by Anita Hooley Yoder
Let’s start with some numbers. Since I began this project last September, I have sorted through 29 binders and folders of material from Mennonite Women USA’s previous co-directors. I have read (or at least skimmed) nine books and 15 scholarly articles. I have spent 43 hours in archives and historical libraries and surveyed 40 years of Voice, Window to Mission, and Timbrel magazines. I learned that “two cents a prayer” became a $95,717 Missionary Pension Fund, that over 200 families served by Mennonite Disaster Service have received quilted wall hangings, and that the International Women’s Fund has supported the studies of 86 different women.
But this project is not really about numbers. It’s about people. Continue reading
MW USA’s primary guideline is to use the Missionary Pension Fund interest to meet needs of missionaries not available through mission resource funds. This is keeping with our understanding of the original intention of the Missionary Pension Fund donors when they assisted missionaries with retirement needs, something not available at that time from mission agencies.
At the February 20-21, 2004 board meeting the MW USA board of directors selected two criteria for use of these funds out of six possible ideas presented by MMN directors. The criteria selected are listed here from the minutes of the February board meeting:
Missionary Pension Fund: The Finance Committee recommends using Missionary Pension Fund interest for health/mental health crisis leaves and funeral travel expenses. Funds would be used for both men and women per the original intent of the fund. MW USA would give Mennonite Mission Network the discretion to use the funds with the understanding that they will send MW USA a yearly report about how the funds are used.
ACTION NO. 3: To release interest from the Missionary Pension Fund to Mennonite Mission Network to be used for health/mental health crisis leaves or funeral travel expenses for mission workers. (Nancy Sauder/Juel Yoder Russell). Carried.
If needs such as the above do not occur in a given year, the amount can continue to accrue. Mennonite Women USA requests a report from Mennonite Mission Network annually for the spring board meeting.
-from a seminar presented by Rhoda Keener with Marty Lehman: “Women, Faith, and Money” (Mennonite Health Assembly 2007, Lancaster Stewardship University, and San Jose Assembly 2007)
This is the story of 2 cents a week and a prayer and what became of it.
This story began with a motion passed by the General Conference church in 1926 to establish a Missionary Pension Fund – It was often referred to in those days as the Incapacitated Missionary Fund. It was there to provide retirement funds for missionaries whose needs otherwise would not be met.
Gladys Goering, author of Women in Search of Mission, told the story of this fund in her book. She writes: