In the fall of 1988, seven couples participated in the New Members Class at Asbury UMC. Asking probing questions of the staff and finding that they enjoyed discussing a variety of subjects, they decided to start their own adult Sunday School class. Twenty years later their numbers have increased to about three dozen.
The founding members included Tari and John Carnahan, Robin and Ken Fitch, Sarah Fernsler and Bill LeBeouf, Karen and Hershel Dorney, and three other couples who have since left the area. Their first task was to choose a name, and after much discussion, they settled on ‘Chrysalis.’ In biological terms, it is the stage of transition to a butterfly. Metaphorically, it denotes an individual’s spiritual path on the way to "becoming."
Chrysalis revolves around four words: faith, fellowship, friendship and food. Our faith is clearly seen and heard in the discussion and laughter shared by members. Each Sunday you’ll find a class member teaching (usually with handouts) one of the 20-30 topics on the class schedule. Eighty percent of the members have led a class in the past three years. In a class that enjoys discussion as much as Chrysalis, teaching can be like herding cats, but on the other hand, it only takes one good question to occupy the class hour.
Chrysalis meets year around and builds its program schedule from members’ ideas. In May we enjoy a programming brunch and brainstorm ideas for the coming year. These ideas are put on a ballot and the class votes for their favorites. These ideas come from a variety of topic areas such as: religion, social, history, the arts, books and spirituality. Class members take responsibility for the diverse topics selected, and either present them or bring in guest speakers, such as Pastor Mindy or Lloyd Steffen, the chaplain at Lehigh University.
Fellowship is a big part of Chrysalis. A visitor might be confused about when the Sunday School hour starts and ends. Members arrive early and remain late, having conversations that are accompanied by food, since snacks, coffee, and tea are a must for this group. Our yearly brainstorming brunch is a feast that happens to include a little idea generation; and our social events also seem to revolve around shared meals.
Friendship is one of the keys needed for a Sunday School class to keep going for more than a 20 years. While class members share a spiritual journey on Sunday morning, we also share key friendships within the class that are reinforced with a busy social schedule that includes 6-8 class events during the year. Some of these events include Super Bowl and Fourth of July parties, Whine and Cheese night, swimming and dinner parties, after church brunch, an occasional college play and our annual Murder Mystery.
Chrysalis is a very important small group to its members, but these members also play important parts in the larger church and society. Some of our favorite class activities include: supporting needy families during Christmas, building a fancy golf hole for the indoor mini-golf course, church work day, and decorating trees at Hanging of the Greens. We have leaders in the Worship and Christian Spiritual fellowship ministry areas, youth team members, choir and bell ringers, West Virginia work trip members, UMW leaders, Scouting leaders, and members who participate in other small groups in the church.
Chrysalis is happy to have celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2008 and looks forward to more lively discussions, good snacks and coffee, and the fellowship of good friends. So, if you are on a spiritual journey, and the pictures above don't scare you away, we welcome you to come and join us for some faith, fellowship and friendship - and food!
You can also stop by our facebook page (here) to write on the wall, or start a discussion of your own.