At the very end of 2013, Tim and I decided to move on from the church we had been attending. In fact, we were fully signed-up members. We had met through the church, and got married there. Ben had been dedicated into that community. It wasn’t a decision we took lightly.
However, once we had made the decision, we did put it into action swiftly. We knew that we did want to start attending another church in Manchester, and we were aware that it may be a temporary thing. We were planning to try to move further North this Summer.
Now it is Summer, and the move is hopefully going ahead, although dates and times are still unknown. So again, we’re starting to think about attending, and perhaps officially joining, another church. This, as you may imagine, is easier said than done. We like familiarity, and it takes time to build relationships. In my experience, you don’t really feel part of a church until you feel that you are part of the community. That takes both time and effort. I firmly believe that what you put in, you will get out in these instances.
One ministry where I have been able to get a bit involved in our current church is with the Women’s Bible Study on a Thursday morning. This academic year, I’ve been lucky enough to be able to work part-time, and Thursday is one of my days off. This has meant I could attend the Women’s Bible Study.
As a busy mum, it’s really hard to find time just to study the Bible. If you attend an evening Bible study, you tend to have to alternate with your husband so that someone is at home with the child. Then, when you do get there, you’re so exhausted you can barely focus. To be honest, most evenings this year, I have been planning or marking, so an evening Bible study wouldn’t suit me at all. During the day, even on my days off, I find I’m either cramming so much in or can’t take my eyes off Ben, that I get few chances for a quiet time alone.
The Women’s Bible Study, which meets on a Thursday morning, has a creche provided. Not only that, you pay a donation. The church employs a member of staff to run the creche weekly, with a rota of volunteers. I felt so much better about leaving Ben with the creche for an hour, knowing I had contributed financially to the sustainability of this.
So, with Ben looked after, and hopefully enough functioning brain cells to engage with the Bible at 10am, I sit down with my small group of ladies, one of 3 groups that all run at the same time. I have to say, I really appreciate all-women Bible study. I think I actually appreciate them more now I’m a mum, and hearing wisdom from other women who have been there, 1, 5, 10 or 45 years ago has been brilliant.
We’re a very mixed group – several mums on maternity leave, several who stay at home with small children. Some women who work part time, whose children have grown up, or who are at school. Some women who don’t have husbands or children but seem to have the most exotic and exciting holidays. Women from all four corners of the globe. Some women who have been attending for years, and some who only attend for a few months (like me). But I’m sure that every single woman who attends feels blessed to have been a part of it.
I haven’t been to many churches, and I haven’t come across something like this before, although I’m sure it’s not unique. I certainly hope it isn’t unique. But I’m incredibly grateful, both to God and to the ladies who run the Women’s Bible Study, that I’ve had the chance to be a part of it this year.