Tell us about the Women’s Fellowship and why it’s important to the life of our congregation at Metro.
The Women’s Fellowship started after Metro was around for a little more than two-years, and it stemmed from Metro’s focus on building fellowship and community. During the first two years, I had the opportunity to really get to know the women of the church and hear about their sufferings, needs, and desires. There were common themes of struggles like loneliness, questions of how to live out their roles in life such as a mother, a wife, a friend, or as a sister, as well as other needs, such as uncertainty about direction in life. At the two-year mark, a lot of the women of the church were really desiring to build deeper, more meaningful relationships with each other yet did not know how or have the opportunities, especially with others who were in different stages of life or community groups.
I began to have an increasing burden for the women and a desire to grow in our relationships with God through digging into His Word together. In the Women’s Fellowship, we get to see God and hear Jesus’ voice, both individually and as a group. The Women’s Fellowship is a time to grow in our personal relationship with God as we learn about Him through His Word while we can enjoy our journeys together as a body. There are many reasons that can bring groups of people together. Growth in God’s Word is central to the reason for the Women’s Fellowship to gather. My prayer for all of us is that the “word of Christ would dwell in you richly” (Col 3:16). Just as the Word brings joy and life to soul—those who are transformed by it will bring joy and life to the church and world around them.
So what have you been most excited about as you’ve been leading this group and helping bring about this Women’s Fellowship?
There are many exciting things that happen during Women’s Fellowship! One of the things that is exciting is witnessing the Word come alive and bring joy to the women. We are a mixed group of college students, young adults, married women, and moms and the Word pierces right down to the center of our hearts, regardless of our stage of life or circumstances. After our times of study, I have had great conversations with people as different lessons or verses from Ruth (the book we are studying) have challenged them through the weeks. For others, they have been more regularly in their own personal study in the Word as the Women Fellowship studies have wet their appetites to learn more.
Another exciting thing has been to see the start of new relationships. After the time of study, we divide into smaller discussion groups for a time of sharing and prayer. It’s encouraging to see unexpected relationships forging as women pair up with others that they don’t know. Many times now, I’ve overheard women looking specifically for others who they haven’t paired up with before just for the chance to get to know someone new. Relationships that would not easily occur in any other context (like friendships between women almost 20 years apart!) are developing. That is exciting!
Is there anything that has surprised you, either being a part of the Women’s Fellowship or as a leader?
I think the greatest surprise has been the joy shared by the group of women helping to lead each session. Each gathering has had a different person leading the rest of the group in a study of Ruth, highlighting the Gospel from the text, and sharing a personal testimony of how the Spirit challenged them through the scriptures. The leaders for the study of Ruth have been Barbara Dan, Benica Kim, Charlotte Chong, Alina Varghese, and myself. When I first approached the women to lead the studies—in some there was hesitation, reservation, and fear. It’s intimidating to speak in front of people as well as leading a study of the Word together. A great surprise has been hearing about how encouraging that study was for them, how the Spirit was speaking to them through their meditation on the passage, how their love for Jesus has grown, and even how much they enjoyed leading the study. In the future, I hope to have more women taking part in leading different sessions and experiencing these thrills!
How about for yourself? How has God been advancing the Gospel through your own weakness or struggles?
I struggle with walking with people consistently and over the test of time. Studying the book of Ruth has moved me by the way God has worked through the lives of Ruth, Naomi, and Boaz and their demonstration of hesed love—which is a one direction, committed love regardless of what the other person does or does not do. Their unselfishness, sacrifice, and thoughtfulness of the other person, even at the expense of their own well-being, security, or reputation, is a direct pointer to Jesus’s life and work on the cross on our behalf. This has challenged the way that I love and care for people in my life. The Gospel moves me to commit and care for others, above my own desires for comfort, rest, or other selfish desires. Gospel love moves me to demonstrate hesed love and carry the burdens and pain of others—not just in the short term but over the long haul. As I have been encouraged and humbled by the gift and grace of God’s love for me, I am moved to pour out to others in the same way—first in my love for the women at Metro and then outward to others outside of our church and in need, as the needs would be revealed.
So what are your hopes for the direction where the Women’s Fellowship can go?
One direction that I hope the Women’s Fellowship will grow is in the participation of meeting different needs both within the church and beyond. There are so many needs within the church, people that are hurting, and opportunities for mercy ministries that women, as we are moved and filled by the love of Christ, can pour into and serve. I also hope that a love to serve and care for others will also extend beyond the walls of Metro as well into our local community of Manayunk or the city of Philadelphia at large.
During our gatherings, I would love to expand what we experience together such as having a women’s retreat, hearing from guest speakers, or even going to outside conferences to learn from people both from Metro and outside. There are so many ways that we can grow and experience together, as we have only just started!
You touched on this before. Being community-dependent is one of our core values at Metro. Can you be more specific in describing how the Women’s Fellowship has cultivated and demonstrated this value further?
In the Women’s Fellowship, we experience many dimensions of community-dependence. The first way is in seeing the different dimensions of God in one another. Since we are all created in His image, everyone reflects different aspects of God. The beauty of our community is in seeing different dimensions of God that we wouldn’t see alone or if we just surrounded ourselves with people who we are similar. We are dependent on each other to see aspects of God that we would never see or know otherwise. Another way we are dependent on one another is for accountability. When left alone, we do not see the depths of our sinfulness as we see displayed through our relationships with others or when others confront us of our sins. We are dependent on each other to see our sins or to hear the truth about ourselves as we are often blind to our own sinfulness. In our struggles, we are dependent on each other to carry one another’s burdens—to comfort, encourage, and counsel each other through the journey. As we grow in greater dependence on one another, blessings are sweeter when shared with each other and sufferings are not as painful as when endured alone.
How has the Gospel been shaping your understanding and experience of fellowship in general and with the women of Metro in particular?
The Gospel convicts me of the importance of fellowship, as we are made in the image of a triune God. Despite my natural tendency to want to isolate myself, I was made to be in community with others. The Trinity demonstrates a beauty in submission, love, and joy with one another. We were all made to reflect that same image with each other. My appreciation for community has grown increasingly, in particular over the last year. During my toughest times after my miscarriage, it was community, particularly at Metro that helped me through it. From that experience, I have come to value the importance of walking the distance with people, especially through tragedies as suffering can continue even long after the initial event. I trust that it in God’s perfect plan, He brought each and every women intentionally to Metro. I am grateful for any opportunity to see or even be a part of His plan for them and want to be faithful to His provision of a relationship with them.