I had no idea how many talented women were in our little congregation, or the multiple gifts they had. That was before Moravian Women’s Sunday at Fry’s Valley Moravian Church in New Philadelphia, Ohio, where the women talked about the gifts they use in worship and in the community.
During this special service, Connie Kinsey, a member of the church board, led (and encouraged) a group of women to share about their many diverse talents to the congregation. The women’s roles included a first responder, community center service leader, homeless mat-maker, scarf project volunteer, church cleaner and hospitality leader during the church’s fellowship time. We also discovered that the one thing all the women shared was their love of food!
Through sharing, we learned that several women quietly help in the community when they hear a need. One woman discussed her work as children’s book author and another who encouraged local children to get involved in Sunday School. One member shared beautiful pictures of sunrises and sunsets and told stories of the sometimes-humorous ways her family gather on the farm where she lives.
What struck me about these women and their stories was the fact that, even though I have been surrounded by them for the last 40 years or so, some of these shared gifts of service were unknown to me. I was also amazed at their willingness to be open to sharing what they were doing. I believe that the sharing was to inspire others, not for any personal glory.
Our scripture for the day was Matthew 5, verse 6; “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in Heaven.” These women succeeded on following this instruction from our Savior, true examples of discipleship and evangelism.
Their work was also reflected in our hymns for that service—from the 1995 Moravian Book of Worship, “Take My Life, O Lord Renew” and from the Favorite Hymns of Faith, “Have Thine Own Way, Lord.”
It was amazing to feel the passion, commitment and selflessness of the women that shared. The sighs of relief from those who stepped outside their comfort zone and spoke in front of the group were heard, but the excitement and recommitment of these women’s efforts were renewed and supported. After worship, while enjoying delicious cookies and coffee, many of the missions and ministries of these women were discussed.
Following the service, the members of Fry’s Valley have a greater awareness of the good work around them – and are getting more involved. Once we became aware of all of the outreach projects, some of us stepped forward with collecting our plastic bags to make plarn, while others donated material to our scarf-maker, Ruby (or created scarfs and hats themselves!) Some now offer exercise programs at the community center.
I feel like we are more apt to be aware of what other women are doing, encouraging them and helping out if they express a need. And it all rose out of a single service at Fry’s Valley!
Michele Richey is a member of Fry’s Valley Moravian Church in New Philadelphia, Ohio