Postcard & a Prayer :: September Email Newsletter

Enjoy September e-news from Mennonite Women USA!

Check out our new format 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. We also include a prayer to bless your day, excerpts from women in the greater church and content relevant to Mennonite women everywhere.

Sign-up today, stay connected each month!

MW USA September Email 2016

In Motion with Marlene: Invite Them to Leadership!

This column originally appeared in the summer 2016 issue of Timbrel magazine. To stay up to date, subscribe to Timbrel here.

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With the waters of baptism still moist on my brow and freshly commissioned by the band of Jesus Freaks who nurtured me in my outspoken faith, I decided to step away from a secure nest of Mennonite thought and practice and from my home community of Mountain Lake, Minnesota.

After high school, I searched for an evangelical college, tag-teamed with my Youth for Christ friends and decided on Bethel College (now Bethel University) in St. Paul, Minnesota. 

Here I discovered professors who spoke unabashedly about their faith. Daily chapel services and weekend prayer groups. The Psalms were read at the beginning of every biology class. My friends and I spoke freely of our faith, our longings to be in God’s will and we worked hard to be holy and consistent in our daily quiet time. I was in the best place possible. Plus, I was preparing through my studies to be a missionary!

But then, I met this guy who asked me many questions and then I started remembering.

A conservative Christian, he was questioning faith, affluence, and his worldview. He asked me about what I believed and how I was raised. He wondered about the Mennonites, Anabaptists and discipleship. In our ever-deepening conversations, I realized I was missing some things that had become dormant in my years away from home. I loved my life as an evangelical, but where were the conversations about peacemaking and social justice?

Together we read books that turned both of us on our heads. I remembered how I was raised, the theology of my family, church and tradition; a theology that went beyond personal piety to whole-life discipleship. I once again claimed my Anabaptist, Christian, Mennonite faith. Our friendship blossomed, we fell in love and have now been married almost 40 years.

Since then, Mike has remained committed to the church he was convinced was the right fit for his faith: the Mennonite Church. His path of seminary, pastoring and teaching has been honorable and steadfastly faithful. For me, I have served the Mennonite church as a camp director, area-conference minister, administrator, librarian and presently in my role as executive director of Mennonite Women USA. We have given our adult lives to this church, what is now Mennonite Church USA, but it was not what either of us imagined at age 18. 

The stepping away from what is familiar, the confusion about beliefs, the struggle about identity and life direction in young adulthood, are normal. Those of us who pay attention to the way faith develops throughout the stages of life understand this and expect it. Most of us need to have a time away to test, to re-evaluate what we truly value about our faith and the way we were raised. One of our sons at age 25 reflected, “I am not sure I value where I was raised, but I really do appreciate how I was raised.” He came to this conclusion after being gone from home for six years.   

This past year, I have been privileged to give leadership to three Sister Care for College Women events at Goshen, Bethel and Hesston colleges. One of our sessions provides guidance on answering the question: “What shall I do with my one precious life?” In each group, I ask the college women to reflect on what they wanted to be when they were 10, compared to what their aspirations are as 18- to 21-year-olds.

As girls, some envisioned being glamorous adults: ballerinas, athletes, actresses. But the majority of the women answer that presently they are studying for helping professions. We will be blessed with excellent social workers, nurses, teachers, psychologists and ministers. We will have faithful engineers, veterinarians and writers.

As the next decade rolls in, I believe these young adult women will indeed be leaders in their chosen professions. But let’s not lose sight of what they might be for our church as well. Encourage them to ask questions, let them wonder, listen to them, and most importantly, invite them to leadership. That’s what happened to this Jesus Freak from the 1970s. I was given opportunity to both fail and thrive. I was encouraged and mentored and invited to be a leader.

And I said yes.

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Marlene Bogard is Mennonite Women USA executive director. Previously, she served as Minister of Christian Formation and Resource Library Director for the Western District Conference of Mennonite Church USA for 25 years. She currently lives in Salem, Oregon with her husband Mike.

Postcard & a Prayer :: August Email Newsletter

Enjoy August e-news from Mennonite Women USA!

Check out our new format 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. We also include a prayer to bless your day, excerpts from women in the greater church and content relevant to Mennonite women everywhere.

Sign-up today, stay connected each month!

MW USA August Email 2016

Claire DeBerg Resigns from Mennonite Women USA

Claire DeBerg submitted her resignation to the Executive Director and Board Chair of Mennonite Women USA on March 21st. DeBerg has worked for Mennonite Women USA since 2012 starting with the title “Editor” and calling for a new job title of “Communications Manager” that would better describe the scope of the position.

