This article by MW USA board member Hyacinth Stevens, first appeared in AAMA News: African American Mennonite Association’s spring edition of their newsletter published in March 2015.
Prior to becoming the AAMA representative on the Mennonite Women USA Board, I had very little connection with the work of the organization.
Mennonite Women USA is doing some great things! The organization is diligently working to live out its mission to empower women and women’s groups as we nurture our life in Christ through studying the Bible, using our gifts, hearing each other, and engaging in mission and service. (Adapted from the Mennonite Women USA Mission statement.)
The vision statement of Mennonite Women USA gives an invitation for diverse voices of women to be heard and celebrated. However, I realized that there are some voices missing. Over the last few years, Mennonite Women USA as an organization has been shifting its image to match its vision. This is not an organization that is fashioned for a select group of Mennonite women, rather for all Mennonite women!
The vision of the organization 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.
I would like to extend the invitation to our AAMA congregations and networks to explore some of the resources Mennonite Women USA is using to impact women on a global level. This invitation is not just to utilize resources but to contribute our voice, our hands and culture to the circle of global impact Mennonite Women USA desires to have.
We Help Make the Circle Complete! I hope you are asking the question, how do we help make the circle complete. Some ways are addressed in this article.
- The editor of Timbrel, Claire DeBerg, is always looking for stories, writers and new voices to speak to the Timbrel subscribers. The magazine comes out four times a year. Contact Claire to submit story ideas or for more information about Timbrel.
- Join Mennonite Women Voices blog (subscribe on the left), become a friend on Facebook, follow Mennonite Women on Twitter and join us on Pinterest, Google+ and YouTube.
USE ANY OF THESE RESOURCES:
- Sister Care seminars provide women with tools for ongoing personal healing, recognizing and celebrating God’s grace in their lives, and responding more confidently and effectively to the needs of others in their families, congregations, and communities.
- PREP, which stands for Preparing, Resourcing, Encouraging and Praising, is a resource gathering and networking retreat for all conference Mennonite Women leaders.
- Women in Conversation Retreats are held every two years. These retreat experiences include worship, time for prayer and reflection, challenging input, ample time to talk, laugh, cry, and even participate in the “Menno Spa.”
I have experienced some of what I envision as making the “circle complete” and share some of those experiences below.
One of the challenges for women in my context is finding another evening to be out of the house during the week or on the weekend. This past year I used Mennonite Women’s Bible study guide 2013 Courageous Women of the Bible to do a conference call-line Bible study group for women. It has been amazing! Not only have women from New York joined the line but sisters as far as North Carolina, participate in the Bible study. We have made a few adaptations with the study guide to accommodate it being done on the telephone but the material is relevant and informative.
In the fall of 2013, women gathered from as far as Virginia to New York City to retreat at Camp Deerpark, a Mennonite camp in the Catskill Mountains, for a Sister Care Seminar. The women who attended ranged in age from their 20’s to 70’s. The material was healing, resourceful, empowering and applicable. Sister Care seminars speak to the heart and soul of all who attend a seminar.
In a recent church leaders’ team building meeting that had both men and women leaders, we used a section from the Sister Care manual on healing stories versus toxic stories to facilitate sharing our stories. The activity was healing and transformative for both the men and women in the group.
I hope from these examples you are able to envision engagement with Mennonite Women USA.
Visit Mennonite Women USA’s website for more resources, updates and information on Mennonite Women USA.
Hyacinth Stevens serves as the AAMA Representative on the Mennonite Woman USA board. She is Co- Pastor of King of Glory Tabernacle in the Bronx, New York. She also works with Mennonite Central Committee as New York Program Coordinator. Hyacinth is a wife and mother.