Mennonite Women USA
February 2015 
Noteworthy News

February 1 was the Celtic feast of Imbolc which means "in the belly." It marks the first herald of spring when the earth begins to stir with the new life deep below the frozen ground.  February is also the beginning of Lent (Wednesday, February 18).


Take a few minutes to pay special attention to what God might be causing to stir within you.  Quiet your mind and focus on the blossoming within yourself.  Notice colors and the fragrance.  Imagine a blossom sprouting deep inside yourself.  Listen to the invitation calling you to new growth during Lent.*


Peace and blessings, 


Mennonite Women USA staff 


*Abbey of the Arts 

A Prayer for Light

by Jenny Castro

God of love,

God of grace,

God of mercy,

God of forgiveness,

God of creativity,

God of mystery,

God of compassion,

God of stillness,

God of laughter,

God of profundity,

God of strength,

God of generosity,

God of silence,

God of goodness,

God of truth,

You are our light.


May we listen for you,

May we walk with you,

May we abide in you,

May we live in you,

May we move in you,

May we root our very being in you,

so that through us, the fullness of your light is reflected to all we encounter.


Jenny Castro works in the communications department at Mennonite Church USA and is the Coordinator for the Women in Leadership Project, also for MC USA.  She lives in San Antonio, Texas, with her husband Jacob, their three spunky kids, and a Nicaraguan cat.

Bay Shore Mennonite Church hosting PREP
Duesilene and worship team lead singing wearing Sister Care T-Shirts.

PREP 2015 :: Sarasota, Florida

Date: March 6-7, 2015 
Location: Bay Shore Mennonite Church, Sarasota, Florida
Theme: Sharing and Caring for Ourselves and Others
Registration fee: $25

MW USA conference leaders from across the country will gather for networking, worshiping, and affirmation for leadership. The special focus on Saturday will be Sister Care Facilitator Training. Women interested in becoming Sister Care facilitators are encouraged to attend the Saturday training. 

Still interested in attending? Contact Berni for more information. 
Pray for safe travels and inspiration for the women attending.

Curitiba, Brazil

Women from 20 Brazilian Mennonite congregations gathered in Curitiba, Brazil January 14-16 for a Sister Care seminar led by Carolyn Heggen and Rhoda Keener. The 55 women represented two Mennonite conferences. Linda Shelly, Mennonite Mission Network Director for Latin America, also participated and assisted with translation. The newly translated Portuguese Sister Care manual was used for the first time! 


Check out more photos on the MW USA Facebook page.



Find out where Sister Care will be presented next.

MW USA welcomes Marlene Bogard at Annual MW USA Staff Retreat and Meetings :: February 17-21, 2015 in Goshen, Indiana.


The MW USA staff met February 17-18 for a retreat.
The Editorial Advisory Council met February 19.
The board of directors met from 5:00 pm Thursday, February 19 until 3:00 pm Saturday, February 21. Newly appointed executive director, Marlene Bogard (right), shared her vision for the organization with the board.

Sister Care DVD & Facilitator Guide Now Available!

The Sister Care seminar is now available on DVD with 12 sessions for small groups, retreats, or Sunday school classes. An easy to use 40-page facilitator's guide written by Rhoda Keener and Carolyn Heggen accompanies the DVD.

Each DVD session taught by Carolyn Heggen or Rhoda Keener averages 12-15 minutes in length with total viewing time of 166 minutes. The facilitator's guide offers suggested scripture, songs, and additional questions and activities for participants. Each participant will need a Sister Care: Equipping Women for Caring Ministry manual.


Under the direction of Jerry Holsopple, Communications and Visual Arts professor at Eastern Mennonite University, three communications students produced this video as their senior project. In January 2013 Anne Diller, Erica Garber, and Alyshia Zimmerman (pictured at right) filmed Carolyn and Rhoda teaching the four Sister Care units. Then they combined their expertise to produce this resource. A grant from United Service Foundation funded the project.


Sister Care resources are currently available from the MW USA office and soon to be available for purchase on our website (stay tuned).*

DVD + Facilitator Guide: $25

DVD + Facilitator Guide + Sister Care participant manual package: $30

Sister Care manuals:  
1-4 - $10 each
5-9 - $ 9 each

More than 10 - $ 8 each

*Shipping costs additional


Read more about this exciting news plus testimonials from Sara Wenger Shenk, Meghan Good, Elizabeth Soto Albrecht and Marlene Harder Bogard.


Thriving As Women
by Kathy Bilderback

"As I step into this new role as Chair of the Board for Mennonite Women USA, I am drawn to the organization's logo of the vine with the verse from John 15:5 - "I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." (NIV) I especially hold tight to the phrase "apart from me you can do nothing." It's humbling to admit that I can do nothing. 


The fact is: I am a doer. In my stubbornness and sense that I know what's best, I often push forward to do whatever I think needs to be done. There are times when my head is sore from hitting the wall hard when I realize I really can't do it all. I am learning that before I "do" I must first "be". I must first be nourished by the Vine and recognize that in my attachment, I am no longer just me but I am God's child, and only in being a branch on the vine does God produce fruit..." 


Burning Bush
Timbrel Highlights  

 Mary Helmuth (above) is featured in her daughter Carol Honderich's piece in the latest issue of Timbrel: "Dear Mom,

I've been looking for ways to share with you the love in my heart and the gratefulness I feel for all that you and Dad have given us, taught us, and been to us.  'Mom' is a very small word on the Scrabble board but it fills my heart with so much love and respect..."

