616.531.1840
Miriam Lofquist, Editor
PO Box 810
Grandville , MI  49468
Starting a Local CHERA Group
There are many churches that are interested in starting up a Chera Fellowship group for those widows and widowers in their church, community or area.  Here is some ideas you may be able to use to start a Chera Fellowship group:

How to Start a CHERA Fellowship Group 
By Carol Gregory 

As a pastor's wife who greeted people each Sunday morning, I became aware of some precious ladies
who stood in line at the door each Sunday to get their hug.  These dear ladies were all widows, living alone and in need of encouragement.  Being deeply burdened about what we should do more for them, I invited them all to our home for dinner.  The first CHERA Fellowship started that night.  They continued to meet monthly for birthday dinners, vacations and day trips together, and special parties at Thanksgiving, Christmas and Valentine's Day.  When the group needed a name, someone suggested the Greek word “chera” - which means one who has lost a mate.  To this day the CHERA Fellowship group still meets together and has adopted the project of financially supporting a missionary.

Getting Started
Ruth Gray shares that in her church the widows/ers enjoy eating out together.  When she was a pastor’s wife she organized a lunch at the church once each month.  There were decorations and a special program.  The teens would help with serving the lunch.  The programs at these luncheons often involved practical instruction along with spiritual encouragement.  Some of the programs were about:  home safety (from a police officer), financial planning ideas (from an investment counselor), wills/trusts (from a lawyer), health issues (from a doctor), diet/exercise (from a nutritionist).  Their spiritual encouragement would come from missionaries home on furlough who would share their stories of God’s grace.  Extra special times were also planned at Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas and non-church friends were invited.  They went together on bus trips to interesting areas in Michigan and around Chicago .  They even had lunch on a boat on Lake Geneva .  

Now Ruth herself is a widow and continues to encourage others with a new group of widows called “The Caring Connection.Com”  She desires to reach out to help those coping with grief, loss and loneliness.  They have a Fifth Sunday Evning time together called “FACT” – Fellowship After Church Tonight” that includes book discussions, craft sessions and just enjoying fellowship with each other.  They have prayer partners and visit new widows in the area.  Ruth says “I look for ways to encourage other widows now that I know how that feels.  This helps give my life meaning and ministers to me as much as to them.”

Someone Ought to Help the Widows
This was my first thought as I looked over the congregation one Sunday.  Then on a September day in 1999, I became one of them.  It took me six months sitting in church as a widow to remember my words and realize that the “someone” God wanted to use was ME!
 
I organized a meeting for all the widows at our church.  Many were anxious to speak of their husband and the experiences they were having as widows.  This helped to continue the healing that they needed.  We also decided to have a name for our group:
 
NAOMI: Never Alone Offering Ministry Instead.

We sponsored a retreat day and called it “Widows Day Away.”  We brought in a widow as our speaker and spent the entire day with two sessions with our speaker, special music, drama, information seminars, and sharing times. Those attending were all ages and widows for varying lengths of time.

If you are interested in getting some helpful advice and pointers about starting a local CHERA group, please contact us today (miriam@ifca.org)!  We'd like to offer some helpful encouragement!