Nichole Scott, sophomore communication major, had considered going to VW several times, but was unsure what the program involved. Then a friend invited her to attend the VW meeting at which Tanya Cochran was the featured speaker. Seeing as Cochran is her boss, former teacher and friend, Scott decided to check it out.
"I wasn't sure what to expect and didn't know if I would like it" Scott said.
Scott's perceptions changed quickly with her first impressions of the gathering. Everyone was very welcoming, making sure she got plenty of snacks and lending her a book from the VW library. The room was decorated and softly lit to create a homey, relaxed atmosphere. Cochran's talk was thought provoking, and Scott was introduced to several girls she had never met before through small-group discussion during the presentation. She even received a Bath and Body Works gift package.
"I had never received a thank-you package for attending an event before, "Scott said. "The VW leaders truly care about the people they minister to."
The idea started when Shelli Johnson '07, then a senior business administration major, heard about a women's ministry called Virtuous Women (VW) from a friend who said it was successful at Pacific Union College. Johnson was inspired by the idea and thought VW was much needed for women at Union.
"Campus Ministries at Union has a reputation of allowing young people to bring in ideas and then helping and supporting the student leaders." Johnson said. "I took the idea of VW and made it fit for the Union College women."
Esther Shields, junior communications major, helped brainstorm with Johnson on how they were going to make this ministry a success. "It was very exciting to see this ministry start," Shields said. "We hope every woman on campus could gain a spiritual experience that they can take with them."
VW's mission statement is "Journeying together in grace to discover and fulfill His purposes." Johnson and Shields prayed about the idea and wanted the ladies of Union College to feel that you don't have to be perfect to be important to God, each other and the world.
"God sent the right team of girls to be a part of VW ministry," Johnson said. "The best part of being in charge is watching a team of girls build ideas, friendships and grow as leaders."
The team meets and brainstorms on the theme or topic they want to share. Each team member has a different task within the program that includes creating a worship experience, food, speaker and book ministry. The team members take the initiative to add their small tasks into the bigger ministry.
Brittany Brady, junior religion major, leads VW's book ministry. Brady is excited about making the book ministry booth attractive to girls and selecting books that are useful to young women. Each book can be checked out for a month. "I try to find books for women, some about both men and women, and books on how to be a great woman" said Brady.
"I feel like the girls' leadership team puts a lot of work into creating an atmosphere to make me feel so welcomed and loved by other women," said Kyra Eddy, junior business administration major. "VW is a time for all women to come together and share God."
Each VW, there is a special theme, such as a "Come as You are Pajama Party" or "Comfortable in Your Own Skin." An average of 50 to 70 women participate in the monthly VW meetings.
For the holiday VW themed "Appreciation," faculty and staff set up booths with their own crafts for making cards. LeAnn Merth, dean of women, had a booth full of cards, ribbons, glitter and stamps.
"It is very rewarding and helpful to get ideas for the next VW just by seeing and hearing the reactions of how much the ladies enjoyed and were blessed by this ministry," said team leader Pam Torres, junior music education major.
No longer skeptical, Scott says she will definitely participate in VW again. "The ministry combines everything that women view as important—emotional and relational connections with other women, intellectual growth and spiritual refreshment all in a friendly, warm atmosphere." said Scott. "The community that VW has created on Union's campus is truly something worthwhile. It's a vital addition to Union's already long list of ministries."