Holy Ground by Elizabeth Raid

When the speaker for our annual Western District Conference women’s luncheon, in Dallas, Texas, walked to the podium with a mask covering her face, I wondered who this mysterious woman was and how her story might relate to my life. Her Spanish words were translated into English as she shared about a childhood of sexual abuse that carried over into an abusive marriage. Troubled relationships with a son and daughter only multiplied her feelings of failure and low self-esteem. However, she continued to go to church and act as if all were well. She saw her mask as a powerful protection from her painful life experiences, keeping her secrets safe. Continue reading

Women Meet to Tell Their Sacred Stories

By Anne M. Yoder, Coordinator, EDC/FMC Sistering Committee

On March 12, 2016, over 35 women met together for a Day Apart, held at Towamencin Mennonite Church. A large group came from Centro de Alabanza de Filadelfia, a church located in South Philadelphia that is made up primarily of immigrants from Mexico, Central America, and Latin America; other attendees came from various Mennonite churches in Eastern District and Franconia Mennonite Conferences.

This gathering was a bilingual retreat that gave the opportunity to reflect on the theme “Sistering for Life.” The term “sistering” refers to a practice in carpentry in which structural repairs are made by attaching new wood beams to weak (sagging, cracked or twisted) joists to make the original stronger. All of us are strong at times and can help those who are weak; all of us find it difficult to make it on our own at times and need others to support us. Sistering is a gift that we embody as God’s women who are following Jesus throughout our lives.

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The program’s theme was fleshed out in various ways. Songs were led in Spanish and English by a team from CAF and by Dorothy Beidler. A meditation was given by Ana Rosa Hernandez on Proverbs 17:17 (“A friend loves at all times, and a [sister] is born for a time of adversity.”) and Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor; if either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.”) Four women — Linda Esh, Dania Hernandez, Ligia Canavan, and Jenny Duskey – were designated to tell a story of being sistered. From them came accounts of loss, sexual abuse, stepping into unknown territory during a move, and Continue reading

Sowing Sisterhood :: Volume 4 of Illinois Mennonite Women Quarterly

This is Volume 4 of the Illinois Mennonite Women Quarterly Newsletter Sowing Sisterhood.’ It was created and designed by Kim Litwiller and Shannon Unzicker. Kim is the Associate Conference Minister for Illinois Mennonite Conference and the Co-Coordinator for Illinois Mennonite Women. Shannon is the Great Lakes representative to the board of Mennonite Women USA.

Download the PDF of Sowing Sisterhood or read below!

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Mennonite Women USA Joins the Global #GivingTuesday Movement

We are overjoyed to join #GivingTuesday this year–a global day of giving that harnesses the collective power of individuals, communities and organizations to encourage philanthropy and to celebrate generosity worldwide.

Mennonite Women USA wants to raise $5,000 for our International Women’s Fund. Occurring this year on December 1, #GivingTuesday is held annually on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving (in the U.S.) and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday to kick-off the holiday giving season and inspire people to collaborate in improving their world and to give back in impactful ways to the charities and causes they support.

Why #GivingTuesday?

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“We Remain Committed to You, Mennonite Women” MW USA Responds to CLC Question

by Marlene Bogard, Executive Director, Mennonite Women USA

Mennonite Women USA is a constituency group of Mennonite Church USA. Basically, this means we are strongly affiliated and collaborate with the denomination, but we do not receive any funding. MW USA has its own budget, mission statement, staff and programming. The MW USA Board Chair and Executive Director are invited to the twice-yearly gatherings of the Constituency Leader’s Council (CLC) for discernment of matters pertaining to the entire denomination. Prior to the fall gathering of CLC on October 19-21, 2015, all participants were asked to respond to this question:

To what extent has the delegate assembly (decisions) at Kansas City affected your group/conference’s relationship with Mennonite Church USA?

And here is our response: Continue reading

FREE for Women 25 and Younger :: Camp Friedenswald Women’s Retreat :: 9/25-9/27

WOMEN RISING: NAMING, CLAIMING, TRANSFORMING

Bring your sisters, bring your friends. Come on your own for the peace of the woods

Come – with your brokenness, your strength, your laughter. Open to the Spirit – come….

Expect worship, fellowship, free time, workshops, recreation, time on the water and in the woods. Laura Brenneman will draw upon key scriptural imagery of trees to engage us in dialog about the meaning of authenticity, leadership, and wholeness in a broken world.

The retreat will begin Friday evening, 9/25 and close Sunday, 9/27 after lunch.

The Women’s Retreat is being planned by 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

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”.

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