During her time with Mennonite Women USA (MW USA) DeBerg led the design and launch of their new website, redesigned Timbrel magazine, led the redesign efforts for Mennonite Women USA branding from brochures and business cards to name tags and banners and launched and maintained the majority of their social media profiles: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, Pinterest and LinkedIn.

“We are grateful for the ease in which Claire utilized the social media avenues so the MW USA presence could be known in many more ways,” says Kathy Bilderback, MW USA board chair. “As part of our mission, we hear and share the stories of empowering women and Claire did an excellent job in allowing those stories to be seen and heard while always connecting to our resources. It has been such a gift for us to have Claire be part of our ministry and team.”

DeBerg has maintained the organization’s mission to focus on a platform of communications welcoming diverse voices in terms of country of origin, race, demographics and economics. She recently led the organization in opening their first online shop where sales of Sister Care materials, Bible Study Guides, t-shirts and more are available. In her quest to make Timbrel magazine available and accessible DeBerg helped launch the ability to purchase print subscriptions online.

“I am deeply grateful for having the honor of working with and for all Mennonite women these last 3 ½ years,” says DeBerg. “The work is guided by a profound mission and vision which will continue to inspire me even as I pass the torch.” Executive Director Marlene Bogard is leading the search committee to discover DeBerg’s replacement.

“Claire has a way of putting a bit of sparkle into her work,” says Bogard. “Her personality, faith, ideas and imagination have helped Mennonite Women USA be a bright spot in our denomination.”

DeBerg looks forward to expanding the freelance writing contracts she’s maintained for the last ten years as she recently opened her Minneapolis writing agency, Cicada.

“I love powerful communication and working for Mennonite Women USA gifted me numerous opportunities to move in the Anabaptist space equipped with purpose and grace—and that is priceless. Because of how I was nurtured and trusted in this organization, I feel empowered to bring that learning to enrich my work with my Cicada writers.”

DeBerg graduated with a BA in English from Bethel University in 2001 and earned a Master of Arts in English Creative Writing from University of Northern Iowa in 2005. She was a professor of English for three years before launching her commercial freelance writing business in 2007.

She is a member of Emmanuel Mennonite Church, Minneapolis, MN, is mother to Harold and Gloria and wife to Darren. She has completed her first novel and is working on her memoir. She blogs at clairedeberg.com

 

 

Special Invitation to the “Empowering Women” event with Mennonite Women USA

Dear Mennonite woman,

Yes, that’s you! We are delighted to invite you to a special summer event designed to resource you!

Empowering Women: Money, Health and Faith is a resourcing event that will take place August 12-13, 2016 at Peace Mennonite Church in Aurora, Colorado, just east of Denver.

In previous years, this kind of event was called PREP (preparing, resourcing, encouraging, praising) and was held specifically for area-conference women leaders.

This year, this event is being opened up to all women, because, let’s be honest – who among us doesn’t need to be empowered with regards to our understanding of money and our personal health?

So… come…it’s for all women!

 

MW USA PREP 2016 poster 2016.05.17

Here are two documents you will want to open:

1. A colorful poster. Please print and post in your church.

2. An information and schedule sheet.

Please forward both of these documents to any women you think might be interested.

 

What will happen at this event?

  • Networking
  • Friend-making
  • Worship
  • Inspiration
  • Nurture
  • Eating
  • Education
  • Empowerment

Who are the presenters?

Rhoda Blough, of Denver and Teresa Boshart Yoder of Harrisonburg, VA. As staff of Everence, they bring passion, experience and tools for us to understand our relationship with money and our personal health. These professionals will provide handouts, books, journals and other resources.

Registration

This is easy! Just click here to register.

Space for 75 women will fill up fast. Spread the word, get registered by August 2 and read your information sheet.

Then…add your prayers to ours for a fantastic weekend.

-Marlene Bogard, MW USA Executive Director & Berni Kaufman, MWUSA Executive Assistant

You’re Invited to the Spring Supper of the South Central and Western Districts Mennonite Women

MW USA executive director, Marlene Bogard, is the keynote speaker for the 2016 Mennonite Women Spring Supper hosted by South Central and Western District Mennonite Women groups.

When: Thursday, March 17, 2016

Time: 6:00 p.m.

Where: Whitestone Mennonite Church, 629 Crescent Drive, Hesston, KS 67062

Theme: “Making Connections: friendship, faith and women today”

Marlene Bogard serves as executive director of Mennonite Women USA. She works from her home office in Salem, OR, and daily walks her cute little doggie up a hill, over a creek and beside tall trees. She regularly cuddles and reads to her grandson and is very grateful for that opportunity, but she still misses Kansas and all the wonderful Mennonite women who live there.

