God's Beautiful Promise in Oklahoma
The two United Methodist Women circle at Frederick United Methodist Church in Frederick, Okla., met during the day, so in 2009 a group of younger working women formed a new circle and named it Isabella, which means God’s beautiful promise. Right away they set their mission sights on mentoring teenage girls in their church and community.
“Most members of our circle have daughters in their teens,” said Jill Biggs, a key leader and a founding member of the circle comprised of mostly 20- to 30-something-year-old women. “As mothers, we want to see our daughters grow in the Lord and become grounded in their faith. We also want to reach out to girls who are not in our church, especially those who don’t have a mother figure or mentor.”
The Isabella Circle named their girls’ group “Baby Bellas.” One of the girls, Mykah Snyder, says another word describes it best: “Baby Bella is just another word for awesome.” Mykah’s mother, Dennyse Snyder, agrees that what’s happening because of Isabella Circle and Baby Bellas is awesome.
“As a mom, I’ve been excited to watch relationships grow stronger between our women and our teens,” she said. “It’s a blessing to all of us.” Isabella Circle meets with the Baby Bellas one Sunday morning each month. They eat breakfast, have a devotional and discuss upcoming joint projects like hosting soup and salad lunches after church throughout the year to raise funds for Mission Giving and local mission projects.
Some of the youth projects are close to home. This past summer the Bellas were among the 100 youth who participated in Frederick’s United Methodist Youth Force. The young people helped repair several homes owned by persons who were not able to do the work themselves and couldn’t afford to have the work done. Several Bellas are now helping with the church’s after-school tutoring program and learning to be mentors.
The Bellas also help people with needs far away from Oklahoma, including sponsoring and corresponding with a child in Burma.
During 2010 and 2011, the Isabella Circle took the Bellas to inspirational retreats for teenage girls in Dallas, Texas, about 200 miles away. In March of this year members hosted an event for teenage girls. The event featured a nationally known speaker who has written several books for teens.
“We had inspiring worship, good music, funny skits, small group discussions, individual reflection time and lessons on etiquette and social networking,” said Ms. Biggs. “And we did manicures, pedicures, crafts jewelry and ate delicious food.”
In addition to teens from the church and community, scores from the surrounding area of southwest Oklahoma participated.
Ms. Biggs says the Isabella Circle hopes to convey to young girls that the decisions they make — whether it’s regarding their character, their friends or how they relate to others — can have a life-changing impact on them. “Getting them involved as teens in United Methodist Women can help them experience the satisfaction that comes from serving others and being involved in worthwhile causes.”
Ms. Biggs says the Isabella Circle works closely with the other circles at Frederick United Methodist Church. “Once a month, all three circles meet together for a Saturday morning brunch, business meeting and Bible lesson. Our circles support one another’s mission projects and fundraisers. Our United Methodist Women bazaar is always a big event for our church,” she said.
Eric Snyder, now in his fourth year as pastor of the 550-member congregation, says the Isabella Circle is involved in the total life of the church. Mr. Snyder points out that various members of the circle lead or help with the youth group and children’s ministry, teach Sunday school, serve as counselors for youth mission projects, participate in the quilting ministry or help with the church’s Pumpkin Patch, Harvest Festival, Christmas and Easter events. A member of Isabella Circle directs the Jellie and Jamm Children’s Choir and produces two children’s musicals each year.
Judy Benson, a member of Frederick United Methodist Church, lay leader of both the Oklahoma Annual Conference and South Central Jurisdiction, and member of the United Methodist Connectional Table, said, “God is at work through Isabella Circle. These young women are a great example of what can happen when the women are united in a common purpose to serve and honor God.”
A former president of Oklahoma Conference United Methodist Women, Ms. Benson concludes, “Members of Isabella Circle have a wonderful influence on our church and people of all ages.”
Boyce Bowdon retired in 2005 after serving as a pastor for 20 years and as director of communications for the Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church for 24 years. He lives with his wife in Oklahoma City, Okla., where he writes inspirational articles and books.