Who shines the light?

Growing up, I understood what it meant to be a Mennonite woman from the generations of Mennonite women I come from. Being a Mennonite woman was the simplicity of my grandmother’s family recipes such as “stewed crackers,”surprisingly delicious soggy saltine crackers with browned butter. It meant gathering with my mother, grandmother, sister, cousins and aunts to freeze corn and can peaches, pears and applesauce (Note also that many of the male family members also helped out on these occasions, something that I’m not so sure happened in previous generations). Being a Mennonite woman meant listening to the stories my paternal grandmother told, always pointing out the many connections between families and friends. It meant hearing stories of my maternal grandmother, so concerned about making sure guests felt welcomed into her home she often let the cooking corn burn. Continue reading

Q&A with Anna Liechty Sawatzky, author of the 2017 Bible Study Guide

Interested in materials for fall study? Click here to purchase the 2017 Bible Study Guide Live Your Call, written by Anna Liechty Sawatzky.

How did you, working full-time and the mother of four active sons, make time to write Live Your Call?

A lot of my writing and thinking was done in dribs and drabs, here and there. I do a lot of driving for my job so early in the writing process I got John’s Gospel on CD from the library.I listened to that while I was driving and contemplating the theme of mission. After I had selected scriptures and themes, I worked on one text at a time, reading it over and over and then pondering it while driving. The devoted time I spent sitting down to work was much less than the time I spent writing in my head. I find that this is how I work best anyway. I like to work on something for a little while and then give it time to percolate. When I come back to it, thoughts have formed more clearly in my mind. Toward the end of my writing time, I had to have some more devoted time to sit down and write.

What is your experience with Bible study guides?

I don’t have a lot of experience specifically with Bible study guides. What inspired me more was conversations, talks, books, and articles over the years that have given me what I call a “clarifying concept”. I love it when someone gives me a framework or a concept to understand something. A very important example is the one I use in the BSG, the concept of mission as “ministry in the dimension of difference.” The author, Titus Presler, gave me words to understand something and un-muddied the waters for me. I have had many other similar experiences over the years, sometimes in unexpected places. It was this sense of clarity with deep study of scripture that I wanted to bring to the guide. Continue reading

The Joy of the Purple Ribbon

Kathy Bilderback, board chair for Mennonite Women USA, reflects on Mennonite Church USA Conference 2017 in Orlando.

As I walked from hotel to classroom to booth to ballroom and exhibit or meal hall, I observed others. I smiled to strangers, hugged friends I hadn’t seen in a while, and walked alongside new friends. But it was the ribbons on nametags that I kept noticing. The sight played out in my mind, “oh, that person is an Executive Board Member, that woman is a Mennonite college alum, and look there is another purple Mennonite Women USA ribbon.” Continue reading

Women grow the fruit of persistence on the vine of Christ

This article was originally written for Mennonite World Review in July 2017.

By Laurie Oswald Robinson

ORLANDO, Fla. – In the late 1890s, as Mennonite historian John Ruth tells it, a teacher once asked a local Sunday school boy a leading theological question: “Who can do anything?”

“Mary Mellinger,” the boy replied.

Mellinger organized one of the earliest recorded gatherings for mission and service in the late 1890s for Mennonite women in America. Continue reading