Mennonite Women USA Hires New Communications Manager

Mennonite Women USA, a constituency group of Mennonite Church USA, is pleased to announce that Dawn Araujo-Hawkins of Kansas City, Missouri, has been appointed communications manager, following the resignation of Claire DeBerg.

Araujo-Hawkins, a member of Rainbow Mennonite Church in Kansas City, Kansas, has a degree in magazine journalism from Ball State University and a master’s in religion from Cincinnati Christian University. She has worked as a religion journalist since 2010, freelancing for a variety of publications and most recently serving as a staff writer for the Global Sisters Report — a special project of the National Catholic Reporter.

In 2015, Araujo-Hawkins was named a Handa Fellow in Interreligious Communication, and in June 2016, she won the American Academy of Religion’s award for best in-depth newswriting on religion. She is a member of the Religion News Association and the International Association of Religion Journalists.

Araujo-Hawkins comes to MW USA with a strong desire to promote women’s voices within Mennonite communities.

“I am a fan of women’s ministries, regardless of church or denomination,” she said. “However, as my personal faith journey has led me to Mennonite Church USA, I have felt increasingly called to serve with an Anabaptist organization and publication.”

Araujo-Hawkins will assume the role of communications manager on July 18, 2016.

Our “Faith Travels” Bible Study Guide Author, Marlene Kropf published on MC USA

This year’s Bible study guide from Mennonite Women USA Faith Travels was written by Marlene Kropf. We’re thrilled to see her featured on the Mennonite Church USA’s Menno Snapshots blogs with her piece “Pilgrimage in Any Season” originally published here.

In spring, Chaucer wrote, “folk long to go on pilgrimages.” Nowadays, the desire to go on a pilgrimage might erupt in any season of the year. Ironically, as church attendance continues to decline in the West, the number of people – Christian and otherwise – who go on pilgrimages continues to increase.

Ancient Irish Christians understood that to go on a pilgrimage was “to seek the place of one’s resurrection.” Pilgrimage was an embodied prayer, an engagement of the entire person – body, mind, heart and spirit. Wherever they traveled, pilgrims opened themselves to the movement and direction of God’s Spirit, seeking transformation into Christlikeness.

Recently someone pointed out to me that a pilgrimage has six identifiable stages:

  1. An initial yearning or longing invites us to a particular place or experience.
  2. Then comes preparation for the journey: reading, prayer and discernment, conversation with other pilgrims, checking out websites and deciding what to take along.
  3. We establish an itinerary for our journey: where we will travel, when, with whom and why.
  4. As the journey begins, we eagerly anticipate our arrival, even though we must first endure leaving behind what is known and familiar in order to enter the promised future.
  5. The sacred experience includes the events, encounters and solitude of the journey in which God’s call to new life is made known to us.
  6. At last, we return to our homes – refreshed, transformed and sometimes chastened by all we’ve experienced. Re-entering our familiar lives, we seek to integrate new images and learnings into our call to daily discipleship.

We need not travel far to reap the spiritual fruits of pilgrimage. Favorite places of spiritual pilgrimage today include the Camino in Spain; Celtic sites in Scotland, England and Ireland; the Holy Land; Assisi or Rome; early Anabaptist centers in Switzerland and Holland; or contemporary American settings connected with historical events such as the Civil Rights movement or the forced migration of Native Americans on the Trail of Tears. New pilgrim paths emerge as the desire to encounter these sacred stories continues to grow. For example, in Ireland one can literally walk across the land in the path of Saint Brigid or Saint Patrick. In Scotland and England one can walk on the path of Saint Columba, Saint Cuthbert or on the Canterbury Trail. As people listen deeply to stories of the past, they discern in fresh ways how God’s Spirit is calling us to live today.

Choosing to bike or walk on a Sunday morning to our place of worship can be a spiritual pilgrimage as we pass through familiar or unfamiliar neighborhoods, listening intentionally to the voice of God’s Spirit along the way.

Perhaps one of the richest benefits of pilgrimage is new relationships: encounters with strangers or deepened communion with fellow pilgrims. Praying together morning and night, sharing meals, enduring the rigors of travel and reflecting together on both the inner and outer journeys bonds people and strengthens their faith. They catch a vision of what ordinary church life might be like if the same practices were engaged at home.

Perhaps spiritual pilgrimages can be a key to spiritual renewal in our time.

Just as other spiritual practices in the past called the church to greater faithfulness, it may be that the embodied prayer of pilgrimage is one way the Spirit is working to transform the church today.

If the Spirit is calling you to go on pilgrimage, listen well!

Summer Timbrel :: Education + Miseducation :: You Are Not a Leader Until You Have Produced Another Leader Who Can Produce Another Leader

by Pamela Obonde

Pamela is a wife, mother and community worker who holds a BA in Public Adminstration and Psychology from Marathwada University, India. Pamela is a born again Christian with a passion for women’s and girls’ empowerment. She continues to exercise her passion and calling through a local NGO- Angolo Community Development Centre.  Her work has seen her traverse the vast countryside to reach and work with girls and women both in the remote rural villages and in the urban slums. Pamela is an active member of Family Celebration Church, a local Mennonite congregation which is pastored by her husband, Pastor Patrick Obonde.

