Nora St. Laurent runs three book clubs outside of Atlanta and has established a successful model that has made her a resource for others who would like to establish clubs. To Nora, Book Clubs are a Ministry that revolve around relationships and through this, the Lord would love the women that He put in her life extravagantly. She facilitates a safe environment where women can enter into relationships. She says it best: "This is not about what church you belong to or how well you know the Bible. It also is not a matter of whether or not you go to church. God has called you into relationship with Him and with me and the other ladies in this group to love, to be loved and to encourage each other." She has a vision to duplicate the model to reach as many people as possible and is writing a book about how to do just this. Visit her blog at http://www.psalm516.blogspot.com/
Introducing North Metro's Book Club Leader
Let me introduce you to Sheryl Barnes, an experienced, successful book club leader. She has run a book club at her church for many years.
Sheryl Barnes lives in Lawrenceville, Georgia, a fast-paced suburb northeast of Atlanta. She and her husband, David, have been married twenty-six years and have two wonderful daughters, Danielle and Cindy. After serving in the children’s ministry and music ministry for fifteen years, Sheryl felt a pull to serve in the women’s ministry of her church. Being an avid reader of Christian fiction, she helped launch and co-coordinates the Ladies Book Club of North Metro FBC, where she is a member. Sheryl’s favorite past times include a good cup of coffee and an open book. Sheryl is never without a book nearby, she even carries one in her purse just in case she finds a moment or two for herself.
So, Sheryl I’ve decided to check out your book club for this month. Can you tell me what I can expect typically at your meeting? Does your book club have a name?
Thank you so much, Nora, for taking time to check out our book club. We are the North Metro First Baptist Church Ladies Book Club. We are presently looking into a “book club name” for our group and hope to have it selected in the next couple of months.
The one thing you can always count on at our meetings is an evening of fellowship. We begin each meeting with some time for visiting, a good cup of coffee, and some yummy snacks. After allowing time for everyone to arrive, we begin our meeting with prayer and then we delve into the book. It helps tremendously to have discussion questions to lead the conversation. We close out with news of upcoming events and the announcement of the book selection for the next month.
Had you been involved with a book club before this one? How did you get started running a book club in the first place?
Actually, this is the first book club I’ve been associated with. How I became involved was truly God’s doing. While traveling with our choir on a day-trip, I was talking with a friend, Crystie Southerland, about how I thought it would be nice if our church had a book club. She then told me that she had just made that suggestion to the Ladies Ministry Team and had been told to “go for it” and find a team.
Needless to say, we shared a seat on the bus ride home and that was the beginning of our “team.” Crystie and I have been co-coordinators for our book club from its birth over five years ago. We’ve worked together and through God’s help have watched our book club grow to a membership of over fifty
women. We’re not only co-coordinators for the club, but we’ve also become great friends. Funny how God brings people together—I got on the bus as a choir member and stepped off as a book club coordinator.
Have you ever had an author speak at your book club, in person or on the telephone? If so, who? How did the meeting go? Any surprises?
Yes, Nora, we’ve had several authors join us for our meetings. Though I must admit that when we began this endeavor, I never imagined this for our book club. It’s been truly amazing to be blessed with the opportunity to get to know the person behind the pen.
Our first guest was Randy Singer, and it has been our pleasure to actually meet with him on more than one occasion, as well as Amy Wallace and Creston Mapes. We’ve also had visits from Chris Coppernoll, Rebeca Seitz, Rachel Hauck, Dale Cramer, Catherine Palmer, Cindy Woodsmall, Ginger Garrett, and Julie Lessman.
We met with Diann Hunt over the phone and took a field trip to a bookstore to meet with Rene Gutteridge following a book signing one evening. Eric Wilson joined us for the evening too. I hope I haven’t left anyone out. It is always such a blessing to spend time with the authors and hear from them about their work and their journey.
I can’t say that there have really been any surprises; however, it has truly been amazing at the willingness of the authors to take time to meet with us. You know that old saying “rain, sleet, snow and hail, the postman will always prevail.” Guess that goes for authors too! We’ve had it all on author nights, only in George we rarely get snow; we get ice.
Since you meet at a church, are there strict guidelines you have to meet for book club selections? Are there some books that just haven’t worked for your book club? Why?
Actually, Nora, I would say the guidelines don’t have anything to do with the fact that we meet at a church, but rather because we are part of our church and an extension of it in our community. With that being said, it does bear heavily on the books we read. When selecting a book, it is important that we ensure the premise behind the book is theologically sound and goes along with our core beliefs.
This is just an excerpt of the complete interview found at Finding Hope Through Fiction at www.psalm516.blogspot.com.
Until next time.