The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Write ... and hear this!

Members of a writing group want to leave 'more than a tombstone'

For nearly two hours on a spring afternoon, the eight sat in a circle clinging to one another’s words.

There was no shortage of smiles, nods and laughter. But there were also more tears than usual. “I think this was our best meeting ever,” said Audrey McGarvie as she put on her coat to leave.

Audrey and her husband, Norm, are part of this small group from Ascension Lutheran Church, Waukesha, Wis., near Milwaukee. The congregation has some 40 small groups—Bible study, support and those that appeal to special interests such as hiking, biking and scrapbooking. Member Jo Buth thought there should be a writing group and put a note in the church newsletter for those “wanting to write their memoirs or who just love to write.”

Norm McGarvie reads his most recent story to the members of Ascension Lutheran Church's writers' group.
“Life is changing so fast that I want my grandchildren to know how it was when I was young,” Buth explained. “Just leaving a tombstone isn’t enough. So I’ve written about growing up on a Wisconsin dairy farm in the 1930s and 1940s. How we did the butchering, threshing and haying. How we took care of the cows, what a one-room school was like.”

JoAnne Simon was the first to respond to what is simply called “the writers’ group.” Three years later, as many as 10 gather the fourth Monday of every month to read what they have written. Some of them have spent hours during the past month writing. Others, like Simon, cranked something out the night before.

Six in the group are women, four are men—three of them are 82 years old. They write about everything from war memories to the kitchen table. The youngest member, Jody Leach, writes poetry. Ironically, she’s the only one who writes in longhand. The others, all retired, huddle at their computers and communicate with one another via e-mail.

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February issue


Embracing diversity