Since you like these ladies, invite them over to your home and keep in touch with them that way. Or start your own playgroup. That's what I would do. (and have done)
POD. I guess I don't understand why someone who has no interest in that specific religion would go to a church of that religion for playgroups. Is there a secular community center where you can meet?
Well, I do--because finding space for something like that can be hard. And many churches let outside organizations borrow their space--it's a way of giving back to the community, serving as our Lord has told us to, and creating goodwill with people who might then start to be more linked to our community, and maybe even come to faith or join us (if they don't).
My church does this--loaning out our space. But we don't hold a bible study in the middle of the dance troop's time.
I think the fact that there's not a clear leader anymore might have fed into this.
And maybe this lady got the idea started, but didn't get a chance to wave the pastor off.
Maybe you guys should do a little more to codify what sort of group you are (draw up a constitution, elect a president, empower that person to re-negotiate the use of the space). Right now the church may feel that you're sort of an offshoot of them, that this is *their* playgroup. Especially if they had some people who are members.
Creating more organization might help create that distinction.
(though, if I were a member, I'd probably prefer to just play that day anyway--we have Sunday school and church, so Bible story time would seem extraneous.)