A Closer Look into the Life-Changing Solid Rock’s Call to Discipleship Women’s Study
By Ashley Daniels
It turns out that the disciples aren’t “just 12 guys following Jesus.”
It’s a quip once said by Erilynne Barnum, founder of call2disciple, who, in 1977, was asked by a few women, “Will you disciple me?”
More than 40 years later, the legacy of Barnum, who was an ordained Anglican deacon for 27 years, lives on in the hearts of women who have also heard the call to become a disciple through her Call to Discipleship women’s study offered in churches across the country, including right here at Solid Rock.
Barnum passed away on August 6, 2020, with a celebration of her life held at All Saint’s Church in Pawleys Island.
“In 2000, I had the privilege of going through this very same discipleship course, says Linda Phillips. “It’s a two-year course held once a week.”
Phillips currently leads the Call to Discipleship women’s study at Solid Rock with three others: Tricia Ross, Mary Heflin, and Kim Shabarekh.
“I just thought it was such a powerful teaching for everyone, but particularly for women,” says Phillips, who says she had also taken the course with her husband in the past. “It just transformed who I was in Christ and who I never even dreamed that I could be. I didn’t know that He could change me from who I was then to who I am now.
“So it just started me on a journey, and, in the course of that journey, I realized that women need this,” she continues. “We need each other, and we need Christ, and we need this depth of knowledge and how God sees us. … That we can be in a relationship with Him, with all of our flaws and all of our sins, and we can still come into his presence.”
Phillips shares that Barnum, most likely, also never dreamed that this Call to Discipleship course would take off like it did among women. When she came to Myrtle Beach to work at a church 25 years later after that original request to disciple a few women, the course exploded from 200 women enrolled the first year to double that the next year. This is after Barnum created the format in place today because she realized there was a waiting list to get into one of her study groups.
“And she said, ‘How could God possibly want there to be a waiting list to study His word?’” says Phillips.
Although the course is not necessarily gender-specific, Phillips says God put it on her heart to reach out to women.
“I guess because I don’t feel that my life would have as much impact on men, because as a woman, I’ve gone through different things in life as a mother, as a wife, as a daughter, so that’s who I can teach,” says Phillips. “It’s me and my journey and what God’s done. And thank God he didn’t leave me where I was and He’s not going to leave me where I am today.”
Phillips, originally from Charlotte, has lived here in Myrtle Beach for the last 34 years. She and her husband first began attending Solid Rock on Easter Sunday 2014, after friends extended an invitation to join them.
“I don’t know how to convey it other than to say that we had a lot of loss in our family and friends over several years that were fairly close together, and we realized that we did not have relationships within our church,” she says. “My husband said, ‘If something happens to one of us who’s going to preach at our funeral?’ And I said, ‘We should probably start figuring that out.’ … The first time we were here, we knew we were home. We just knew this was where we needed to be.”
Phillips says the prelude to the churchwide women’s discipleship class initially began with her, Ross, Heflin, and Shabarekh meeting at Panera Bread on many an afternoon to study a book of the Bible.
“And then the discussion started that we need to be able to include more people,” says Phillips. “The four of us were vested in it happening at Solid Rock.”
Today, the class has 22 women enrolled in two groups for the two-year session, and they meet weekly in between the short group seasons – with summers off.
“I love taking the Discipleship class,” says Dianne Burkholder, a member of Solid Rock who has taken 23 classes so far. “Linda inspires me to delve into the Bible to show us all that we can become a disciple of Christ.”
“We all have our strengths and weaknesses,” says Phillips of her co-leaders. “Trish is the administrator, Kim is an amazing encourager and it’s really easy for her to build good relationships quickly, and Mary Helin is a giant in her knowledge. If you can’t remember somebody’s name in the Old Testament, she can fire it off just like that. So we make a good little group. Through the four of us, God is doing amazing things … Everyone knows it’s a safe place here.”
Another ongoing theme that surfaces within the feedback from students, Phillips says, is that, “I had no idea.”
“I think that most of us stumble through life and don’t have a clue what God thinks about us, other than we’re probably messing up,” she says. “When He’s looking at us with his arms folded, going, ‘Oh, come on!’ …And we don’t have any idea that, that never crosses his mind.”
If any Solid Rock ladies are interested in joining the Call to Discipleship women’s study, call 843-251-1784 for more information.