Wisconsin Fellowship Takes Bible Study to Coffee House

( [email protected] ) Mar 08, 2004 02:39 PM EST

God is omni-present so why can’t bible study groups be too? For three years, three women in Wood County, Wisconsin, have discovered that those in their Bible study group can meet with God anywhere—even in a public coffee house.

It couldn't have been a better idea, said Nekoosa resident Bonnie Lemke, 53, who frequently attends the Friday morning women's group.

"We have 21 people on our list of participants, but not everyone comes at once; usually, we have 10 to 15 people," said Lemke. "We have a mixture of ages, denominations and people from (south Wood County).

The group meets in a coffee house called “From the Ground Up.” The public space has even been advantageous in drawing more members to the group.

"We have people who've joined us because they've heard us laughing and having a good time," said Lemke, who is also a member of Christian Life Fellowship in Port Edwards.

Darlene Gear, 71, of Wisconsin Rapids has felt rejuvenated after she began attending the meetings.

"I wanted to get into a small group study with ladies for years," Gear said. "The gals in this group are wonderful and I feel so young, and I leave there with a spring in my step.

"I feel so inspired when I read God's word and meet with these wonderful women."

Some participants have even experienced a change of heart regarding being accepted by Christian fellowships and groups.

When Asha Dewan was a freshman at the University of Wisconsin, very-public fellowships like Student Impact and Athletes Action made her closed to the idea of joining them. After joining with the coffee Bible study group, she was able to see people behind those groups are were different than she expected.

"I'm Indian, and when I came to central Wisconsin from Milwaukee, it was so different than I was used to, but the people in this group didn't care that I was different than a lot of people here," said Dewan, 19, a sophomore. "They didn't want me for my time, money or to volunteer - they wanted to know me."

She now agrees that holding visible meetings on campus helps people see that many Christians are fun and not close-minded or judgmental.

Currently, the Wisconsin Rapids group is studying the topic "Battlefield of the Mind".

Lemke commented, "The study is important, but it's not the only important thing about our group.”

"The fellowship, the accountability, feeling like you can spill your guts and truly living life deeply is all part of what we share."

The Bible study meetings have made From the Ground Up a very popular place even for other types of meetings.

"We have quite a few requests from groups to meet and it's cool to see that,” says owner Alice Wallner who operates the place with her husband Joe. “That's what Joe and I wanted when we opened, for people to come in and stay a while and utilize the space.”

Christina Topinka, 28, a member of a nondenominational group that hosts Biblical discussions in various public places said that the generosity of businesses willing to host meetings and the availability of public meeting rooms helps foster the fellowships many people are enjoying.

"It's amazing," Topinka said. "We see people who are just becoming interested, and then we see other people who come to feed their heart and increase their faith."