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. Continue reading

Danile Martens on Food Justice :: Timbrel Spring 2015

20150314_140422Danile Martens lives and works in Mishawaka, Indiana.  She is married to John Martens.   She spent 4 years with her family in Cambodia with MCC working in provincial health services.  She is an active member of Kern Road Mennonite Church.  For fascinating reading on sustainable farming practice and theology of creation care she recommends the work of Gene Logsden,  Joel Salatin, and Ellen Davis.

It is winter and a pristine white snowfall flocks on branches, and gathers in swales, covering the pasture in white under a brilliant blue sky.  Soon spring will bring a green flush of grasses and clover, and the calves and their old dams will kick up their heels in anticipation and delight as they move to new pasture.  For now I enjoy the quiet of the morning, watching the dance of cardinals, finches, sparrows and juncoes around  the feeder.  Winter’s comparative leisure contrasts to the months of the growing season, May to October, when work lasts until dark most days. I have learned to accept the long spring and summer working days, at the end of which we have time only to eat, clean up, and fall into bed. We do not live by the clock, but by the rhythm of the seasons.  I find order and beauty in working with the cycles of nature but it is out of step with modern life.

Continue reading

Janie Beck Kreider on Food Justice :: Timbrel Spring 2015

Janie Beck Kreider is the Associate Coordinator of Public Programs at Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center. She is also on staff with the Mennonite Creation Care Network and is part of the Mennonite Church USA communications team. She graduated from Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in 2012 with a Master of Divinity degree. Janie lives with her husband Luke in Charlottesville, Virginia and attends Charlottesville Mennonite Church. She enjoys leading retreats, planning worship, hiking and camping, music, cooking, traveling, and spending time with friends and family.

Last month I led a women’s retreat on spirituality and the environment. This was the third retreat I’ve organized since joining the staff at Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center, and they have all somehow incorporated things I love dearly: singing and worshiping with other women, hiking at night in the snow, sharing delicious and thoughtfully prepared food, and reflecting on stories from the Bible and from our lives.

An important part of the retreat each year is to practice paying attention to the non-human elements in the world around us and in the biblical texts we study together. Following this theme, I led a workshop on prayer practices, including lectio divina, a slow, contemplative praying of scripture. In a small group we prayed excerpts from the long and beautiful Psalm 104:

O LORD, how manifold are your works!

In wisdom you have made them all;

The earth is full of your creatures.

You cause the grass to grow for the cattle,

And plants for people to use,

To bring forth food from the earth,

And wine to gladden the human heart,

Oil to make the face shine,

And bread to strengthen the human heart…. 

After praying together, we reflected on how the Spirit had moved in us. One woman shared that bread was the thing that struck her the most throughout our praying, that recently she had been reading about the health benefits of eating a gluten-free diet, and that recent studies have shown that wheat is difficult for the body to digest.

She had tears in her eyes as she reflected on how disorienting and even painful considering this dietary shift has been for her, because of how deeply bread is connected with her spirituality and the myriad ways bread is connected with the story of God’s people as a nourishing substance. Continue reading

Laura Bowman on Food Justice :: Timbrel Spring 2015

Laura Alysse Bowman is currently serving in Kathmandu, Nepal with MCC as the Mental Health Transit Home Activities Coordinator. She grew up in Archbold, Ohio, where she attended Zion Mennonite Church. In 2014, she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Eastern Mennonite University. There she was involved with activities concerning women’s rights, mental well-being, and the environment. Laura likes to spend her time in nature, dancing, enjoying good food, and connecting with friends and family.

I sat in the sunlight, sipping a cup of Nepali tea. Overwhelmed with the day’s work, I appreciated this moment to sit and take it all in. I watched a woman, whose son was tugging on my coat, wander around the yard of the Transit Home, crying to herself. She had been in living in psychosis for a few weeks now, and no one had been able to talk to her without her repeating the same sentence over and over again. Months of living on the street, struggling to keep herself and her son alive, had made her confused and angry.

This sort of behavior is common in the work I do in Nepal. I volunteer with Koshish, an organization that rescues women with mental illness who are often abandoned on the streets or locked up in their homes. The women who are rescued spend some time at the Transit Home where they receive treatment and care and are then reintegrated back with their families or communities. I often see cases that make me want to close my eyes, bury my head, and forget that the horrible stories I hear actually happen. Continue reading

We Help Make the Circle Complete :: Hyacinth Stevens on MW USA

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. Continue reading

It’s Not Me…Or Is It? :: by Shannon Unzicker

Women_gatheringShannon Musselman Unzicker (pictured on left), Benson, IL, is an active member of the Mennonite Church of Normal where she presently serves on the Creation Care Committee. She teaches a primary Sunday school class and participates in the local Moms in Touch. A social worker, Shannon is presently a fulltime mother of four children.

About five years ago, the mother of one of my son’s classmates invited me to join a prayer group that was being formed for our elementary school.  She explained that she would be one of the group leaders, and that the group of mothers would be meeting two mornings per month in her home to pray for our children, their teachers and the other students.

I was flattered that she had asked me, and thanked her for the invitation. I told her I would let her know in a week or so, but in my head, I was already thinking, “Nice of her to invite me, but I just don’t know if that’s ‘me.’ I will probably have to pray out loud in front of a group…not something I am very comfortable with.” Continue reading

Picture Gallery of the Franconia Conference / Eastern District Women’s Gathering

written and compiled by Doris Diener

Saturday morning, March 7, approximately fifty women joined together at Nueva Vida Norristown to “set the day apart” for worship, learning, and fellowship. The theme of the day was “Shattering Our Mirrors”–releasing the false image we see and embracing the image God sees when our Creator looks at us.

Sandra Dresher-Lehman shared that God’s creativity in His creation of women may not always fit the mold the community has prepared for us and encouraged each to be authentic followers of Jesus. Christine Waanders challenged each to own her personality and to see positive possibilities in what may be considered our down-sides. Continue reading

Postcard & a Prayer :: March Email Newsletter

Enjoy March e-news from Mennonite Women USA!

It is an easy way to get all the latest information, reflections and images that cover all our national and international happenings from our Sister Care seminars to our upcoming Timbrel coverage and giving tree. We also include a pertinent prayer, excerpts from women in the greater church and content relevant to Mennonite women everywhere.

Sign-up today, stay connected each month!

MW USA March Email 2015

Kitchen Table :: March 2015

by Pam Risser

“In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan, Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone.”

These cold, frosty days of winter bring to mind the opening lines of the Christmas carol by Christina Georgina Rossetti, “In the Bleak Mid-winter”.  As the woodstove struggles to heat the air in the room around me while the wind howls outside my window and the temperature drops, I am led to think about those times when it has also felt like winter in my heart.  In the bleakness of my perceived circumstances, my spirit moans within me and my heart is heavy as stone.  Mystics refer to this as “the dark night of the soul”.

Continue reading