“Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel.”
‒ Proverbs 27:9, ESV
Dorothy Hurd has led Stonecroft Bible Studies (SBS) for 50 years!
That’s a half century of watching women’s lives transformed as they study God’s Word and five decades of seeing multitudes of friendships grow from learning and praying together.
“People are hurting, lonely, and they want someone to pay attention to them,” Dorothy, an SBS Coordinator from Rootstown, Ohio, says. When a woman joins an SBS, she gains a circle of friends with whom she can share her life and fill the void of loneliness.
Dorothy wants to make sure each woman new to the study participates at her own pace. The new member isn’t pressured immediately to pray or read Scriptures aloud or get involved in the discussions right away. It’s her decision to jump right in or take her time to fully engage.
No matter how long it takes for a newcomer to feel comfortable enough to participate, she soon grows to understand that the women she’s sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with are “trustworthy, not gossips who will share their secrets,” Dorothy says.
Prayer is a strong bond when study participants pray together. The women in her group care and pray for each other. Through discussions and prayer requests, they build relationships with their SBS friends. Members know the stories of their struggles and share the joy of their victories. The participants “soon learn the names of each other’s family members,” Dorothy says.
During a recent break between studies, one participant had a family member undergoing a serious surgery. Even though they weren’t in the same room together, Dorothy was confident that each woman in the study would pray for the situation the day of the operation. The distance between them didn’t stop the united prayer.
Dorothy’s groups usually number around nine. Sometimes, women hear about the study and want to attend. In one book study, 17 women showed up. “We were cramped around my kitchen table,” Dorothy says with a laugh. “I didn’t turn anyone away, but I did announce that when we did the next study, we would multiply. So, we found a guide and another group formed.”
Once, the group dropped to three participants at the start of a new study, but that didn’t stop the group. They started inviting their friends, others heard about the group, and soon they were back up to nine, Dorothy says.
Of course, in a 50-year span, the group has seen its share of turnover. New women join, some drop out, some travel a lot, and others pass away. This just means there are more friendships to form and more prayers for these new friends.
“Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.”
– Galatians 6:2