Mennonite Women USA Board of Directors’ Challenges
By Ruth Lapp Guengerich, co-director, MW USA
Tears were already beginning to trickle down my cheeks and onto my neck, when we were asked to stand in a circle, cross our arms, and join hands with the woman on either side of us. We were encouraged to invite the ones whose hands we held to release to God any fears, worries, anxieties, frustrations, or concerns upon which we were focused.
For some of us the instructions fell away as we affirmed those next to us and laughed with awareness of the truthfulness of others’ affirmations or encouragement to release concerns. There were many “amens” as we were reminded to release to God all that was preventing us from being the person God created us to be. There were tears, laughter, and appreciation for what was said about our colleagues in this ministry.
Hyacinth Stevens, pastor from Bronx, NY and member of our board, inspired us with her telling of the story of the woman at the well (John 4:1-42), or “The Beloved Woman Behind the Mask” (Sister Care: Equipping Women for Caring Ministry). Hyacinth then challenged us: “Let us first connect with the bubbling water that is flowing forth so we can come to the table, crossing the water, crossing the barriers.”
Mennonite Women USA Board of Directors’ annual face-to-face meeting, April 3-5, 2014, provided opportunity for both reflection on God working in our lives, and on the work God has called us to do for MW USA. We came from distant places and diverse daily lives. We brought together our uniquenesses to continue the discernment for this almost 100-year-old organization, “to empower women and women’s groups to nurture their life in Christ through studying the Bible, using our gifts, hearing each other, and engaging in mission and service.”
As a board and staff we embody our mission statement: “Mennonite Women USA invites women across generations, cultures, and places to share and honor our stories, care for each other, and express our prophetic voice boldly as we seek to follow Christ.” Each one, in her own time, spoke prophetically about her work, her family, her call to serve faithfully through Mennonite Women USA and through her life as a bookkeeper, administrator, pastor, nurse, fulltime mother, and retiree.
Our nitty-gritty discussions focused on budget and specific wording of actions; our big picture discussions focused on which programs have had their day in the sun and are ready to be released, making way for new programs that will continue to challenge women in their daily walk as faithful followers of Christ. Seasoned and experienced board members celebrated the youth and energy of the newer and younger board members. Together we reviewed MW USA programs, using the “Amaryllis Barometer” created by editor Claire DeBerg.
- Are there ministries that look like a dead root in a pot?
- Are there projects that have had their time in the sun, bloomed and are finished?
- Are there tasks that need more sun, less water, different kinds of attention?
- Are there new varieties of “amaryllis” (women) we haven’t yet attended to?
- Are there programs that seem healthy and hearty but never bloom?
This amazing organization is is here to stay, if the directors and staff have anything to say about our future! And we have lots to say about our future.
As Hyacinth said, “We are women from all backgrounds who care about the well flowing out of them – we connect at that point.” What a blessing to work with this amazing group of women who are called to serve on the MW USA Board of Directors.