Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Circle of Sisters blurs congregational lines

A local ministry is bringing together women from the community's small churches and those without a church home for the benefit of its participants and others.

Circle of Sisters was born from Crooked Creek Baptist Church's outreach ministries that include GriefShare and DivorceCare. Through such programs, the small Southern Baptist congregation is encouraging people to get involved with God's work in order to help them further their spiritual journey. COS, as organizer Donna Girten refers to the women's ministry, is a non-denominational effort to bring like-minded people together for a common cause.

"Many of our smaller rural churches are challenged to find people and resources to provide a women's ministry," said Girten, whose husband Mark is pastor at the tiny church at Crooked Creek. "We may be small, but joining together, we can be greatly used and produce fruit. We need to lift each other up because when one church fails we all fail."

The group of women rotate their meeting between participating churches. Their next meeting is scheduled for 2 p.m. Sept. 24 at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Greenwood Heights.

"Our ladies join together for fellowship and to participate in Bible studies, devotionals and other activities to grow their faith, and they work together to do outreach service projects in our community," Girten explained.

One outreach ministry is offering "survival bags" to the homeless or displaced. The kits include items such as crackers, water, small toiletries, a shirt, a blanket and information about Christianity.

"Many months ago, The (Crittenden) Press had an article on the homeless," Girten said, explaining the outreach ministry's origins. "It was a need we'd never realized, and one of our ladies said, 'I'd like to do something.'"

Girten said the women met with Marion Police Chief Ray O'Neal and Crittenden County Sheriff Wayne Agent to figure out how best to distribute the bags to those in need. The law enforcement officers pointed to newly-freed prisoners at the county's jail as one group often in need. When their sentence is up, inmates from around the state being held at the 179-bed detention center are released just after midnight. The men and women, some of whom may live hours away, often have no one to pick them up.

"Those with just a bus ticket home are not able to leave until the  afternoon," Girten said.
For those individuals, the COS survival bags are the first act of kindness they receive on the outside, giving them a bit of a jump on re-entering society and most importantly, encouragement for their future.

Circle of Sisters is open to any woman who shares the tenets of Christianity.

"Our  basic belief shared is Jesus Christ is the Lord of all," Girten explained. "We want to reach women of all ages and stages searching and seeking their individual ministry and spiritual journey, especially if they're not connected to a church or family of God who can help them."

To learn more about joining COS, contact Girten at (270) 969-9553.