A new circle
A few months ago, a new WELCA circle popped up on St. Paul’s congregational calendar. WELCA stands for Women of the ELCA. It’s a national organization devoted to service, study, advocacy, and fellowship. Many churches, including St. Paul, have small groups, or circles, that meet together monthly – usually named after a woman in the Bible.
This particular circle meet at Ridgecrest, one of the retirement villages where many St. Paul members live. On a recent sunny afternoon, women came to a conference room at Ridgecrest one by one. A crew of seven that day, they were guided by Karen Miller.
The focus was on women who inspire.
They talked about Katie Luther, wife of Martin Luther, and women who are familiar to Christians, such as Mary Magdalene. The reading of a couple of children’s books from the St. Paul Library refreshed memories – one of them was the book, Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters.
“Have I told you lately how wonderful you are? How the sound of your feet running from afar brings dancing rhythms to my day? How you laugh and sunshine spills into the room?”
The book goes on to talk about how creative, smart, and brave they are, giving examples of people from history to illustrate the point.
“Have I told you that you are creative? A woman named Georgia O’Keefe moved to the desert and painted petals, bones, bark. She helped us see big beauty in what is small: the hardness of stone and the softness of feather.”
The conversation then turned to the women that the women in that room admired. They talked of the women scientists from NASA, featured in the recent movie Hidden Figures, for example. And they talked of their own experiences, too. One woman, a retired pediatrician, shared about her time in Japan during World War II.
“I didn’t know that story!” a friend responded, “and I’ve known her a long time!”
Church can take many, many forms. On this particular day, church was in a conference room at Ridgecrest, where seven women shared a little bit about their lives, their faith, their troubles, and their joys.