On Friday evening, August 9th, Roanoke Mennonite Church hosted close to 80 women of all ages for a meal and program titled “The River of Life: Faith Flowing Through the Generations.” Marian Egli, from Hopedale Mennonite Church, and President of Illinois Mennonite Women, welcomed everyone and gave an introduction to the evening. She noted in the program how planning such events has changed over the years; planting and harvest used to be the two “busy“ times of the year for many women in the Midwest. Offering an event in August was an attempt to find a less busy time before school begins and sports and other activities resume.
The women from Roanoke provided a simple and delicious meal, and then we enjoyed singing together, led by Lynn Kennell from Roanoke and Kate Kortemeier from Metamora. Shannon Unzicker from Mennonite Church of Normal gave an update on Mennonite Women USA, and encouraged women to visit the new website and take a look at the new Timbrel magazine. A copy of the books, Dive: Devotions for Deeper Living, by Cindy Massanari Breeze, or Please Pass the Faith: The Art of Spiritual Grandparenting by Elsie Rempel was given to one lucky woman at each table. These books were resources that related to the theme of our evening. We had a special time of prayer for Kim Litwiller and her extended family from Hopedale Mennonite Church. Kim was scheduled to be the worship leader for the program, but was unable to attend due to her mother’s sudden health concerns.
The speaker for the evening was Cindy Massanari Breeze from First Mennonite Church in Champaign-Urbana. Using Deuteronomy 6:4-9 as her text, she spoke about passing on our faith to our families, and the importance of both talking about what we believe with those we love, and living it out through our actions and interactions with others. She also asked four women from different stages of life to talk about their own faith development and experiences in the church. It was encouraging to hear the ways God was at work in their past, and ways they are encountering God on their journey today. Cindy talked about the challenges and belief systems young people encounter that cause many young adults to abandon their faith. She encouraged us to continue to pray for the Holy Spirit to move in the lives of those who may have fallen away from faith, or are struggling with their beliefs. It was a Spirit-filled evening with good fellowship and food, beautiful singing, and encouraging words from women of faith.