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May 10, 2022
Ashley Deal

I used to think it was strange that East White Oak didn’t use the terminology that I was used to when referring to the OTHER hour on Sunday morning.

You know what I mean… there’s “church” and there’s “Sunday School”—the other hour… the EXTRA hour.

As a young newlywed, that extra hour at church wasn’t very appealing to me. “I’ll just go to worship, put my hour and a half in, and call it good, thanks,” I would think to myself. As time went on, though, “church only” wasn’t enough. I wanted to get to know the people I saw on a weekly basis. An East White Oak Adult Bible Fellowship (ABF) was the next logical step.

When my husband and I first attended the Fellowship 13 ABF, I thought I was joining a “Sunday School class” where a group of individuals would be led in Bible studies. But now I realize why East White Oak doesn’t call that OTHER hour “Sunday School.” They call it Adult Bible Fellowship because it truly is adults—FELLOWSHIPPING—over the Bible! We absolutely spend our Sunday mornings studying God’s Word, but we also spend a lot of time just getting to know each others’ hearts. We visit, we joke… If you get there on time, you might even get to participate in an icebreaker! Just as Proverbs 27:17 states, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another,” our class believes that surrounding yourself with Christian friends, both IN and OUT of church, will draw you nearer to God.

For the most part on Sunday mornings, couples attend together, so outside of church we enjoy splitting up into men’s nights and ladies’ nights. This usually results in “BYO Meats” BBQ nights for the men, and dinner out at a restaurant, free from cooking and cleaning, for the ladies. It’s not unusual for a group message to come through looking for strong backs for a carpentry project, or a veteran mom organizing a meal train to welcome a new baby to the family. Annually we host bonfires, Friendsgiving, and ugly Christmas sweater parties. We’ve even had a family-friendly night at the Cornbelter’s baseball stadium and have hopes of making it to a Christian concert at some point.

This amazing group of men and women have blessed my husband and me in so many ways, and have truly brought meaning to Matthew 18:20, For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.

Ashley Deal and husband, Greg, have been attending East White Oak for 10 years. Ashley serves in Summer Children’s Ministry and is the Member-Follow-Up and Record Keeper of Fellowship 13 ABF. Ashley, Greg, and their 3 young kids live on a farm in rural Danvers. Additionally, Ashley works full-time for IL Corn Marketing Board and Corn Growers Association, where she represents corn farmers throughout the state and in Washington D.C. Free time is spent trying out new recipes and visiting extended family.

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May OakLeaf Articles:

Join the Journey by Pastor Scott Boerckel
Faith Nurturing Communities by Pastor Traig Whittaker
Sunday Mornings: Strategic Discipleship by Pastor Walt Baertsch
Maturing Young Worshipers by Kris Seifert, Children’s Ministry Director
Jumping Into ABF by Mark Heil
The Fellowship in ABF by Ashley Deal
History of ABFs by Dr. Jeff VanGoethem
Crossroads ABF by Joan Rich