Sister Care Seminar at Goshen College :: by Maddie Birky

Maddie Birky is News Editor at “The Record.” “The Record,” is published weekly at Goshen College during the Fall and Spring semesters, and is produced by student journalists on campus. The views expressed are their own. “The Record” is not the official voice of the student body, administration or the faculty of Goshen College. This piece was originally posted in “The Record” here.

This weekend [March 20-21] starting Friday from 7-9:30 and Saturday from 9-3, Carolyn Heggen and Rhoda Keener will be presenting Sister Care, a project of Mennonite Women USA, in Newcomer 19. A grant given to Keener has allowed this to be a free pilot workshop. Women from Berkey Avenue Mennonite Fellowship, Silverwood Mennonite Church, Waterford Mennonite Church and College Mennonite Church will be providing home-cooked snacks, breakfast and lunch.

“This is not a Mennonite-only event,” said Beth Martin Birky, professor of English and Women’s Gender Studies Mennonite Women USA board member. “Although they have led workshops at Mennonite-affiliated churches nationally and globally (India, Pakistan, Puerto Rico, Trinidad, Guatemala, Brazil and more), they have worked with women from a wide range of theological backgrounds and adapted it to different cultural contexts.”

At this workshop, ideas such as body image, self-worth, managing stress, making life decisions, and other topics related to college-aged women will be explored. According to Mennonite Women USA’s website, “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.”

Keener, a co-director of Mennonite Women USA since 2000 and a mental health counselor, developed this workshop with Heggen, who has a PhD in psychotherapy and is the author of Sexual Abuse in Christian Homes and Churches (2006), for women in the US. Heggen and Keener have presented this workshop in 11 different countries since its start in 2008. Other women who have participated in previous workshops have encouraged Keener and Heggen to develop this program specifically for younger women.

Birky was “really excited about their ideas for adapting their materials to younger women.” Last year, Birky helped Keener and Heggen meet with six Goshen College women to discuss and learn more about issues that are important to them.

When asked why this event is important and why women should be interested, Birky said, “to build relationships with other women [and] to recognize you’re not alone with the challenges that you might face as women today. I would love to see women building their support systems and discussing ways to improve them.”

Birky attended a Sister Care workshop a few years ago, and was “most moved by the reminder of how much love God has for all of us and how we learned ways to show God’s love to each other.”

There will be a follow-up workshop in October 2015, with the hope of expanding the workshop to other college campuses and communities.

“Women will also really benefit from [Keener and Heggen’s] input about self-care and compassionate listening,” said Birky.

Maggie Weaver, a sophomore, has created a Facebook page specifically for this event. Students can join there or email Birky here: bethmb@goshen.edu

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