In a day and age where people are searching for ways to connect to their communities, interests and faiths, there is one ensemble in the Hancock Park area that has been thriving for nearly a decade: a Bible study group made up of 11 dedicated women.
“Nancy started the group,” says Barbara Hardesty of fellow member Nancy Baker. “We were all members of Hollywood Presbyterian (church), and Nancy asked for a list of people at the church in the same zip codes so that we could connect with people in the neighborhood.”
It is a connection that has lasted through the years. Some women have come and gone, and some current members live outside of Hancock Park, but it has always maintained its constant membership of around 11 attendees.
“There is a closeness, an intimacy that works with a small group,” says Audrey Fimpler. “To grow the group would be to defeat the purpose.”
The ladies meet every Monday, usually at Baker’s Hancock Park home. Their agenda involves prayer, study and fellowship. Through conversation, they cover events in their lives, pray for each other, and dissect and discuss Bible study aids that teach them about the Bible’s different passages, stories and teachings.
“We try to do two studies per year,” says Hardesty. “Our first study was on the ‘Book of Psalms,’ and we are currently studying ‘Women of the Old Testament.’”
By discussing the Bible in a group setting and hearing different interpretations from each member, the women catch things that they may have otherwise missed. “I may see something that Nancy doesn’t see,” says Fimpler. “My grandfather was a minister, but I never really understood what the Bible was saying to me until I joined this group.”
“There are three points to our reading,” continues Baker. “Observation, interpretation and application. After we interpret the reading, we think about what changes we can each personally make in our own lives today. That’s the application.”
“It helps us to try, emphasis on try, to become better Christians in our own lives and attitudes,” says Hardesty.“No one preaches,” says Eddie Bolding. “Everyone shares her views.”
The small group has become so close that they go on a three-day summer retreat to Lake Arrowhead.
“We are all sisters,” says Valerie Agostinelli. “When something happens in my life, I immediately think to ask my Bible study group to pray.”
“We have lots of fun and laughs,” says Pam Pantell, but we’re focused on why we’re here. God is the center and He has drawn us closer.”
By guest columnist Sondi Sepenuk