Read Carol's full article in the current issue of  Timbrel magazine.


IWF Spotlight 
Yanett Palacios


Yanett displays a deep pastoral spirit. She is an effective servant in her faith community. 

She has at least 2 years of study remaining to be followed by her thesis and final project.
The Kitchen Table
Wilma Martin, guest writer
from The Burning Bush
, Franklin Mennonite Conference newsletter 

About 6-7 years ago, my church, Salem Ridge Community Church, held special interest classes.  I was asked to lead a knitting/crochet class. In that group were several young, unmarried pregnant ladies who were excited about making baby blankets and other projects for their new babies. After the official class was over, group members asked if they could continue to come to my home to knit. 


"When I accepted the offer to join the staff of Mennonite Women USA little did they know they were getting a 2-for-1 deal. Two DeBerg's for the price of one! What a steal.

Harold has been my faithful office partner while I work from my home in Minneapolis and do all theTimbrel editing, correspondence, proofing, designing and communications my job requires. I could not have designed a better situation like the one I find myself in with Mennonite Women USA. This is an organization that is respectful of where women find themselves.

I was determined to be with my son and continue breastfeeding while working. It has been a wonderful and wild journey working alongside my son for Mennonite Women USA. He has been with me to all our staff retreats, conferences, convention and even Women in Conversation.

I can guarantee you I've written emails with a nursing baby on my lap..."

Jenny Castro is new to the communications team and coordinator of the Women in Leadership Project for Mennonite Church USA. She has a degree in English and has been involved in education in a variety of contexts-from public school teaching to community education. She's spent time living and working in Central America with Mennonite Central Committee and several years as a stay-at-home mom. She's a mother to three incredibly special people (ages 10, 8 and 5) and partner in this adventure called life with Jake, her inspiration. She is a member of San Antonio (Texas) Mennonite Church.

"I believe the Women in Leadership Project has an invaluable gift to offer the Church. It has an important role to play in the church's transformation, through undoing patriarchy as well as naming and recognizing other forms of oppression that are alive and well among us. It's not easy. And often it's painful work..."


Elizabeth Soto Albrecht, DMin, is moderator of Mennonite Church USA and director of field education at Lancaster Theological Seminary. She previously served with the Colombian Mennonite Church through the Commission on Overseas Mission and Mennonite Central Committee. She was pastor of Armenia Mennonite Church (Colombia) and was ordained in October 2004. She earned a Master of Arts in Religion studying at AMBS and Seminario Evangelico de Puerto Rico, and holds a DMin from San Francisco Theological Seminary. She will speak at AMBS Pastors Week on Wednesday, January 28.


"Lately I find myself reading textbooks I bought at AMBS during the 1984-85 school year. I was dying to learn more about my Anabaptist roots as a Puertorican who had converted into the Mennonite faith in the mid 1970s while living in Puerto Rico. Among the many discussions I had with other seminarians, I came to the conclusion that the "believer's baptism" was a political, economic, as well as a faith statement of its time. I was able to connect with my baptismal story, and with the many stories I read of the price the Anabaptists had to pay..."

Giving Online

We have made giving to MW USA so much easier. Thanks to our new, secure online giving portal supporting our ministries has never been easier.

Give to the Mennonite Women USA:
2015 Sister Care seminars
  • Sarasota - PREP - Sister Care leadership training ::
    March 6-7
  • Goshen College pilot for college women ::
    March 20-21
  • Iowa :: April 17-18
  • Chicago area (Lombard, Illinois) :: May 15-16
  • Mennonite Church USA Kansas City convention workshops :: June 30-July 5
    • Sister Care: Level II
    • Sister Care: DVD resource
  • Mennonite World Conference workshops :: July 21-26
    • Sister Care: Global Contextualization and Testimonials
    • Explore Sister Care International 
  • Goshen College pilot for college women :: October
  • Lancaster, Pennsylvania - Compassionate Care for pastoral care leaders ::
    October 23
    • sponsored by Atlantic Coast Conference
2016 Sister Care seminars
  • Kenya :: Winter 2016 
From The Mennonite 
Will Our Children Have Faith?
by Jessica Schrock Ringenberg 


It is probably with too much pride that I tell people that I am the only person in my family that attends church. Not that I like that my family does not have a church they call home, but more that I like the fact that my faith was and is my choice to make. I am not a grandchild of the kingdom, I'm a first generation child.


Memorial gifts


Mennonite Women USA invites persons to share financially to support this ministry. Individuals are invited to give in honor of, or in remembrance of, significant people in their lives. We recognize that each gift honors or remembers a relationship.


Gifts given by:


Missy Short in memory of Irene Thomas.

Joyce Hofer in memory of Gladys Litwiller.

Lelia Schlabach in memory of Ellen Kaufman Yoder.

Winifred Wall in memory of Kathryn Stalter.

Phoebe Wiley in memory of Tillie Beachy.


During this season of Lent may God stir within you

new hope,

new energy,

and new commitment

to allow the stirrings inside you

to blossom forth.


Peace to you this Lenten season.   

Berni, Claire, Ruth, Rhoda, Lois 


Mennonite Women USA
718 N. Main Street // Newton, KS 67114 // 316-281-4396