“Beloved” meets on second Mondays
by Melanie Jongsma
LANSING, Ill. (June 4, 2021) – “We just want to encourage women,” says Deb DeJong. “People went through a lot during this past year, and women especially may be feeling isolated because of COVID and having the kids around, or even losing someone to COVID during the past year.”
DeJong is partnering with two other women — Cami Hillegonds and Ann DeBoer — from Bethel Church (3500 Glenwood-Lansing Road) to host a monthly gathering specifically for women. The group is called Beloved, and promotional materials explain, “The world and our culture can be discouraging, telling us that we are not enough, but we want to counter that message with the truth — IN CHRIST, YOU ARE ENOUGH!!!”
The first meeting took place on May 10, and organizers estimate that 65–75 women attended.
Though the monthly gathering is being held at the Bethel Church building, DeJong says it’s for all women in the community, or for anyone who is looking for encouragement: “We’re trying to reach out to women in the area, to provide a place of shelter, a sense of belonging.” DeJong also adds that the program is “definitely Biblical” and is not intended to offer “generic” support.
A typical gathering will open with a few praise and worship songs, followed by a speaker or presenter. After the presentation, the women close with another song and then can choose to stay for refreshments in the adjoining fellowship hall. At the May meeting, Katie DeGraff led the singing, and Myra Lindquist spoke about mentoring.
The next Beloved meeting is June 14, and DeJong, Hillegonds, and DeBoer have another musician and presenter lined up. But DeJong prefers not to announce the name of the speaker because she doesn’t want a well-known name to be the main draw. The real value of the gatherings is the support and friendship the women find in each other.
That sense of connection has been evident even in planning and developing Beloved. Up to 30 volunteers of all ages stepped up to offer their skills and time. Some helped with promoting the event, others baked homemade refreshments, and many offered ideas about local speakers and meaningful music. Seeing the enthusiasm and creativity was encouraging, says DeJong.
It was November 2020 when DeJong and Hillegonds and DeBoer first discussed together the idea for a women’s encouragement ministry. The success of first Beloved gathering affirmed for them that they were meeting a need. Now they are ready to extend the invitation to the broader community, reaching “anyone who needs to be encouraged,” says DeJong.
No RSVP is needed. Interested women are welcome to show up Monday, June 14, at 7:00pm, at the east doors of Bethel Church. Women who have questions can use the following contact information to get them answered: