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

Mennonite Women USA Hires New Communications Manager

Mennonite Women USA, a constituency group of Mennonite Church USA, is pleased to announce that Dawn Araujo-Hawkins of Kansas City, Missouri, has been appointed communications manager, following the resignation of Claire DeBerg.

Araujo-Hawkins, a member of Rainbow Mennonite Church in Kansas City, Kansas, has a degree in magazine journalism from Ball State University and a master’s in religion from Cincinnati Christian University. She has worked as a religion journalist since 2010, freelancing for a variety of publications and most recently serving as a staff writer for the Global Sisters Report — a special project of the National Catholic Reporter.

In 2015, Araujo-Hawkins was named a Handa Fellow in Interreligious Communication, and in June 2016, she won the American Academy of Religion’s award for best in-depth newswriting on religion. She is a member of the Religion News Association and the International Association of Religion Journalists.

Araujo-Hawkins comes to MW USA with a strong desire to promote women’s voices within Mennonite communities.

“I am a fan of women’s ministries, regardless of church or denomination,” she said. “However, as my personal faith journey has led me to Mennonite Church USA, I have felt increasingly called to serve with an Anabaptist organization and publication.”

Araujo-Hawkins will assume the role of communications manager on July 18, 2016.

Summer Timbrel :: Education + Miseducation :: The Problems of the Urban Poor Are Everybody’s Problems :: Ellie Roscher

This is an excerpt from Ellie Roscher’s forthcoming book Slowly by Slowly, Spring 2017, Viva Editions, which chronicles a girls school started by Abdul in Kibera, a slum in Kenya.

Ellie Roscher is the Director of Youth and Story Development at Bethlehem Lutheran Church Twin Cities. Author of How Coffee Saved My Life and forthcoming Slowly by Slowly, she is also an editor, blogger, speaker and teacher. Ellie earned her MA in Theology from Luther Seminary and her MFA in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College. She lives in Minneapolis with her spouse and son, and you can find more of her work at ellieroscher.com.

 

If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together.

–African Proverb

When Asha’s father, Jaffar, was ten years old, his grandmother made him promise to name his first daughter after her. He lived up to his promise. Asha’s great-grandmother was a stern, independent woman who never had a husband. She didn’t give into societal pressure to marry, and instead raised her children and grandchildren on her own. Asha’s dad tells her she looks like her great-grandmother. “I even share some of her mannerisms and habits,” Asha said. “Like I caught her spirit. I am proud to be her namesake.”

Asha’s mother, Zubeda, was born in Uganda, the granddaughter of a parliament member. At age ten, she was forced to come to Kenya as a refugee during the Idi Amin era. Zubeda’s mother was very educated, but lost all her documents in the war and could not prove her status in Kenya. They lived in a tent provided by the UN in a refugee camp on the border of Uganda and Kenya for a few years where Khadijah taught her daughter Zubeda to plait hair and cook samosas to make money. Zubeda stopped going to school in the eighth grade. Khadijah opened a restaurant while her husband worked as a driver for the Saudi Arabian embassy. They sent Zubeda to Kibera to stay with relatives. There she met Jaffar and has stayed with him ever since. She never went back to school, but Asha remembers thinking her mother was very smart because she spoke English.

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Asha asked, “Why did you leave school in the eighth grade?”

Zubeda said, “I don’t like talking about my past. Maybe you will look down on me because I am not educated.”

The war was hard on Asha’s mother. Zubeda says the sounds of bombs and gunshots are still in her head thirty years later. Asha worries about her.

“The life she lived, I understand,” Asha said. “She didn’t go to school. She was so young when she married my dad and had me. I think I trapped her in a life she didn’t want.”

 

Asha’s family, like many families in Kibera, did not have a toilet. Continue reading

Summer Timbrel :: Education + Miseducation :: Former MW USA Board Member Regina Shands Stoltzfus Wins Spirit of Justice Award

This article originally appeared on the Goshen College news blog.

Regina Shands Stoltzfus, assistant professor of peace, justice and conflict studies at Goshen College, has been awarded the 2016 Spirit of Justice Award by the State of Indiana Civil Rights Commission (ICRC).

