Mennonite Women USA
April 2015 
Noteworthy News

May springtime blossoms surround you!


Many changes are happening at Mennonite Women USA. With this issue of A Postcard and a Prayer, we welcome Marlene Bogard as executive director. 


For the next foreseeable future Marlene and Berni Kaufman will produce this electronic newsletter, with assistance from Claire DeBerg, communications manager, and Rhoda Keener, Sister Care director.


Welcome, Marlene, to the joys of working for and with MW USA.


Peace and blessings, 

Mennonite Women USA staff 

Warm Breath of Spring

by Kathy Stiffney

Fresh Warm Breath and Guide of my Life

    spring up from my wintered soul.

Stir awake the inner life that has been buried

   in a blanket of hibernation.

I have been resting, bracing from the dark and cold

   gathering resource for the coming need to move.

Thank you for the resting time. 


Now I ask for the embrace that warms the seed.                                      

   Place in me the fertile ground for living this life.

Bring me the dream that puts fire in the belly.

   Give me the strength to root deep and shoot forth.

Let me be a blossom and a fruit for this earth.

For the coming season, Oh Divine One

   you are my Warm Breath of Spring. 


Kathy Stiffney, Goshen, IN, enjoys her practtice ofmassae therapy, growing her artistic interest and providing space and retreat for those interested in inner work.
Staff Transitions

Ruth Lapp Guengerich spent several days in Newton, KS sharing her wisdom, experiences, knowledge, and files with new executive director, Marlene Bogard. Ruth completed almost four years of service for MW USA as co-director, job sharing with Rhoda Keener. 


Ruth said, "These have been an amazing four years, of serving women across the MC USA, collaborating with Rhoda Keener, who had served as executive director for 11 years. We became friends in the course of our almost weekly phone calls and many, many emails about our work. I learned so much about job sharing, about the incredible work of this organization, and the women across the church who care deeply about MW USA. This work was a blessing beyond my imagination. Now I am very pleased that Marlene Bogard has felt called to this work. Her energy, creativity, commitment and passion for women will not only sustain but inspire new vision into this organization."


Marlene shares, "I am deeply grateful for the work that both Ruth and Rhoda have done with Mennonite Women. I have much to learn, and will be grateful for all the new friendships and connections I will make. All for the glory of God!"


Rhoda Keener will continue as Sister Care director. "I certainly welcome Marlene to this new role," Rhoda says. "I believe she will bring new resources and ministry for women in the church. It has been a real privilege to work with Ruth over the past four years. I wish her well in retirement. I look forward to continuing with the Sister Care seminars."

Volunteers thanked at luncheon

The women's group from First Mennonite Church, Halstead, KS, provided a delightful lunch for the volunteers from the central Kansas area. These women provide assistance as needed throughout the year. 

Lois Loflin, Halstead, KS, has been the volunteer coordinator more than 10 years. She recruits and supervises the volunteers who prepare mailings, assemble workshop materials, and host staff. 
Sister Care Goes to College :: Creating Affirmation Through Community by Maggie Weaver

Maggie Weaver works on a reflective activity.
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. 

Shina Park and Angeliky Santos attended the pilot Sister Care seminar.
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.


Read Maggie's full reflection.

Women gather at the Franconia Conference/Eastern District Women's Gathering
Mennonite Women USA prepares for Mennonite World Conference 

by Doris Diener

Saturday morning, March 7, approximately fifty women joined together at Nueva Vida Norristown to "set the day apart" for worship, learning, and fellowship. 


The theme of the day was "Shattering Our Mirrors"-releasing the false image we see and embracing the image God sees when our Creator looks at us.


Read more and see more great pics!

Sister Care 

If you are planning on attending the Mennonite World Conference (MWC) in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania July 21-26, consider participating in our workshop.

Rhoda Keener and Carolyn Heggen will be presenting a workshop titled, "Sister Care: Global Contextualization & Testimonials".
More Sister Care Seminars in Brazil

Elizabeth Fernandez, who served on the leadership committee or the seminar presented by Carolyn Heggen and Rhoda Keener in January, held a Sister Care Seminar on March 20-21, 2015 in Brasilia for 41 women.  

Since then Deusilene Milhomen also led two seminars. 
See Sister Care Multiplies in Brazil. 

Timbrel Highlights  

 "Last month I led a women's retreat on spirituality and the environment. This was the third retreat I've organized since joining the staff at Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center, and they have all somehow incorporated things I love dearly: singing and worshiping with other women, hiking at night in the snow, sharing delicious and thoughtfully prepared food, and reflecting on stories from the Bible and from our lives.

Read Janie Beck Kreider's full reflection from Timbrel here.
IWF Spotlight 
Carren OumaKenya

Carren studies at the Mennonite Theological college of East Africa.

She is doing very well in her studies. Carren is a gifted teacher who has been a missionary in Tanzania for over seven years together with her husband. She will remain a resourceful teacher of religion.


