This year marks the tenth anniversary of the formation of Bethany Association, an international, ecumenical, charismatic network of women who are living single for the Lord in the Sword of the Spirit.
When we first met together, there were 17 women throughout the Sword of the Spirit who had made lifelong commitments to living single for the Lord. Each of us had experienced this call as members of our local covenant communities, but we had no formal connection to one another. In 2009, after considering how we might come together to actively support one another, make our way of life more visible, and help young women who feel called to live single for the Lord in the Sword of the Spirit, we ratified our charter, and the Lord gave us our name Bethany Association.
In the North American Region, there are currently seven sisters who are members of Bethany Association: Jeanne Kun, Sherry Snyder, Sue Cummins, (The Word of Life, Ann Arbor, Michigan), Lori Covak (Community of Christ the Redeemer, St. Paul Minnesota), Nohelia Lopez (City on the Hill, Los Angeles, California) Marge Connelly (People of God, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), and our newest member, Rebeca Sastre (Light of Christ Community, Grand Rapids, MI). In total, there are 21 sisters throughout the Sword of the Spirit with lifelong and full commitments.
In 2018, two of our founding sisters, Beth Melchor, (Asian Region) and Myriam Torres (North America) have passed away. These two women gave witness by their lives and deaths to the hope of the resurrection and the impact that women living single for the Lord can have in the Sword of the Spirit.
Over the past ten years, we have grown in our understanding of who we are and how we see ourselves serving our communities, our churches, and our Lord through our involvement in the mission of the Sword of the Spirit. Bethany sisters do not all live together nor do we have all our finances in common. Our local communities and our homes are the places from which we receive pastoral care, work to support ourselves, and serve. Like Martha and Mary who served the Lord by offering him a home to rest in and be refreshed, we want to imitate the way they cared for the needs of Jesus and his disciples, but also were attentive to him and listened to his words.
As an association, we encourage young women in our communities and outreaches to live radical and dedicated lives for the Lord no matter what state of life they are called to live. Toward that end, we recently developed a booklet that can be used throughout the Sword of the Spirit as a resource for helping women discern their state in life.
Keep your eyes on the lookout for the unveiling of a new Bethany website where we plan to offer access to this resource guide and other inspirational materials.
Bethany Association holds an international conference biannually—this coming August we will be meeting in Costa Rica —for its members. Young women in more serious stages of discerning a call to live single for the Lord are invited to join us. We also occasionally offer regional retreats.
This article was first published in the North American Newsletter of the Sword of the Spirit, April 2019. Taken from Living Bulwark June/July 2019 issue. Used with permission.