Photo Courtesy of Gail McKenzie
During October and November, Gail McKenzie, Kentucky-Tennessee Conference women’s ministries director, completed a Bible study series with a group of women in Ireland. According to McKenzie, the meetings led to newly formed, long-distance friendships and future plans to meet in person.
McKenzie came in contact with the Irish group after she was asked to lead their spiritual online retreat back in June of 2021. The original speaker had to back out due to personal reasons. After the retreat ended, the women wanted to continue meeting.
“During the retreat, Gail spoke all about digging deeper into the Bible,” Pamela Petersen, church member in Coleraine and Londonderry churches in Ireland, said. “…That sparked an interest among the ladies. So, [Gail] offered to do some Bible studies with us.”
The group started meeting on October 7, 2021. The hour-long sessions, which were at 1:30 p.m. CT for McKenzie and 7:30 p.m. GMT for the women in Ireland, followed the Bible journal by Thomas Nelson, Love God Greatly.
“My friend gave us 20 of these journals, and so we shipped it over there,” McKenzie said. “It was a gift. We just wanted to give them something that they could keep and follow, which I think they really loved.”
According to McKenzie, the group, which averaged seven to ten participants per meeting, followed the structure described in the acronym SOAP (Scripture, Observation, Application, and Prayer). During the meetings, the women shared their insights from the week’s Bible study.
“[The women] enjoyed the fact that this was a safe place to speak,” Petersen said. “So, they shared their problems. They shared how the verses have impacted their lives, and maybe even how they struggled with it. It was like an outlet to really voice the deeper concerns that they wouldn't be sharing in public otherwise.”
The Bible study meetings ended on November 18, 2021, but McKenzie says they are planning to pick up a new series in 2022. In addition, McKenzie and Petersen are planning a retreat for the women of Kentucky-Tennessee to visit Ireland in 2022, and for the Irish women to join the Conference’s 2023 Women’s Ministries Retreat.
“I know that would be extraordinary for them,” McKenzie said. “I think it will just deepen their faith and broaden their view. It will give them a world picture that they're not alone. Though they may be a small [group], they're not alone. They have [Ky.-Tenn.] sisters that are praying for them and want to connect.”
Kentucky-Tennessee | January 2022