Three years ago our Stake Relief Society Presidency had a thought: What if we created a weekly scripture class for the women of our stake, where they could be edified, taught, and comforted in the presence of other searching women?
The idea quickly grew into reality and before long I found myself sitting in the chapel listening to two women teach out of the scriptures, as if I was back in Israel, completely filled by the spirit, gleaning truth from enlightened professors.
They called it Sisters in Scriptures and our two Stake RS counselors were selected to be the teachers. Years of dedicated scripture study have prepared them for this experience. Diane Adair, (in the Yankees cap) is a former seminary teacher and regular presenter at BYU Education Week. Nancy Hanks Baird (turquoise necklace) is a published writer, poet, and gospel scholar. They are more than qualified . . . and were wonderfully good-natured when I informed them I wanted to take their picture after class this Tuesday.
Wanting to reach every sister in the stake, they knew a nursery would need to be provided. So every week, Sisters (and Brothers!) from our stake volunteer their time to care for three classrooms full of young children. These men and women are true Saints.
Initially, I brought both my sets of twins to the nursery. If anyone appreciated this selfless service, I did! My boys began to look forward to scripture class. Soon they were giving Miss Mavis and Brother Jensen big hugs when they left. The nursery has met real needs, brought women who were parched to the well of Christ’s living water.
We are currently studying the New Testament – Acts through Revelation, and every month the class grows. Women from all over the valley have started attending. Similar classes in neighboring stakes have cropped up.
But what has struck me over the last three years as I have sat at their feet, scribbled into margins, wrote down strokes of inspiration, is that verse, “Trust no man (or woman) to be your teacher, unless they be of God” (Mosiah 23:14).
Glance online and there are a litany of voices to listen to. Voices of passion for or against certain causes, or in many places, increasing tones of relativity and ambiguity. To whom do we listen? Where do we spend our time?
Alma tells us. We listen to those who walk in God’s ways and keep his commandments. Those who watch over others and nourish them with things pertaining to righteousness (Mosiah 23:14 – 18).
When I listen to Diane and Nancy, I hear more than doctrine. I hear the echoes of their lives. I see their hearts, their choices, the way pure living shines out of their faces. They genuinely care about the sisters who walk into that chapel. They are striving to be like God.
And the fruit? It is good.
The impact on individual lives from an increased study of the word in our stake is overwhelming. The sisters will tell you. Their lives are better for it. They feel more connected to God. They are striving, reading, searching, serving each other, and tucking new lines of learning into their testimonies. To sit and be taught by wise women like this has been a remarkable, powerful gift.
Because our Segullah readership extends around the world and many of you live in places where a class like this isn’t possible, I wanted to bring Sisters in Scriptures to you. You can listen to each class via our Sisters in Scriptures blog. Or, just last month, Sisters in Scriptures was made available on iTunes. Make sure you have a podcast app, then download the classes to listen at your convenience.
When we began our study of Acts this year, Nancy shared this quote by her father.
No one knows anything about Christ’s work simply by being born a member of the Church, and often [she] knows little about it after years of unmotivated exposure in meetings or classes. [She] must learn. And learning involves self-investment and effort. The gospel should be studied as carefully as any science. The literature of the Church must be acquired and read. Our learning should be increased in our spare time day by day. Then as we put the gospel truth to work in daily life, we will never find it wanting. We will be literate in the most important field of knowledge in the universe, knowledge for lack of which men and nations perish, in the light of which men and nations may be saved. (Marion D. Hanks, “Theological Illiterates,” Improvement Era, Sept. 1969, 42)
Would a class like this be helpful to you? What is the benefit of women learning together? How has your life been blessed by trusted teachers of God?