Women of the Word (WOW) are anticipating 500 for their kickoff next week, for what will be a comprehensive but down-to-earth Bible study, with videos, music, testimonies and small group discussion. There will be a teen group, led by a female youth pastor, and childcare.
Celeste Valliant, for one, voiced optimism at least that many women would gather. “We’re praying for 500, and I do believe we’re going to have 500,” she said. “I think we’re going to start out with a huge number of people.”
WOW is interdenominational, Valliant pointed out. Although Mariner’s Bethel United Methodist Church will act as host (and some of the female special guests who’ve addressed the Mariner’s Bethel congregation in the past will take part), WOW stands independent, Valliant said.
“This is not just Mariner’s Bethel,” she noted. “This is people from Milton, from Milford, from Ocean City and Berlin. Catholic, Protestant — there are no lines drawn.
“And, it’s for women,” Valliant added. “Women like to get together, talk, have a cup of coffee and a doughnut. And for gals who’ve just moved to the area and don’t know many other women, this is great opportunity to meet people — and learn about the Bible.”
WOW will ultimately span three years. According to Valliant, they cover the Bible book by book — all 66 of them — but broken down into 40-minute synopses.
The popular format generated “The Amazing Collection” series of videos and workbooks (first conceived in Atlanta, Ga.), and WOW will use those materials.
From the Web site, www.theamazingcollection.com, the whole program is priced at about $300. However, for WOW, participants will only need the workbook. Valliant said they’d be asking for a voluntary “love offering” of $10 to cover those costs.
One of “The Amazing Collection” founders, Margie Biasotto, recently moved to the area and will be participating as a regular speaker with WOW.
Biasotto said none of the original four (herself, Pat Harley, Eleanor Lewis and Linda Sweeney) were ordained. She considered that a positive, though — a kind of testimonial. “If four housewives from Roswell, Ga. can do this, anybody can,” Biasotto pointed out.
Various theologians and biblical scholars had weighed in on “The Amazing Collection,” though, and she said they’d incorporated that advice.
WOW participants will run through the 66 books in sequential order, every Wednesday night at 7 p.m. — one book a week, short or long. WOW takes off summers and holidays, which is why it runs three years rather than a year and a half, Biasotto noted.
Optional, for ladies who wanted the most from the study, she said there was a homework component (15 minutes a day). However, as Valliant pointed out, it wasn’t even mandatory that participants come to every meeting.
Biasotto agreed. “People are so busy, and we wanted to make it easy,” she said. But while they speed through each book in approximately 40 minutes, they add some elements, too.
For instance, chronology — the Books of Genesis and Job took place during the same period, Biasotto pointed out, and they’d be sure to provide temporal reference points throughout the WOW study.
In addition, she noted cross-reference between ancient maps and modern nations, and the beliefs of the people who lived in those nations today.
As Biasotto reiterated, WOW was nondenominational, and non-churchgoers sometimes dropped in, too. She recalled their second kickoff event, which they’d held on a Sept. 11.
Muslim and Jewish women had joined the study, Biasotto said, interested in finding answers to the question, “We’re all talking about the same father of Abraham, so why are we still fighting.”
Valliant said the material was especially geared toward use in everyday life. Things start off with a general overall message on Sept. 14. A local artisan is scheduled to throw a pot, reminding WOW participants to “place themselves in the potter’s hands” – think about willingness to serve, to become what God molds and makes of them.
After that, it’s down to business, starting with Genesis and working all the way through, one book a week, every Wednesday night, 7 p.m.
“I think people will find WOW a very comfortable, welcoming place to learn about the Bible, ask questions and grow,” Valliant said. “Lives can change, and you can make some wonderful new friends in the process.”
For more information, contact Mariner’s Bethel at 539-9510. The church is located at the corner of Central Avenue and Atlantic Avenue (Route 26) in Ocean View, and the WOW kickoff is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 14, at 7 p.m.