In November, we had our annual Traditions Tea, where we highlighted five of our senior women. We will be posting each of their narratives during the coming weeks, in case you didn’t have the chance to attend. Many, many thanks to Evanelle Olinger who interviewed each woman and organized their stories into narratives. Also available are booklets that Women’s Ministry has put together with the stories of women who have been highlighted in the past. Contact the church office and/or Jo for more details.
Helen did not grow up in a Christian family. Even though her older brothers and sisters were baptized in the Roman Catholic Church, the great depression and it’s consequences of her father’s loss of farm and cattle caused him to loose his faith in the Catholic Church. Helen grew up without any faith, which included not attending on Christmas or Easter. When she was 8 years old, her teacher invited her to church. It was not a gospel-preaching church but she loved it and has continued to go to church since this encounter. With the event of her first communion, Helen’s understanding of salvation was that if she died on Wednesday night or Sunday morning, she would go to heaven. Otherwise, she knew her sins would keep her out. She knew something was missing from her life. At the age of 17 and three months before she graduated from high school, her father died. She knew he was a good man but she also knew that he did not go to heaven and it grieved her because she could do nothing to save him.
Helen enrolled in Eastern Montana Normal school and after two years of college went to work at Sun Oil Company, where she met her future husband. After having two sons the family transferred to Seattle, Washington where the LORD found her. As President of the Women’s Group, Helen was in charge of getting a speaker for a retreat. Helen chose a Baptist woman who gave a clear gospel message. Helen did not know that the gift of salvation was so easy. Helen had tried so hard to be good and had failed. She cried all weekend and couldn’t wait to tell her husband and mother. They both told her that being a Christian was fine for her but neither of them wanted it. This did not deter her but Helen started going to Bible studies and really growing.
In 1977 Helen’s marriage ended and she was devastated. Through work and ministry, Helen began to heal. After nine years God sent a Godly man into her life, Dennis Finley. Through the prompting from Dennis and God, they were married 27 years ago and it was the best decision God and Dennis made for her.
To have a united front for their marriage, Dennis and Helen began to attend First Free. Helen has been faithful in serving as a Deaconess preparing funeral dinners with Joy Winters. She is in charge of the Greeters and has always been a part of Tuesday Connection. Helen has served on the Leadership team of Women’s Ministries not only being a testimony to the others on the team, but also mentoring the Director of Women’s Ministries. It has also been her joy to disciple young women. She started 30 years ago with Cindy Lewis and continues with Sara Swartzendruber and Robin Willford around 16 years. A year ago she started a relationship with Brooke Krause. And although Helen did not desire it to be this way, she has been a pioneer for divorced women.
Helen’s advice to Women of First Free: Love the LORD. Live in the present – God will guide you where He wants you to go. Enjoy the journey! And Helen adds: “Today I join the ranks of the senior saints – I stand in awe of these wonderful, Godly women.”