I went to my first St. Luke’s Young Women’s Bible Study group just a month after I had moved to Chicago, not knowing many people in the city. I saw a notice in the Sunday Bulletin about a dinner at someone’s house in my neighborhood, and thought it would be a great way to meet new people, explore a new community, and maybe make some friends along the way.
Over the past three years, going to each other’s houses twice a month to share food, wine, and conversation has created a very tight knit and unique community for me. While our conversations focus on Scripture and Pastor Erik’s sermons, they also create opportunities to share stories from our own lives, expressing doubt, loss, hope, and joy. We open each discussion by each sharing moments in the past week that have been exciting and those that have been frustrating. Creating this safe space to share personal successes and losses has been a huge comfort for me in tough times of transition, and I am so grateful for the words of wisdom and support from these women.
Being a part of this type of safe space is unique, and I am so fortunate to have a community that listens to me and allows me time to grow and learn. Sharing personal experiences and exploring our faith through these conversations has allowed me to grow and deepen my spiritual relationship and commitment to the church community.
The friendships that have grown from this group are rooted in a unique sense of understanding and connection. We can celebrate the joys in each other’s lives with wedding and baby showers, and support each other through tough career and life transitions. Welcoming women from different ages and experiences allows us to create a rich community ready to share advice and help each other out.
I have found that exploring faith through dialogue and questions allows for a deeply personal experience of God and Scripture. Oftentimes through our discussions and interpretations, I am able to explore different perspectives of Sunday’s sermon and come away with a more nuanced understanding of the text and theme. I love hearing people’s insights and personal anecdotes when it comes to exploring the text, and am so grateful for the opportunity to explore difficult passages and messages with each other.
While the discussions and opportunities for growing my faith are elemental to my time in this group, above all it is the strong community and friendships that stand out to me. Everyone has different ways they like to connect with religion and a church community. For me it is through relationships. I deeply value the friendships I have found in this group, the strength and hopes of these women, and the safe space we can always come to when sharing joys or concerns. It has been a cornerstone of my St. Luke’s experience, and I am looking forward to many more evenings of wine and conversation.