Sep 22, 2017

Letter to the Women in our Churches

The following letter was prepared by Shirley Redekop, President of Mennonite Women Canada  and Elsie Rempel, Secretary/Treasurer.

To the women in our churches who gather for fellowship, service and mission,

Blessings for the fall season with its energy and new beginnings, even while our gardens yield their harvest and settle into a season of rest. We hope you have received and are enjoying this year's Bible Study Guide, Live Your Call, Embracing God's Mission. My husband, Peter, a seasoned church leader, is enjoying it for his devotional reading and recently asked me, "Are the other BSGs this good too?" If you haven't received the copy we sent to your church, please check with the BSG contact person or the person who distributes the mail. In my church, I added it to the library after introducing it in sharing time. We hope it brings blessing however it is used. 

The executive of Mennonite Women Canada is looking forward to an additional executive meeting right after the concluding worship of the Special Delegate Assembly of Mennonite Church Canada this October 15. Please pray for us! We will be bringing a resolution to remain under the organizational umbrella of Mennonite Church Canada at the Assembly and will then meet afterwards to see how our planning needs to adjust to changes the nation wide church has decided on. Therefore, you will not be receiving the customary fall issue of our Connections newsletter before then, but will receive a report from us after that.

In the meantime, it has come to my attention that some of the women's groups in our congregations may not have received our 2016 Annual Report Book, Continuing the Call with its Opportunities for Giving Form on page 20. That was certainly not our intent! While there are many structural changes occurring in our nation wide church, ministry needs and many opportunities continue, and the donations of your women's group remain most desired and appreciated. 

As always, we look forward to hearing about what is happening in your area. Mennonite Women Manitoba's Spring Retreat report and the BC Women's Ministry Inspirational Day report are now posted on our blog mennowomencanada.blogspot.com. We hope you will soon see more reports there from across the country.

Elsie Rempel
MWCanada Secretary/Treasurer

Shirley Redekop
MWCanada President

Note:  MW Canada's 2016 Annual Report Book is available on line.  Click here.

Sep 17, 2017

BC Women's Ministry Inspirational Day - May 8, 2017

Better late than never! The following photos were sent in by Waltrude Gortzen, who represents BC Women's Ministry on the Mennonite Women Canada executive.  She has served with enthusiasm in this position for many years and is looking forward to retirement.  


Guest Speaker was Marlene Kropf, writer of the 2016 Bible Study Guide that we publish in partnership with Mennonite Women USA and MennoMedia.

Display of items representing transitions we face in life
Emmanuel Mennonite Church in Abbotsford hosted the day which included worship activities and lunch. The theme was "Trusting God in Life's Transitions"
Spring flowers and a gift at the table for each woman
Registration and visiting

Our Worship Team

Addendum below: October 16, 2017

Change and New Beginnings

The annual MCBC Women’s Inspirational Day that Emmanuel hosted on May 6 was memorable—and not just because of the arrival of a firetruck with sirens blaring! Yes, halfway through Marijke Olson’s opening prayer, the church’s fire alarm went off and after sitting there confused for a moment, we all exited the building (thanks to Janette Thiessen’s clear-headed instruction; why is it human nature NOT to jump up automatically when we hear an alarm?) until the firefighters arrived to check it out and found nothing amiss, and we returned to the day’s activities.

The real memories came from our special speaker, Marlene Kropf, whose topic was “Who Am I Now? Trusting God in Life’s Transitions” Using examples from her own life, Marlene talked about change and transition at all stages of life. “There is a before and an after, and we are not the same after,” she said. Marlene described the three stages as we move from one lifepoint to another, whether it be marrying, having children, a new job, moving, or death of a loved one. They are ending of one thing, the in-between stage, and the new beginning. Saying goodbye can be costly and painful, she said, and too often we are caught in the “messy middle” that we would like to hurry through. In dealing with this time of uncertainty, she asked us to remember that God is, God is for us (all), and God is actively at work in our lives, within the context of our lives.