The Spirit of Justice Award is the ICRC’s highest honor. The award was created to recognize Hoosiers, who inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream, have devoted their personal and professional efforts to creating social justice in the State of Indiana.

Shands Stoltzfus will be honored at the 25th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Indiana Holiday Celebration on Thursday, Jan. 14, at the Indiana Statehouse, as well as at Goshen College during MLK Day celebrations on Monday, Jan. 18.

“I am grateful for the affirmation of work that I have long felt called to,” Shands Stoltzfus said. “I am even more grateful, however, for the many mentors and co-laborers I have in my friends, colleagues, family members and of course, my students. We are in this together – no one does it alone.”

Continue reading

Six Lessons Learned by Giving up Social Media

by: Emily Kauffman and Morgan Leavy

Morgan Leavy is in her freshman year at Hesston (Kan.) College, majoring in Psychology. She enjoys musical theater, photography, traveling and being with her friends. Emily Kauffman is currently a sophomore at Hesston, majoring in Communications and minoring in Bible. She has developed a passion for the church and a desire to explore how technology is affecting our society and relationships.

This article originally ran in the Hesston College Horizon.

Sherry Turkle, author of the book, Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other, writes, “This is our moment to acknowledge the unintended consequences of the technologies to which we are vulnerable, but also to respect the resilience that has always been ours. We have time to make corrections and remember who we are—creatures of history, of deep psychology, of complex relationships, of conversations, artless, risky and face to face.”

In a search to rid ourselves of, as Turkle puts it, the “unintended consequences” of social media, we decided to give up social media for Lent this year. We were in need of a break. A break from the constant mindless scrolling. While the past 40 days have been full of temptation and loss, we have learned so much about ourselves and the world around us.

Here are the big six:

#1 We became more aware of how social media affects our relationships.

On the first day of Lent, I sat down at lunch with some friends. Immediately, I recognized that the five or six people surrounding me were on their cell phones. Continue reading

Technology: The Third Space of Faith Formation

by Rachel S. Gerber 

According to the Barna Research group, studies show that people who consider themselves as “regular attenders” of church actually only show up one time every four to six weeks. As a pastor of faith formation, this is significant!

How, in this day and age, where Sunday morning attendance is less consistent, does one care for faith formation and work at building authentic relationships?

We often think of faith formation as happening in the home (parents as the primary influence) or at church. But with a decline in attendance, which also leads to a decrease in parent’s confidence in their own ability to provide and promote faith development, where does this leave us?

We can’t change the commitment levels of people but we can make the most of the various touch points we do have with them, utilizing resources to connect with them on a more regular basis. Technology is one way that this can happen. Technology can aid in making those connections still happen even when we can’t gather together physically. Obviously face-to-face connection is the best (always!), but technology helps to fill the gaps when that just isn’t possible.

Technology gives us 24/7/365 access into people’s lives. Why do we think that faith formation is only limited to a Sunday morning service or activities that take place in your church building? I want to encourage us to consider the “digital space” as a legitimate space in which faith formation can occur, in addition to home and congregation.

The possibilities to connect and form faith with 24/7/365 access is exciting and offers such potential to undergird what is already happening at home and church is limitless.

We already see this happening in our schools through a “flipped classroom” pedagogy approach. Continue reading

Former Amish Woman is Now CEO of Successful Heartfelt Creations

by Linda Bontrager 

The Discovery

I will never forget the day I picked up a rubber stamp for the first time. I had bought a little stamp set for my kids and I was showing them how to use it. I remember picking up the stamp, inking it and pressing it down on the paper. As I lifted the stamp and saw the image it was that “AH-HA!” moment. It was one of those moments in my life when I realized I had discovered something amazing and it would shape the course of our future.

Our family for generations back is old­ order Amish. Our education went up to 8th grade in a one room Amish parochial school. Growing up infused with tradition, legalism and living in a Northern Indiana rural farming community was not conducive to thinking “outside of the box” or “being creative.” We did not have access to any stamp or scrapbook stores in the area and hiring a taxi to shop for stamps was not an option at the time. But the stamping bug had permanently bitten me. Continue reading