The Kitchen Table
Pam Risser
from The Burning Bush
, Franklin Mennonite Conference newsletter 


"Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill
the law of Christ."
(Galatians 6:2, NIV)

Recently, I had the privilege of being the recipient of this "burden bearing" in a number of ways. Our daughter, Amanda, who suffers from Rett Syndrome, was scheduled for a surgical procedure at Hershey Medical Center. 


This is Volume 1 of the Illinois Mennonite Women Quarterly Newsletter Sowing Sisterhood.
It was created and designed by Kim Litwiller and Shannon Unzicker. Kim is the Associate Conference Minister for Illinois Mennonite Conference and the Co-Coordinator for Illinois Mennonite Women. 

Shannon is the Great Lakes representative to the board of Mennonite Women USA.
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.  Click here for introductory video.


Sister Care resources are currently available from the MW USA office*

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 resource plus testimonials from Sara Wenger Shenk, Meghan Good, Elizabeth Soto Albrecht and Marlene Harder Bogard.

Dove's Nest is a grassroots, faith-based organization with strong ties to Mennonite Church USA. Their mission is to empower and equip faith communities to keep children and youth safe in their homes, churches, and communities. "Let the children come to me. Don't stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children" (Luke 18:16 NLT).

They are currently looking for an executive director. You can find a job description on their website.

"About five years ago, the mother of one of my son's classmates invited me to join a prayer group that was being formed for our elementary school.  
She explained that she would be one of the group leaders, and that the group of mothers would be meeting two mornings per month in her home to pray for our children, their teachers and the other students.
I was flattered that she had asked me, and thanked her for the invitation. I told her I would let her know in a week or so, but in my head, I was already thinking, "Nice of her to invite me, but I just don't know if that's 'me.' I will probably have to pray out loud in front of a group...not something I am very comfortable with." 
Later, other reasons to justify turning her down ran through my head:
"Praying with others who I don't really know all that well? Too intimate."  I thought.  

"No one else in the group is Mennonite...I'm sure that some of my beliefs are a lot different than theirs, and that would be awkward."  

"I sat in the sunlight, sipping a cup of Nepali tea. Overwhelmed with the day's work, I appreciated this moment to sit and take it all in. I watched a woman, whose son was tugging on my coat, wander around the yard of the Transit Home, crying to herself. 

She had been in living in psychosis for a few weeks now, and no one had been able to talk to her without her repeating the same sentence over and over again. Months of living on the street, struggling to keep herself and her son alive, had made her confused and angry.
This sort of behavior is common in the work I do in Nepal. I volunteer with Koshish, an organization that rescues women with mental illness who are often abandoned on the streets or locked up in their homes. The women who are rescued spend some time at the Transit Home where they receive treatment and care and are then reintegrated back with their families or communities. I often see cases that make me want to close my eyes, bury my head, and forget that the horrible stories I hear actually happen..."

"This morning, I went to the car to get a Claritin. This effect on my allergies is not a favorite part of the prelude to spring in Kansas that I enjoy. However, as I walked from the office building to my car, I was arrested by the beauty of this tree! (No pun intended. As I took this picture, I was facing the county courthouse and jail.)  

This stop-and-take-notice moment was definitely of God. Throughout my life, symbols of nature have been a way in which God calls to me.
During my years as an emerging adult, in the hustle and bustle of establishing my position in the professional world, I was demanding independence. In this cacophony, God spoke as a whisper in the flutter of butterfly wings. A gentle invitation to notice God is still in control.
In the routine of my 40's, I was in a fog of discerning what is really important. What purpose does God have for me? Do our paths converge or collide? God would call me in the honk of a flock of geese. The message? Stop. Look up. Pray, always pray... Then listen..."
Give to Mennonite Women USA

Giving to MW USA online is so easy! Give today...transform tomorrow...
2015 Sister Care seminars
  • Kalona, Iowa :: April 17-18
  • Chicago, Illinois (Lombard) :: May 15-16
  • MC 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
  • NEW - SAVE THE DATE :: Sister Care Level 2 :: Camp Hebron,
    Halifax, Pennsylvania :: October 2-4
  • Goshen College pilot for college women :: October 9-10
  • Atlantic Coast Conference, Pennsylvania :: Compassionate Care for pastoral care leaders and teams :: October 23
  • Cuba :: November
2016 Sister Care seminars
  • Newton/Hesston, Kansas :: January 29-30
  • Kenya :: April
  • Winnipeg, Manitoba :: May 13-14
From The Mennonite 
Spiritual disciplines for moving
by Anna Groff


In February, we moved to a new house in Tucson, Ariz. As someone who likes order and knowing where things are, I don't like moving. Then again, who actually likes moving?  


I felt stress building as our moving date approached...

Read more.

Gifts to honor and remember

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



During this springtime when flowers are bursting forth from the earth, trees are blooming, the grass is greening, and birds are serenading us from their perches in trees and on fence posts, may you too experience God's love bursting forth in your own life.


Peace, love, and blessings,


Mennonite Women USA

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