The Global Connections of Mennonite Women USA :: by Anita Hooley Yoder

This article first appeared in the print version of The Mennonite.
by Anita Hooley Yoder

Now this, I thought, is a real “World Conference moment.” I was having a conversation in Spanish with a woman whose family came from a Low German-speaking Mennonite community in Mexico. Although neither of us was speaking our first language, we quickly connected over our interest in ministry among women—I as the writer of a history project for Mennonite Women USA (MW USA), she in her work with “Old Colony” Mennonite women. We also were both familiar with Sister Care, the program of self-healing and mutual support created by MW USA.

The woman I was speaking with, Anna Giesbrecht, had actually gone through the Sister Care seminar twice. Neither of her Sister Care experiences was led by MW USA personnel. Rather, Giesbrecht received the material from Ofelia García, a Mexican Mennonite pastor, and other Latin American leaders. García was trained at the 2013 Sister Care weekend seminar led by Carolyn Heggen and Rhoda Keener in Guatemala. García has since adapted the material for use in many different contexts, including as weekly meetings and as Sunday school lessons for children of both genders. And now Giesbrecht has taken the Sister Care materials to the Old Colony Mennonite women of Chihuahua.

Giesbrecht guided the women through the Sister Care material in 12 weekly sessions. Two pieces of the material particularly caught their attention: Continue reading

History Project Update from Anita Hooley Yoder

by Anita Hooley Yoder

Much of my research time is spent interviewing women, but I’ve also looked through many books, articles, and archived materials. Generally I find it much more interesting to talk to real people! But sometimes I come across a resource that I find incredibly helpful in providing context for this project. One of those resources is a new work (published in 2014) by Felipe Hinojosa called Latino Mennonites: Civil Rights, Faith, and Evangelical Culture.

Hinojosa devotes a whole chapter specifically to women (much more space than almost all the other conference or regional history books I’ve seen). Continue reading

Our History Book Update // by Anita Hooley Yoder

by Anita Hooley Yoder

The past few weeks have been full ones for me. I am grateful for connections made at convention in Kansas City and anticipate making more at World Conference this week. In between these two events, I made a quick trip to Mississippi on other business. I decided to make use of my time there to connect with a few Mennonite women in the area.

I went from the airport in Jackson to the home of Jody Miller. Jody provided some context on the area and helped me understand the diverse and connected nature of Gulf States conference. (This conference is currently in flux due to things happening in the larger denomination.) Continue reading

MW USA History Project Update :: by Anita Hooley Yoder

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