Rockford Woman spirituality column.

There’s comfort in sharing your deepest thoughts with those who understand you and can relate to you. There’s no need to explain yourself because those around you know exactly what you mean.

That’s how women describe what it feels like to participate in women’s Bible study groups.

“There’s freedom to open up and be vulnerable as a woman with other women,” said Pam MacRae, a Rockford resident and professor at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago.

“Women want to know God, who he is and how he affects their lives,” said MacRae, who has worked in women’s ministry for 25 years and attends First Free Evangelical Church. “Because women are so relational, we learn well in community with other women.”

If you’re looking for support, spiritual guidance or friendship, a women’s Bible study might be the answer.

Dixie Simons, 76, is co-leader of the women’s Bible study group at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Rockford. The 16 women have had every kind of experience — death of children, accidents, illnesses.

“We marvel at how sometimes we cannot understand experiences as we’re going through them,” Simons said. “It’s only when we look back on them that we can understand that God was with us all along.”

Joining a faith group can help in dealing with specific issues in life, such as parenting, depression, cancer, eating disorders, divorce or drug addiction. Call one of the bigger congregations if your church doesn’t have a women’s Bible study group because they are likely to have nondenominational programs open to the public.

Deniece Senter, 38, has led several women’s groups at her church, Providence Baptist, where her husband, John, is pastor. She also works with abused women through Rockford-based Deniece Senter Ministries.

“Discussing Bible issues, a woman can say something and it becomes a healing process for the entire group,” Senter said. “One of the most important things for women to do is to feed off each other’s strengths.”

Anna Voelker is the online editor for Rockford Woman. She’s also a member of a faith group (nine women and four men) through St. James Catholic Church in Rockford. Do you have a topic for this spirituality column? E-mail


Looking for a women’s Bible study group? Here are some tips:

Call your church office. Ask what kinds of women’s groups are available and whom you should contact to get involved.

If your church doesn’t have women’s Bible study groups, call one of the larger churches in your community. Pam MacRae said First Free Evangelical Church offers several women-only nondenominational programs.

Not finding what you’re looking for? “If there’s not something in your niche, consider starting one yourself or with a co-teacher,” Dixie Simons of St. Mark’s Lutheran Church said. “Help each other.” Go to a Christian bookstore for teacher guides, some of which are digital.