"There is such joy in the building when you are here," said Pastor Larry Baird of Trinity United Methodist Church as he addressed the 110 women who attended the 25th anniversary celebration of Women of the Word on Thursday, Dec. 13.
Trinity Church is hosting the interdenominational Christian group for a second year as the women from Grand Island and surrounding communities in Erie and Niagara counties engage in a weekly small group and lecture-formatted Bible study. The 2012-13 topic is the Old Testament Book of Genesis.
Women of the Word, nicknamed WOW, began on Grand Island in 1988 with lessons brought from California by Barbie Bird of Whitehaven Road Baptist Church. Together with 26 women from other Island churches, Bird approached the Grand Island Ministerium for permission to begin the group, opening it to women of all ages (and their pre-school children). The pastors told Bird that the interdenominational nature of the group would prove to be a problem, but to go ahead and try.
The group launched in the fall of that year, with lessons written by Lois Lindley, founder of Workmen of the Word in California. Other WOW groups have functioned across the country and internationally, but the Grand Island version is the only one with members having diverse Christian church affiliations. All groups have the common goals of using the Bible alone as their final theological authority, of increasing Bible literacy and of nurturing a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Honored at the anniversary celebration was Beryl Kinney, who has functioned as one of the teaching leaders at WOW since its inception. After watching a commemorative video tribute, Kinney commented that WOW's success must come completely from God, especially in light of the fact that people said the concept would never work. She elaborated with a verse from the Old Testament book of Proverbs: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path."
Women of the Word is on Christmas break right now, but will resume small group and lecture time on Thursday, Jan. 3, at 9:30 a.m. Women are encouraged to join at any time during the WOW year. No previous Bible experience is necessary. For a nominal fee, care for infants and a pre-school program for 3-to-5-year-olds are available to moms and grandmothers who attend.
For more information, email [email protected], or contact Patty Cancilla at 716-773-9109 or Kathy Duff at 716-773-2684.