Of course one of the joys of such an event is the connection with old friends and making new ones. Mary Derksen, from Emmanuel M. Church describes this encounter:

“When everybody was walking around looking for some place to sit, I wandered in looking for a table where I didn’t know anybody. I sat down beside a young woman – young for me! Her mother was beside her. Margaret was from Ebenezer M. Church; Erna, her daughter, was from a Pentecostal church in Chilliwack. After getting acquainted, Erna asked, ‘Were you in that mission prayer book?’ ‘Yes,’ I said. ‘I remember praying for you when I was a kid,’ she responded. An instant connection! What a gift to meet Erna! Just then a friend from another church, Alice, sat down beside me. ‘Oh, I want to meet you, too,’ Erna said, and continued, ‘Your husband baptized me in the Eden church when I was a teenager!’”

It was a great day all around. We all left inspired, in the words of our speaker, to celebrate new beginnings!


By Amy Dueckman – for EMC NewsletterJune 2017 Volume 14, Issue 5

Women Walking Together in Faith - September, 2017 - "Embracing traditions"


Mel Harms, a member of Warman Mennonite Church, represents Saskatchewan Women's Ministry on the board of Mennonite Women Canada. She is the newest rep to our organization and this is the first article she has written!  It appeared in the September 11, 2017 issue of the Canadian Mennonite.  She starts her article with a few questions ---- "Have you ever wondered about your family traditions? What are they and where did the come from?"  Click here to read her reflections. 

Sep 8, 2017

Marlene Bogard - "It's Time" - a reflection on sexism in the church


This article, in which Marlene Harder Bogard reflects on sexism in the church and how we as women can empower one another, was originally published in Summer 2017 for Timbrel.  Marlene is the executive director of Mennonite Women USA. She lives in Salem, Oregon and attends Salem Mennonite Church.


Complete this phrase:
“ ______ like a girl.” Once upon a time, it was considered an insult to run like a girl, or throw like a girl. Because, well, it was likely perceived that doing anything like a girl was inferior to doing it like a boy.
Thankfully, we are evolving so that such phrases are no longer given much attention or power, right? Today, we can complete the phrase this way: Study like a girl. Invent like a girl. Code like a girl. Debate like a girl. Preside like a woman. Preach like a woman. Lead like a woman. Climb like a woman. Legislate like a woman.
And yet, sexism is alive and well in the broader church and in the Mennonite Church. For example, when my husband Mike and I joined a Midwestern church in the 1982, I called the man who was in charge of the printed church directory and asked him if women could be listed by their first names so that I would not be “Mrs. Michael Bogard.”
It had never occurred to him. I was delighted to enlighten him, because I did have a name, and I wanted to be known for who I was as an individual, not as my husband’s wife. That simple phone call was a moment of empowerment for me and all other married women in that congregation.
Even today, there are women in Mennonite circles who do not have a vote, a voice.
In 2015, I visited with a 40-year-old woman who confided to me a recent decision: She was not permitted to teach an adult Sunday school class, so her family was moving to another Mennonite church where her gifts would be welcomed and celebrated.
This past year, the Mennonite Women USA office received an email from Carren Ouma, a Kenyan recipient of one of our scholarships for international women who deeply desire to study theology and the Bible:
“Let me express my heartfelt gratitude to the good women of Mennonite USA. Four years ago I joined Moi University to pursue studies towards my Bachelor of Education. Financially I was not able to make it, but thank God for the IWF that I have been receiving that has brought me this far.
I am now in my final year and my last semester is beginning September 12; I am hoping to complete by April 2017 and to graduate in either September or December 2017.
My life has completely changed ever since and I have to say I am no longer a dry bone as before. I am living again! Aaron’s staff has not only sprouted but has budded, blossomed, and will soon produce almonds. (Numbers 17:8). What a miracle!
My passion is to remain a Teacher of the Word of God at school, in the church and in the community at large. This is what I have been doing and I pray that I continue to do so to the ends of the earth! Thank you very much for offering the opportunity to study and to be fully equipped for the ministry.”
These three stories represent empowerment in various contexts. At times, women must take matters into their own hands in order to express their prophetic voices. In other circumstances, we depend on others to deliver support and encouragement and to help us find a way when there seemingly is no way.

