Mid-Week Boost - Ron & Mary-Ellen's Story

It is obvious when you first begin to talk to Ron and Mary-Ellen Dolbier that they enjoy their small group at Ventura Missionary Church. A few years back, Ron heard Marci Worthy talking from the front on a Sunday morning about how meaningful it is to be part of a group. After the service, he approached the Groups Table in the lobby to talk to Marci about taking that step. To his surprise, Marci asked if he might like to lead a group, and in true Ron-fashion, he said, “I can try that.” And he has been facilitating a group ever since.

Mary-Ellen is a fitting partner for team Dolbier. She handles all the details for the group. But the couple also shares the responsibilities with others, too. Over time, Dave and Jan Schmutte have become co-facilitators, while others like to bring various snacks to share.

Lively conversation fills the weekly gatherings, as they share life together. Ron enjoys hearing about the trips the group members take – the wide variety of places they go and unique things they do and see are so fun to hear about.

Mary-Ellen says that one of the biggest values of the group experience is getting to know each other on a deeper level. They rejoice together about the good things, but they also learn about the challenges their friends are facing. They pray for each other and consistently check back to see how things are going.

Another meaningful benefit has been to learn the history and stories of each of the group members. Some of the participants have roots and experiences in other countries that define how they view current events in the news. Hearing from these members broadens the understanding of those who haven’t had these kinds of experiences. And it’s inspiring to see what God has accomplished over the years in each individual on their own unique faith journey.

God is also impacting hearts through His Word within the group. Ron says the different perspectives that are shared are often things he hadn’t thought of. Walking through the discussion questions each week is one of his favorite parts of being in the group. He says that some are quieter than others, but everybody contributes to the conversation. And it is really special to have a front row seat when people light up about what God is doing in their lives.

The group isn’t only concerned about their own needs and prayer requests. They periodically do projects to minister to those in the community. One time they were given the names and ages of kids in our local school district who were in need, and they enjoyed choosing and providing some clothes for these children. They have also collected items for Gabriel’s House, a transitional home in Oxnard.

Elizabeth Sylvester, Groups Coordinator at Ventura Missionary loves working with the Dolbier’s. She appreciates their consistent willingness to try new things. She is also impressed by their faithfulness. The group was unable to meet during COVID, and when it re-launched, very few came back at first. (Ron and Mary-Ellen laughingly share that one week it was just the two of them.) But Ron and Mary-Ellen persevered, invited new members to join and welcomed back others. They participated in leadership training through Ventura Missionary’s “Elevate” events and invited their new co-leaders, the Schmutte’s, to join them. Now 26 people are becoming close friends (Maybe it isn’t really a “small” group anymore!), and the group is thriving again.

Ron says that gathering with this group of people is his “mid-week boost.” Maybe that’s why when asked each time a new study at the church comes along, “Would you like to continue?” Ron says, “We can do that!”

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