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Bible study helps women become 'sisters'

12/11/2003 News media contact: Kathy Gilbert · (615) 742-5470 · Nashville, Tenn.

A UMNS Feature By Kathy L. Gilbert*

LINK: Click to open full size version of image
Faye Lions, Marj Pon, Rebecca Laird, Amanda Bachus, and Julie Glass (left to right) talk during a taping of "Unfailing Love: Growing Closer to Jesus Christ," the second in a series of Bible studies produced by the United Methodist Publishing House and United Methodist Communications. "Sisters Bible Study for Women" is a six-week Bible series written especially for women. The first in the series, "Knowing God: Making God the Main Thing in My Life" by Kimberly Dunnam Reisman, was published in August. More than 5,000 women participated in the first study. UMNS photo by Ronny Perry, Photo number 03-515, Accompanies UMNS #586, 12/11/03
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Sitting in a comfortable living room sipping coffee, five women are talking about a pregnant 13-year-old girl.

It isn't someone they know; it's someone about whom they have read.

The living room is a television production stage. The 13-year-old girl they are discussing is Mary, the mother of Jesus.

Amanda Bachus, Julie Glass, Faye Lions, Marj Pon and Rebecca Laird are being taped for a "Sisters Bible Study for Women."

"Being so young and pregnant by the Holy Spirit, that is really beyond my comprehension," Bachus says. "That is why I am here in this Bible study - I want some answers."

Unfailing Love: Growing Closer to Jesus Christ, written by Laird, is the second in a series of Bible studies being produced by the United Methodist Publishing House and United Methodist Communications. It will be available in March.

The six-week Bible series is written especially for women. Research conducted by the Publishing House pointed toward a need for such a study, says Mary Catherine Dean, an executive with the Nashville-based agency.

The first in the series, Knowing God: Making God the Main Thing in My Life by Kimberly Dunnam Reisman, was published in August. More than 5,000 women participated in the first study, Dean says.

"It is wonderful to hear the authors and be in the presence of strong, thoughtful women who are so willing to be open about their faith journey," says Leslie Alexander, an executive with United Methodist Communications. "This is a really high-quality product, and I hope many women will use it."

"Sisters" invites women to delve into the Bible, but it also offers them an opportunity to form deeper relationships with other women, says Lions, one of the four "sisters" in the group led by Laird.

"Part of what I have enjoyed most is getting to know the authors and working with them," Lions says. She says an added bonus was gaining three new "sisters," all of whom work for the communications agency or the Publishing House.

"It is great relating to them and realizing for once in my life there are others that share some of the same joys and concerns that I do."

"Relationships are really important to women," says Cynthia Gadsden, print editor for the series.

In doing research for the project, Gadsden found that most material on the market was lecture based and didn't highlight the relational aspect that the "Sisters" series does.

"The leader is right there leading a one-on-one discussion with the sisters," she says. "We wanted to have recognized leaders, but we also wanted leaders with whom women could relate and interact."

"The closeness that we experienced in this relatively short span of time was amazing," says Marsha Murphy, a member of Connell Memorial United Methodist Church in Goodlettsville, Tenn., who recently participated in the first "Sisters Bible Study" at her church. "We shared openly and supported each other and continue to do so."

Murphy says the diversity of the women on the tape adds value to the program and makes it seem more like "real life."

Reisman, author of the first study, is associate pastor of Trinity United Methodist Church in Lafayette, Ind. She is also author of The Christ-Centered Woman.

Laird is author of Leslie Weatherhead's The Will of God: A Workbook. She is a licensed minister in the Church of the Nazarene and is serving a Presbyterian church. She lives with her husband and two daughters in Madison, N.J.

"Sisters," Dean says, is an "open-ended series, meaning it could go on and on, depending on the market."

"It is good to have these Bible sessions; they are needed," Bachus says. "The fact that we call ourselves 'sisters' helps. Going through the Bible from a woman's perspective is very interesting."

For more information on the series, go to

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*Gilbert is a news writer for United Methodist News Service, a unit of United Methodist Communications.

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