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Sisters in Scriptures

By Catherine Arveseth

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? 

About Catherine Arveseth

Catherine Arveseth is mother to five children, including two sets of twins. She is an exercise physiologist by profession, writer by passion, loves hiking with her family, oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, and the edge of an ocean. She and her husband, Doug, began their family in Virginia but now live in Salt Lake City, Utah. She blogs at wildnprecious.com.

16 thoughts on “Sisters in Scriptures”

  1. I believe this could be such a turning point in the lives of women's challenges and trials in our ward/stake if this were the focus instead of Super Saturdays and focusing on crafts. I just can't make myself give up Saturdays or even evenings for things that make no difference in my life. I feel I should support my Relief Society presidency, but time is too valuable a commodity to spend on "thin things". Sisters in the Scriptures sounds like a banquet for every woman who wants to both "come unto Christ" and thereby "become like Christ". I don't get that from crafts nor do they give me coping skills.

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  2. Cath! I attended a class like this when I first moved to Denver back in 2007…it was life changing for me! I no longer felt the {sometimes} drudgery of scripture study! Plus it was the extra bonus I needed to get through my week…it was motivating! Easy to ask questions…comfortable. I also loved that I was able to meet other women from my stake! We also had a nursery that was provided. Since moving back to Utah, I've asked around Utah County to see if anyone knew of such classes in this area…I've had no luck. Do you know of any down this way? I miss it so much. I need it. Boy do I need it.

    This could also be a great discussion on our Sunday School hour at church…don't you think? Pros, cons, benefits, what we could do to improve that hour of church {sorry if I'm the only one that feels this way, if so, disregard, it was never said nor typed…}.

    Thanks for the links!

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  3. Sharon – I absolutely agree with you! Time is too precious to spend it on fluff. Or things, as you said, that don't make a difference in our lives. If I'm going to leave my family for something, it has to be extremely worthwhile. And you described this class perfectly. It is a banquet. Spread of the things we need most: the gifts of the Spirit. I'm so grateful these inspired women made coming unto Christ their focus.

    Cami – you're cracking me up. Of course you can speak to that hour at church. I agree – our teaching needs to be edifying. It needs to offer members a place to express their thoughts and be comforted. But also to leave enlightened and lifted. I wish I knew of something down south for you. But if nothing else, you can download these podcasts! I'm hoping by spreading the word, we might see more efforts/classes like this within the stakes of the church. And I have to give a generous nod to our Stake presidency. They are wonderful men who have supported this class in every way.

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  4. "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?"

    This actually made me really sad. Why isn't this our Sunday RS Meeting?

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  5. Susan – you raise a valid question, and I feel your concern. Our Sunday RS meeting should do all those things. For me, it does. But as the hour is currently structured (I teach RS in our ward), by the time we're through with announcements and such we have about 20 minutes left to teach a lesson. And while I love the teachings of the prophets manuals, it is not a concentrated course from the standard works. This mid-week class is allowing us an entire hour to read and study a few chapters of scripture per week.

    Maybe the establishing of a class like this simply falls in line with Elder Hanks' directive: "Our learning should be increased in our spare time day by day." This class is motivating women to put in study time on their own. I agree; it would be nice of RS on Sunday could motivate the sisters as effectively. Something to think about. Thank you!

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  6. Just to clarify – I have nothing against crafts. I appreciate and am in awe of women who have been blessed with the ability to create beautiful things which feed my spirit in my home. (my role is to purchase; no ability to create). But I don't think that should be the focus of Relief Society activities. Immersing yourself in the scriptures is a commandment which applies to all. Individual interests and hobbies should be the focus of common interest groups, not a Relief Society organization as a whole, such as a ward or stake. That focus should be common ground for all – just my 2 cents worth. I wasn't knocking crafts.

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  7. I just listed to the podcast from earlier this week and really enjoyed it. She had me when she said she missed the Old Testament and talked about Deborah and Jael.

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  8. Katya – the class is at 10AM. Specs are on the blog sidebar under "about." 🙂

    Sharon – I had to smile at your clarification. Yes, of course there is a place for crafting. I'm with you in the "purchase" category for most creating, so your comment rang true to me. But I understood your sentiment to be more about focusing on truths that are necessary for salvation and progress. Thanks again.

    Amira – Ah, I know… Nancy's passion is the OT. I'm hoping she teaches long enough to carry us through the books of Moses and the prophets.

    Cheri – so glad!!

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  9. I agree with you Sharon. I think we need to edify one another and strengthen each other when we gather for Relief Society! I do have a thought about the activities sometimes serving a different need though! I have noticed that activities that are focused on crafts or food or socializing can be a great way to simply get sisters together. Especially those who may not feel as comfortable in church! It is a great missionary tool!! It is the catalyst to provide an opportunity for us to be with one another to then share love and friendship. I have observed that this can then make our meetings on Sunday even more worthwhile. When we spend time outside of church getting to know each other better, it can be just as edifying in a different way and then provide greater opportunity to share and feel the spirit together on Sunday! I see a great need for sisters to simply be together. I understand how valuable time is! Especially when I am choosing to leave my family but, when you consider those "non-member" friends, a night of crafts with wonderful women can be an answer to prayer! 🙂

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  10. I'm not sure if this will help but the American Fork West Stake has a weekly adult scripture class held on Wednesday mornings at 11:00 a.m. taught by Mary Ellen Edmunds. The building is at 688 West 500 North in AF.

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  11. Emilie – you wise soul. Thank you for seeing it from a different perspective. I believe you are right about the need to socialize, gather, and bring others with us in a non-threatening, fun environment. Thanks for the comment here. xo

    Emily C. – I will point Cami that direction. Very helpful! Thank you!

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