Today, as we celebrate 100 years of Mennonite Women USA, I embolden you to be deliberate in empowering others. It’s time!   

Aug 23, 2017

Anna Liechty Sawatzky Interview


This interview was done by Mennonite Women USA and with their permission we are sharing it on our blog.



Q&A with 

Anna Liechty Sawatzky

author of the 2017 Bible Study Guide 

"Live your Call"




Posted on August 22, 2017



How did you, working full-time and the mother of four active sons, make time to write Live Your Call?

A lot of my writing and thinking was done in dribs and drabs, here and there. I do a lot of driving for my job so early in the writing process I got John’s Gospel on CD from the library. I listened to that while I was driving and contemplating the theme of mission. After I had selected scriptures and themes, I worked on one text at a time, reading it over and over and then pondering it while driving. The devoted time I spent sitting down to work was much less than the time I spent writing in my head. I find that this is how I work best anyway. I like to work on something for a little while and then give it time to percolate. When I come back to it, thoughts have formed more clearly in my mind. Toward the end of my writing time, I had to have some more devoted time to sit down and write.

What is your experience with Bible study guides?

I don’t have a lot of experience specifically with Bible study guides. What inspired me more was conversations, talks, books, and articles over the years that have given me what I call a “clarifying concept”. I love it when someone gives me a framework or a concept to understand something. A very important example is the one I use in the BSG, the concept of mission as “ministry in the dimension of difference.” The author, Titus Presler, gave me words to understand something and un-muddied the waters for me. I have had many other similar experiences over the years, sometimes in unexpected places. It was this sense of clarity with deep study of scripture that I wanted to bring to the guide.
How does studying the Bible empower women?
One of the things that I loved when working in South Africa was how the Bible was what everyone had in common. We worked with a Bible school for leaders of African Initiated Churches and the majority of the students were women. We came together seven times a year to study the Bible. You didn’t have to have other books, you didn’t need to know what the scholars said, you didn’t even need to be able to read, you just had to be open to reading or hearing deeply to understand what God had for you. It was amazing what understanding we could form when we were all working together on a text. The other thing I love about the Bible is that there is always new meaning to be unearthed. You can read a story over and over again and always get something more from it. This process is open to anyone and can be very empowering.
Why focus on mission and service? How can mission and service be applied to home?
Mission is who we are as the church. As soon as we stop caring about those outside our doors, we have lost ourselves. We are all called to reach outside ourselves with the Good News, but for each of us the call will look different. I wanted the lessons in this guide to equally applicable to those who are called to service as those who are called to evangelism. And there are endless ways of doing mission within each of these broader categories.
Mission can be applied at home. The definition of mission I work with is that it is “ministry in the dimension of difference.” Ministry is that which we do for our own and it is important. When we cross some kind of barrier or wall to offer the Good News, we are doing mission. These barriers are all around us and can be found at home as well as far away.
What is one of your favorite sessions from Live Your Call? Why?
Each of the lessons came out of experience I have had with finding new understanding of scripture and life. I organized the chapters in pairs because our faith is so deeply rooted in paradox—Jesus is the servant leader who died that we might have new life. And so it is equally true that we are called to give as to receive, to engage as to retreat. The other reason it is hard to choose a favorite is that as soon as I was done, I could think of things I would add or do differently. I have already had several invitations to meet with groups and I welcome these opportunities because they help to make the study more dynamic for me. I am sure that in another year, conversations with others will have helped me to grow and I would construct the guide slightly differently. I do pray that through the guide, women will connect more with God and with each other in a way that emboldens them to live the call that God has for them.
Anna Liechty Sawatzky is a home visitor with a child abuse prevention program. She and her husband, Joe, served as missionaries in South Africa with Mennonite Mission Network. Anna, Joe and their four sons currently live in Goshen, Indiana.
Interested in materials for fall study? Click here to purchase the 2017 Bible Study Guide Live Your Call, written by Anna Liechty Sawatzky.

Aug 10, 2017

Photos from Women Encountering Jesus Retreat in Manitoba

Women Encountering Jesus
A Spring Retreat offered by Mennonite Women Manitoba

Note:  I posted a write up about this retreat on August 8 and the following day received these photos from the event!  I've included the write-up and inserted the photos.