I am the third born child of the nine children in my family, six girls and three boys. My mother, being a daughter to a church Pastor, appreciated the importance of education and she vowed her children would get an education despite all the odds that stood in her way. In my culture boys are more sought after to cement any marriage so it was “bad luck” for my mother who gave birth to six daughters in a row. She was ostracized; therefore she moved out of the home away from the ridicule and name-calling from my grandmother and other women in the village.God eventually blessed her with three sons. My parents who were peasant farmers struggled to send all their nine children to school. I was privileged to earn a college degree out of the sacrifice  and pulling together of the community of believers who saw my interest and dedication to learning.

I have been and still am a crusader of girl-child and women empowerment in my community, church and the country as a whole. I am a member of the Alliance of Children’s Rights in Kenya and the Right to Play caucus. I sit on these committees that give an advisory role to the Ministry of Education.

The typical day of a school-going orphaned girl-child in my village (who lives with her grandmother) starts at 4:00 am when the girl has to wake up and take care of the needs of the day like fetching water for her grandmother about 3 kilometers away, come and cook porridge (if there is flour), sweep the homestead and then off to school. Continue reading

Summer Timbrel :: Education + Miseducation :: The Problems of the Urban Poor Are Everybody’s Problems :: Ellie Roscher

This is an excerpt from Ellie Roscher’s forthcoming book Slowly by Slowly, Spring 2017, Viva Editions, which chronicles a girls school started by Abdul in Kibera, a slum in Kenya.

Ellie Roscher is the Director of Youth and Story Development at Bethlehem Lutheran Church Twin Cities. Author of How Coffee Saved My Life and forthcoming Slowly by Slowly, she is also an editor, blogger, speaker and teacher. Ellie earned her MA in Theology from Luther Seminary and her MFA in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College. She lives in Minneapolis with her spouse and son, and you can find more of her work at ellieroscher.com.

 

If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together.

–African Proverb

When Asha’s father, Jaffar, was ten years old, his grandmother made him promise to name his first daughter after her. He lived up to his promise. Asha’s great-grandmother was a stern, independent woman who never had a husband. She didn’t give into societal pressure to marry, and instead raised her children and grandchildren on her own. Asha’s dad tells her she looks like her great-grandmother. “I even share some of her mannerisms and habits,” Asha said. “Like I caught her spirit. I am proud to be her namesake.”

Asha’s mother, Zubeda, was born in Uganda, the granddaughter of a parliament member. At age ten, she was forced to come to Kenya as a refugee during the Idi Amin era. Zubeda’s mother was very educated, but lost all her documents in the war and could not prove her status in Kenya. They lived in a tent provided by the UN in a refugee camp on the border of Uganda and Kenya for a few years where Khadijah taught her daughter Zubeda to plait hair and cook samosas to make money. Zubeda stopped going to school in the eighth grade. Khadijah opened a restaurant while her husband worked as a driver for the Saudi Arabian embassy. They sent Zubeda to Kibera to stay with relatives. There she met Jaffar and has stayed with him ever since. She never went back to school, but Asha remembers thinking her mother was very smart because she spoke English.

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Asha asked, “Why did you leave school in the eighth grade?”

Zubeda said, “I don’t like talking about my past. Maybe you will look down on me because I am not educated.”

The war was hard on Asha’s mother. Zubeda says the sounds of bombs and gunshots are still in her head thirty years later. Asha worries about her.

“The life she lived, I understand,” Asha said. “She didn’t go to school. She was so young when she married my dad and had me. I think I trapped her in a life she didn’t want.”

 

Asha’s family, like many families in Kibera, did not have a toilet. Continue reading

Summer Timbrel :: Education + Miseducation :: Former MW USA Board Member Regina Shands Stoltzfus Wins Spirit of Justice Award

This article originally appeared on the Goshen College news blog.

Regina Shands Stoltzfus, assistant professor of peace, justice and conflict studies at Goshen College, has been awarded the 2016 Spirit of Justice Award by the State of Indiana Civil Rights Commission (ICRC).

The Spirit of Justice Award is the ICRC’s highest honor. The award was created to recognize Hoosiers, who inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream, have devoted their personal and professional efforts to creating social justice in the State of Indiana.

Shands Stoltzfus will be honored at the 25th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Indiana Holiday Celebration on Thursday, Jan. 14, at the Indiana Statehouse, as well as at Goshen College during MLK Day celebrations on Monday, Jan. 18.

“I am grateful for the affirmation of work that I have long felt called to,” Shands Stoltzfus said. “I am even more grateful, however, for the many mentors and co-laborers I have in my friends, colleagues, family members and of course, my students. We are in this together – no one does it alone.”

Continue reading