Ruth Lapp Guengerich
Illinois MW enjoyed a morning of “Honoring our Past, Inspiring our Future” on Saturday morning, October 11, at First Mennonite Church of Morton, IL. Almost 70 women met together to fellowship, worship, celebrate endings and new beginnings, to hear stories of women in action at numerous Illinois Conference MW groups, and to hear about the mission, vision and work of MW USA.
We were greeted by beautifully set tables, plus several long tables of markers, crayons, and colored pencils to decorate a paper “quilt” square. The squares were then posted on the wall, illustrating the variety of women and talents among Illinois MW.
Marian Egli (below left) was recognized and thanked for 11 years of service as president of Illinois MW, and Joann Horsch (below, right) was recognized and thanked for three years of service as treasurer. Incoming co-coordinators for Illinois MW, Shannon Unzicker and Kim Litwiller (middle, left and right) shared in the leadership for the morning meeting.
Several women shared about the women’s activities they organized in their church and/or community. Carol Cavalier, who leads a community Bible study, shared about her search for a church. She said, “I looked for a church where women could lead and I found Roanoke Mennonite Church. I went through the corn fields to find them.” At East Bend Mennonite Church, Tonya Dean organized two groups, “Moms of Grace,” (MOGS, for mothers of children up to age 18) and “Women of Grace” (WOGS). These two groups meet Wednesday evenings for Bible study and fellowship. Nancy Fisher of Mennonite Church of Normal organized a group for women to support each other as they provide care for a husband with major health changes. At Hopedale a group of single women (some widowed; some never married) formed the “Silvertones” group for support and social activities.
I had the privilege of sharing the story of Mennonite Women USA – where we have come from and where we are headed, honoring our past and looking to an inspired future, much as the Illinois Mennonite Women is as well. Each time I share the story I experience a sense of awe that women have faithfully nurtured each other, served the church, and reached out to sisters next door and around the world as we fulfill our mission and vision.
It is exciting to see younger women taking leadership in Illinois conference. I am excited about the future for them. God is good and has been good — and we trust that God will be good each step of the journey as area conference MW groups, and of course for MW USA as well.