You could have heard a pin drop, as the 45 women who had gathered for this day of retreat, received the stories of women encountering Jesus. We were treated to stories drawn from Scripture, early Christian history and the contemplative tradition, along with stories from more recent history, all presented in simple and profound dramatic form.

Stories of women encountering Jesus (1)
Stories of women encountering Jesus (2)
Stories of women encountering Jesus (3)

Laura Funk, Guest Speaker
Our retreat director, Laura Funk, a local Spiritual Director and founder of Butterfly Journeys, crafted the day to introduce us to the voices of these historic women as well as to practices of prayer that have stood the test of time. Laura also prepared a resource booklet for participant in which she stated, “My hope is that if you sense the need for a change in your own spiritual journey, something here might help you along.” And the booklet provides many such helps; reminders of the practices we tried out, and descriptions of the ones we didn't have time to try.
Kathy Giesbrecht, Mennonite Church Manitoba




Our day together truly was a day of retreat as we engaged and selected and experienced a wide array of prayer practices. The prayer stations, created by Laura, included written introductions and explanations to each (in the provided booklet) that invited us to enter each practice.  Women from a wide variety of age groups waded in, sometimes on their own, sometimes with a group of others. Retreaters affirmed that being introduced to new ways of encountering Jesus was refreshing for them.  They also affirmed the use of storytelling as a way to ‘hear anew’ the words of Jesus. 

Prayer station - an array of prayer practices

Prayer station - an array of prayer practices

Lunch and snacks were included!
This Retreat looked distinctly different from the Sister Care Seminar we had offered in the spring of 2016. Both the ‘returning retreaters’ from 2016 and the new women who ventured into this years retreat encouraged us to keep providing such events.
Lunch and snacks were included!
As the MWMB planning group reflected on this event, it affirmed that allowing the Retreat to go in distinct directions served our hopes of offering differing spaces for women in our community. MWMB will continue to offer Spring Retreats, along with the other initiatives it is pursuing. Next year's event will focus on mental health. Watch for news about it this fall.
Laura Funk with Elsie Wiebe,
President of Mennonite Women Manitoba


Submitted by Kathy Giesbrecht

Aug 8, 2017

Mennonite Women Manitoba - Spring Retreat 2017

Women Encountering Jesus
A Spring Retreat offered by Mennonite Women Manitoba

  You could have heard a pin drop, as the 45 women who had gathered for this day of retreat, received the stories of women encountering Jesus. We were treated to stories drawn from Scripture, early Christian history and the contemplative tradition, along with stories from more recent history, all presented in simple and profound dramatic form. Our retreat director, Laura Funk, (a local Spiritual Director and founder of Butterfly Journeys)  crafted the day to introduce us to the voices of these historic women as well as to practices of prayer that have stood the test of time. Laura also prepared a resource booklet for participant in which she stated, “My hope is that if you sense the need for a change in your own spiritual journey, something here might help you along.” And the booklet provides many such helps; reminders of the practices we tried out, and descriptions of the ones we didn't have time to try.


    Our day together truly was a day of retreat as we engaged and selected and experienced a wide array of prayer practices. The prayer stations, created by Laura, included written introductions and explanations to each,(in the provided booklet) that invited us to enter each practice.  Women from a wide variety of age groups waded in, sometimes on their own, sometimes with a group of others. Retreaters affirmed that being introduced to new ways of encountering Jesus was refreshing for them.  They also affirmed the use of storytelling as a way to ‘hear anew’ the words of Jesus.

    This Retreat looked distinctly different from the Sister Care Seminar we had offered in the spring of 2016. Both the ‘returning retreaters’ from 2016 and the new women who ventured into this years retreat encouraged us to keep providing such events.
As the MWMB planning group reflected on this event, it affirmed that allowing the Retreat to go in distinct directions served our hopes of offering differing spaces for women in our community. MWMB will continue to offer Spring Retreats, along with the other initiatives it is pursuing. Next year's event will focus on mental health. Watch for news about it this fall.


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Submitted by Kathy Giesbrecht