The “Wonderful Wise Women” group at Pine Acres Church in Weatherford, Oklahoma, began as a ministry to widows at Pine Acres and has grown since its inception in 2015 to include 24 women who are widowed or divorced from six denominations.
Known as “www.uncommon,” the group began when three recently-widowed women recognized a need for fellowship and began gathering every month for fun, food and fellowship.
Sharon Simmons is one of the initial organizers, with friends Sharon Blagg and Glenna Johns. All three were part of the same Sunday school class at Pine Acres.
“We were friends and did some other things together, and one day the newest widow said, ‘We need to get some kind of a ministry for the widows in our church. We’re a growing number,’” Simmons says. “There were about 11 of us that we knew of right away, and so we just started a fun ministry for widows, and the women love it.”
Known initially as “Wonderful Wise Widows,” the group of about a dozen women enjoyed monthly fellowship and soon began welcoming widows from other denominations.
“We started our little group, and we were enjoying ourselves so much and enjoying our programs and our activities that our friends wanted to come, too,” Simmons says. “We wanted to bring our friends, also, and so we began to be an inclusive group, not exclusive.”
Recognizing widows as an underserved part of the Pine Acres church family, the deacons volunteered to sponsor the “www.uncommon” ministry, sending out monthly mailings and event reminders. Church deacons and their wives began hosting a dinner each year for the widows. In 2019, deacons hosted a Valentine’s Day dinner for women without their “Valentine.”
The group has since changed its name to “Wonderful Wise Women” and also welcomes women who are no longer married as a result of divorce.
The group, which includes women in their 50’s to women in their 80’s, continues to grow, meeting at Pine Acres and other churches, as well as in homes.
Together, group members have participated in many activities, including a state fair night in which women brought exhibits worthy of fair entry, and a “Denim and Bling” night of country music. Other activities have included games with prizes, cheese tasting and hot cider, Mad Gab, a poetry night, a holiday cookie exchange, a Dirty Santa gift exchange, a gardening and plants swap, and an ice cream soda night, as well as meeting at local cafes for burgers and sundaes.
In June, Simmons will host a lawn party with lawn games and contests.
“I can’t accommodate the growing group in my house,” she says. “My house isn’t big enough for that, but I have a big backyard.”
Simmons says she never envisioned the group getting so large.
“Everybody knows it’s sponsored by Pine Acres Mennonite Brethren Church—but nevertheless, it’s becoming an ecumenical ministry,” she says. “I think that’s just beautiful.”