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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Discipleship transforms Virginia congregation ...

sending one member on 'the most exciting journey of spiritual growth and service'

After years of a "spiritually empty" life, David Poole came to Peace Lutheran Church in Charlottesville, Va., and joined a discipleship group. He said that launched him on "the most exciting journey of spiritual growth and service" he could imagine.

During 25 years of largely social involvement in two congregations, Poole said he was hungry for something but "didn't know what it might be and had no idea how to find it." That changed abruptly when he heard a member of Peace tell how his group of four met weekly to share their lives, faith and struggles.

Poole said he was "a pew warmer" until he joined a group at Peace, where members told of confusing, troubling or doubting experiences, as well as new learning, joys and understandings.

Eric Schmitz (left), Keith Hammon and
Eric Schmitz (left), Keith Hammon and David Poole participate in a discipleship group at Peace Lutheran Church, Charlottesville, Va.

Once a social worker, Poole and his wife, Ruth, have retired from a picture-framing business. Now they're both sitting down with at least two groups every week.

As caring and trust grew, Poole said two things happened: He felt "the powerful, indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit and learned to pray out loud in the presence of other people."

Deb Myers, a leader of the eight-year discipleship movement at Peace, said the groups have transformed the congregation from an inward to an increasingly outward-looking church. "It's central to everything we do," she said.


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