More highlights:

  • Music provided by Whitestone Women’s Quartet.
  • Full Meal provided by Whitestone Youth Group of Ham, Potatoes and more
  • Only $10 payable at the door

RSVP TODAY here:

email here: ksmennonitewomen@gmail.com

or

call here: 620-327-8201 (Angie at Hesston College).

This event is sponsored by Mennonite Women organizations of South Central and Western District Conferences. The offering will fund the WDC project:  The International Women’s Fund scholarships that help women around the world receive training and education for church leadership. Make check out to:  Mennonite Women USA for WDC project OR to South Central Conference.

Kansas Sister Care Seminar Draws Women from Five States

from Mennonite Women USA

Carolyn Heggen, psychotherapist specializing in trauma healing, and Rhoda Keener, Sister Care Director for Mennonite Women USA, led a Sister Care seminar at Bethel College Mennonite Church for 74 women from Colorado, Indiana, Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Kansas.

Marcene Entz and Karen Andres portray the Mark 2 dramatic monologue, “Carrying Our Friend to Jesus.”

Marcene Entz and Karen Andres portray the Mark 2 dramatic monologue, “Carrying Our Friend to Jesus.”

Participant, Elizabeth Raid, shared with her congregation, Bethel College Mennonite Church, her response to the seminar, saying:

“While I’m very comfortable speaking in front of large groups, as an introvert I often resist large gatherings, especially where women are somehow supposed to bond or have a grand time together. The Sister Care seminar had a different feel. Rhoda Keener and Carolyn Heggen provided a worshipful, inspirational setting and facilitated an environment where vulnerability, trust and truth-telling emerged. By sharing their personal experiences and examples during the seminar, they gave credence to what they said and opened the door for others to share more personally around the tables. I experienced and witnessed healing permeating hearts and creating commonality. The oil in my lamp has been replenished. I’m grateful! In an in-between time of my life, I feel renewed and open to what God has in store next for me.”

Participants at the Kansas Sister Care seminar.

Participants at the Kansas Sister Care seminar.

Heggen and Keener will lead Sister Care seminars in Kenya and Tanzania in April, Winnipeg in May, Indonesia in June, and an advanced leadership training in Guatemala in October. Marlene Bogard, MW USA executive director, provides leadership for the Sister Care for college women ministry. She led a seminar at Bethel College in February and will lead a similar event at Hesston College in March. Heggen and Keener hope to lead a Sister Care Level 2 retreat in the USA in November. Areas interested in scheduling a seminar or retreat should click here to email Rhoda Keener.

Coloring as a Spiritual Practice AND Upcoming Podcast!

Adult coloring books are all the rage. They are relaxing and enjoyable, either individually or as a group. But have you ever considered how coloring might be a kind of spiritual practice? What? Doodling as a way to pray?

I have long been on a mission to help folks claim their own “spirituality style.” Each of us gravitate towards connecting with God in different ways. Some of us love to participate in worship through congregational singing, others would rather be amidst ferns and trees on a woodsy path. Some of us spend hours in silent meditation and prayer, others of us thrive in group discussions, or when baking or cooking. Some of us read and ponder, others of us thrive in the midst of color and design with artistic tools.
All of these spirituality preferences grow out of an inner yearning to relate to God in the way that feels most comfortable, in ways that make us feel most alive. And all of these ways reflect our own personal style of creativity, our inspiration DNA, if you will.
“Me? Creative?” I am often alarmed at the dozens of people who tell me they are not creative. Wait, couldn’t that be offensive to God? Continue reading

Special Invitation from Executive Director, Marlene Bogard for #GivingTuesday

Dear Friends,

I can’t stop thinking about the Christian Anabaptist women from all over the world who are so hungry for learning, so ready for study, so able to serve and so very eager to lead. Each year we evaluate applications and choose who to support for our International Women’s Fund scholarships.

Listen to their hopes and dreams:

“I have a clear call from God. There are barriers for me to go to North Korea to share God’s love, but I trust that God will open them.”


“I want to train and teach children and youth, in the field of psychological health, based on biblical perspectives.”


“I am not able to take final exams because I have run out of funds. I want to teach religious studies.”


So here is my special invitation to you: will you support our International Women’s Fund by participating in #GivingTuesday tomorrow, Tuesday, December 1? Today, or tomorrow, just click on this link to our special IWF giving on the Mennonite Women USA website and give so women around the world can continue their theological studies.

Your dollars go much farther than you can imagine to support Anabaptist women in Thailand, Colombia, Korea, Tanzania, Congo, Kenya, Guatemala, Mexico, Belize and Nicaragua.

“The light that you plant is going to light up much more than you ever could imagine.” -Alix Lozano of Colombia–church leader and recipient of an International Women’s Fund scholarship.

 With a grateful heart,

Marlene Bogard

“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