Westminster Presbyterian Church

Westminster Presbyterian Church, 17 William St., Auburn.

Being busy is the norm for most people these days. Our schedules are full of activities, meetings, obligations and important commitments. It can be easy to neglect our deepest needs, to forget to make time for self-care and self-renewal. Our busy schedules can present the illusion that we are part of a community, but often they only leave us feeling more isolated and unsupported. We crave a space in which we can be authentically ourselves — a space to be vulnerable, to be known, in our hurts and in our joys.

A couple years ago, I realized this was true of me. I was overwhelmed by the requirements of my master’s program at Northeastern Seminary, and I was feeling exhausted and isolated. I needed emotional and spiritual support, and I turned to my pastor, the Rev. Patrick Heery. I realized that I needed to care for myself and that there were probably many others who needed the same. From these conversations, “Refresh,” a new Christian women’s group, was created.

Rev. Heery asked me some questions that planted the seed for starting Refresh. The questions, “What did I need?” and “What was I looking for?” were starting points. I needed community. It is undeniable that people thrive in community, and I needed a community where I could come alive. I am a member of Westminster Presbyterian Church, which as a whole is a loving and supportive community. However, as a single woman, what I needed was the companionship and fellowship of other women. More specifically, I needed a safe, sacred place where I could voice my emotional and spiritual needs with other women.

It is my belief that, too often, women go without the necessary support they need mentally, emotionally and spiritually. There is a fear that if we admit that we need help that somehow that makes us appear weak. The unfortunate problem is that many of us share that same fear, so we silently go about our days in need of self-care and companionship. I was sinking fast, and I realized that I was weak and feeling isolated because I was trying to do things on my own. I have always believed that our faith is to be lived out in community, and so it is to my community I turned. I am fortunate to be a part of a faith family that encourages honest questioning, respectful discussion and caring relationships. Not everyone belongs to a church like this, and not all churches offer this environment. Refresh grew because Westminster is a place that fosters this type of initiative and values caring relationships.

Refresh began as a young women’s group. We quickly realized, however, that the need for self-care and spiritual nurturing is not limited to any one age group. We opened the group to all women, and it has grown to include a variety of women who care for each other and who value this time together.

To focus our conversations, we have done Bible studies, movie and book discussions, and topical themes. We are currently studying women of the New Testament.

Refresh is not limited to Westminster members. It welcomes all women who are in search of a safe place to connect with other women. We gather every third Saturday of the month at 10 a.m., at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 17 William St., for a time of meditation, discussion, prayer and coffee. Our next meeting is Saturday, Oct. 19. We invite all women to join us, the busier the better. That’s who needs this most.

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Shavonn Lynch is an ordained deacon at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Auburn. She is in her final year at Northeastern Seminary at Roberts Wesleyan College, due to graduate in May 2020 with a master's in divinity.