Mennonite Women USA donations double since 2001

This article by Anita Hooley Yoder originally appeared in The Mennonite. Look for a book by Anita Hooley Yoder in summer 2017 about Mennonite Women USA.

Rhoda Keener was a reluctant fundraiser.

“I would tease her that our meetings felt more like therapy sessions,” said Rebekah Basinger, an organizational consultant. “And she’s the trained counselor!”

Basinger started working regularly with Keener in 2003, about two years after Keener became director of Mennonite Women USA (formerly Mennonite Women), the denominational women’s organization of Mennonite Church USA. Basinger shared her understanding of fundraising as a ministry, a spiritual act in itself, not something you just add on to help you do ministry.

“That really resonated with Rhoda,” Basinger said in a January 2015 interview. “She shaped her whole approach to fundraising around that idea. And I really believe that’s been the key to the success.”

The “success” Basinger refers to is the transformation of Mennonite Women USA (MW USA) from a floundering organization—like many of today’s church-related groups—to a now stable and relatively thriving one, financially and otherwise.

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The Marlene Effect

by Rhoda Keener, Sister Care Director

Marlene Bogard began her work as executive director of Mennonite Women USA a month ago on April 13. For the five weeks between the time that Ruth Guengerich retired on March 8 and Marlene began on April 13, I assumed the “Interim Executive Director” role.

One would think a person would not organize nearly every closet in her house during this busy interlude, but that’s exactly what I did; I began calling it the “Marlene effect.”

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Sister Care Goes to College :: Creating Affirmation Through Community by Maggie Weaver

Maggie Weaver is a sophomore at Goshen College. She is double majoring in English-writing and interdisciplinary: journalism, communications and music. She is from Lititz, Pennsylvania.

On March 20 and 21, I participated in Sister Care at Goshen College. Sister Care is a program of Mennonite Women USA (MW USA) that travels locally–as well as globally–presenting women-specific seminars on healing and care for women. The seminar I participated in, piloted by Goshen College, was the first Sister Care specifically focused for college students. Beth Martin Birky, professor of English and Gender Studies and MW USA board member, coordinated the event.

Carolyn Heggen and Rhoda Keener, the creators and organizers of the Sister Care seminars, worked with a focus group in April 2014 to adapt the program to fit the needs of college students. I was fortunate enough to be a part of this group, along with a few other Goshen College students and faculty members.

The main goal for the focus group was to identify the key issues that college-aged women face, so that Keener and Heggen could adjust the Sister Care curriculum appropriately. In small groups we listed the main issues we face as college women; the list that we developed was overwhelmingly large. Later, we narrowed the list down to four topics for the March seminar: self-worth and body image challenges, stress, the cultivation of healthy friendships, and exploring our life mission to shape decision-making.

Walking into the seminar, I found myself becoming anxious for the weekend. I had been so involved in the process, talking about what challenges I, as a college woman, face everyday. I felt as though I had placed a small piece of myself into Sister Care.

I was welcomed into the seminar space with the friendly faces of other Goshen College woman, fresh fruit, and freshly-made chai provided by women from four local churches. I sat down at a table (which had been practically covered with chocolates) and, with growing excitement, waited for Keener and Heggen to begin. Continue reading

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

Denise Nickel on The Vine, The Branches and The MW USA Board

DSC01580by Denise Nickel (left), Mennonite Women USA Board representative for Central States Conference. Denise is a member of Tabor Mennonite Church in Newton, Kansas. She is active with the Worship Team, Children’s Ministries, Deacon and Women’s Group. She is secretary to the principal of Goessel Elementary School. She and her husband, Elton have 3 children and 6 grandchildren.

 

In Isaiah we are told that God’s chosen ones became a wild vine because Israel didn’t obey; but God also promised that a few who believed would be preserved. From those remnants would come the choicest of vines—our Savior Jesus Christ. “I am the true vine. My Father is the gardener” (John 15:1).

I am one of his cherished branches and his fruit of the spirit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness and self-control will grow within me as I let Christ fill me. It’s not always pleasant to be pruned, but I am developed in character by the pruning, tending, feeding, watering, and nurturing that he has done to me. Because of this process, I am now better prepared to care for others. Continue reading

Carolyn Heggen New Sister Care Co-Facilitator

Women leaders hope to translate, contextualize materials for other cultures.

by Heidi Martin for Mennonite Women USA

Carolyn Holderread Heggen, psychotherapist specializing in women’s issues, trauma recovery and healing, has accepted a role as co-facilitator of Mennonite Women USA’s (MW USA) Sister Care.

During the past year she provided leadership in the revision and expansion of the manual and seminar, collaborating with Rhoda Keener and Ruth Lapp Guengerich.

“Sister Care brings together the best of our theology and psychological understandings in practical ways that are accessible for lay women,” Heggen says. “It provides training women can use for their own healing and as they reach out to help others.” Continue reading

Sister Care Expands to [Compassion] Care in Portland

Men join women for seminar

Published: February 14th, 2012, by: Annette Brill Bergstresser of Mennonite Church USA.

By Joan Kropf

Some came because their wives wanted them to, others because they are in leadership positions and their congregations encouraged them to. But the underlying reason men participated in a [Compassion] Care seminar for the first time was the same reason women have been coming to Sister Care: to be better equipped for caring ministry.

So the harmony was four-part for the Jan. 20-21 seminar in Portland, Ore., with men adding their voices to the hymns and their insights to the discussions. Continue reading

Sister Care Seminar Breaks New Ground with Inclusion of Translation

By Emily Ralph, first published in The Mennonite, May 2012.

SOUDERTON, Pa.—One hundred and thirty women gathered for training and fellowship at Souderton Mennonite Church on March 23-24. The Sister Care seminar, developed by Mennonite Women USA, was sponsored by Eastern District and Franconia Conferences as part of their continuing work to equip and train congregational leaders.

Souderton’s Sister Care seminar was groundbreaking for Mennonite Women USA; it was the first time the seminar used materials translated into Spanish. Spanish-speaking participants were also equipped with translation headsets. As a result, the seminar was well-attended by Spanish-speaking members of Philadelphia Praise Center, Nueva Vida Norristown New Life, First Mennonite Church of Brooklyn, and Mennonite Evangelistic Tabernacle, New York City. Continue reading