything from spiritual growth to outreach to member assimilation to fellowship activities. “We have SHINE members come to our Bible information class and meet our new members and talk to them about different ways to serve,” says Brown. “What a key role they play to involve people in ministry in congregation.”
With such an active women’s ministry, Brown says the congregation now is restructuring so it can better connect SHINE with the overall ministry in the congregation, especially where there is overlap. “I think it’s key when a congregation can—in a coordinated, intentional way—have men and women working together in the different roles that God has given to us.”
He continues, “There are so many ways that you can use women in the congregation. It’s just an important conversation for congregations to have.
Donn Dobberstein, director for the WELS Commission on Discipleship, agrees. “Women are so compelled by the gospel and the love of their Savior and they want to be of greater service to their Lord within their congregation. What does that look like? I would like to encourage that conversation to be had in every congregation.”
WELS Women’s Ministry Committee, part of the Commission on Discipleship, exists to assist congregations in nurturing, encouraging, and equipping women to faithfully and fully use their God-given gifts to glorify God. Materials and resources ranging from Bible studies to planning documents to ministry ideas for congregations and for women can be found at wels.net/women.
With Christmas fast approaching, one way a congregation can minister to women—both members and nonmembers—is through an Advent by Candlelight program. Through narration, readings, prayer, and music, women can spend time during the busy holiday season remembering what Christmas is really all about—Jesus. “One of the goals of the C18 program is to help WELS members become more comfortable with invitational evangelism,” says Jon Hein, coordinator of WELS Congregational Services. “Our hope is women will invite their unchurched friends to Advent by Candlelight and then invite those friends to come back for Christmas Eve.” A new Advent by Candlelight program that focuses on lessons learned from Lydia connects with the new WELS outreach movie, To the Ends of the Earth. WELS Women Ministry also provides planning documents and other Advent By Candlelight programs to get a congregation started. Learn more at wels.net/women.
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Volume 105, Number 10
Issue: October 2018
Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2018
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