"An insight into how being distinctly Christian colours our branch life." By one of our members: Jackie Heaton.
As you will see elsewhere in this website, Women in Fellowship is an organisation for Christian women. This short article will hopefully give you a little insight into how being distinctly Christian colours our branch life.
You can read else where about our national events, almost all of which include a Church service. There is also an annual retreat and a pilgrimage, usually every other year, which you can read about else where.
Women in Fellowship has three distinct aims, spiritual, intellectual and social, and the wonderful thing about the fellowship is that the branches try hard to include all three aims into their programmes. Every branch is different, but all will aim to provide support for it’s members in all these areas. The branches are geographical, and not attached to any particular Church. Inevitably some branches will have quite a few members who all go to the same Church, as members have invited friends to join, but it is an ecumenical organisation open to Christian women of all denominations, and open to those not attached to a particular Church, but who have a spiritual side to their life, and are supportive of Christian values and teaching.
The branch that I was a member of for many years had members from five or six different Churches, mainly due to our heritage, Church of England Churches, but we had several Roman Catholic members and a number of members from Free Churches.
An important part of the programme is a series of meetings each year called ‘Pause for thought’. These meetings give the members a chance to discuss the things of faith in an informal gathering, sometimes facilitated by clergy or other outside speakers, but often by our own members. This gives the members an opportunity to learn more about the Bible or the Christian tradition, and a chance to ask questions, debate, and explore ideas with friends, who sometimes have a different perspective. As the wife of a clergy man, I have found these opportunities offered by WiF to be incredibly supportive of my own Christian journey.
Sometimes at my own Church I feel I have to be careful of what I say in case someone disagrees, or I feel reluctant to express a doubt, or to tell a story about my own family, whereas at WiF I can be much more open. I have been amazed by the depth of faith, the kindness to others, and the openness to think about other people’s experience and beliefs.
Church services are also an important part of WiF life, not all branches will run a ‘Pause for thought’ programme, but all will have a Church service as part of the programme at some point in the year, and many branches will have more than one. Sometimes branches that are close geographically will join together for joint services, which will usually include sharing food and drinks afterwards, WiF tea parties are a thing to behold, always fun, but also an important way of deepening fellowship. The fellowship has it’s own service books which can be used, or sometimes the branch will join a local congregation at it’s regular mid week service, with most branches varying the Church that the service takes place in.
Some branches will have ways to pray for each other, by having prayer partners or prayer groups, others will have less formal networks of shepherds who look after a small group of members. This will not just be about spiritual needs but about all aspects of the fellowship. There are regular updates of prayers on the website, and a page of the magazine has a collection of prayers which members can use individually or as part of their meetings and services. Thus the Christian faith is the foundation of the Fellowship, but the social and intellectual side is also important, and the branch meetings will reflect this balance.