To be a sisterhood of mutual encouragement and spiritual nourishment by
Reflections from East Africa Go to Breaktime!
2014 Women's Retreat--April 4-6
First, Doris Diener, SMC’s Minister of Mennonite Women, was ordained in the Friday evening service. If we are correct, this is the first ordination across our denomination that comes at the request of Mennonite Women.
Second, we had a lovely late-night hayride Saturday night! The moon and the stars peeked through the trees as we crept along the paths, through the canopies of trees, and down by the lake. It was beautiful!
Thirdly, we all used translators--the little electronic devise that you plug your earphone into to hear the speaker's words in your language! The English-speakers used them to understand Raquel Guevarra’s messages in Spanish and the Spanish-speakers used them to understand the announcements and instructions that were given in English. Alma does a super job of translating both languages! She is a gift to us!
Two Oasis Experiences in March
Fifty women from the Unity Pentecostal Church of God Mennonite in Miami gathered for an Oasis Experience called "The Designer-Daughter" on Saturday, March 15. Dafney made the plans, Pastor Ducois opened the morning's event, Keren let the worship, and our wonderful translator interpreted the message. Everyone participated to make this a meaningful morning!
Saturday, March 1, a group of women met at Ashton holders, and what needs to happen within us to allow that to happen. Jane Ann McLachlin shared one of her stories from her book, Connections, which presented a portrait of the reality of our struggle. At breaktime, these three women gifted us with their hospitality and delicious food.
December 7--Christmas Oasis (An Oasis Experience is a mini retreat.)
The Christmas Oasis was hosted by Ashton Community Fellowship.The morning's input included three vignettes in which the role of Mary the mother of Jesus was played by Ruth Ovalle and Carol Zuelhke and Joseph was played by David Clark. What an interactive morning!
Iglesia Arca de Salvacion, Ft. Myers
September 7--Oasis Experience
Location: Emmanual Mennonite Church, Gainesville, FL
Time: Saturday, September 7--12:00 PM to 4:00 PM
June 15 Oasis Experience in Kenya
Sunday afternoon, June 15, at least forty Kenyan women gathered in the DOVE Christian Fellowship church tent in Kalangwari, Nairobi, Kenya, to have an Oasis Experience entitled "Unwrapping God's Gift of Love" with SMW Minister Doris Diener.
Following the worship service, the women had lunch in an open building up on the hill before reassembling in the sanctuary to be encouraged by God's proclamation of His love for them.
A well-planned beautiful tribute to mothers and daughters!
Theme: Let Go and Let God!
Main Speaker: Sister Hattie Crawford
Location: Lakewood Retreat Center, Brooksville, FL
Presenters: Kathie Shawger and Debbie Lee
Kathie read the story, The Patchwork Path by Bettye Shroud, and demonstrated the freedom quilts that she has made. Debbie Lee shared how the Mennonites facilitated slaves on their way to freedom in the latter 1800's as well as the denomination's stand on modern day slavery.
Sister Hattie Crawford heralded the challenge to “Let Go and Let God!” as she warmly and passionately shared on releasing our worries, anxieties, problems, baggage to God and the mandatory role of forgiveness.
Saturday afternoon was filled with a variety of activities including a silent auction, book exchange, hiking, swimming, etc. In the evening, Doris Diener challenged the women to be "treasures in the rubble"--valuable overcomers--in a world of trouble where God is working to craft good from the disappointments of our lives. After all, Jesus has overcome the world, and He lives in us!
Sister Ethel Mays was installed as Pastor of Newtown Gospel Chapel on Sunday, February 17, 2013. Marco Guete, Conference Minister, gave the Sunday message. He together with Lee Miller, District Minister, officiated the installation ceremony. Words of encouragement were bestowed upon the congregation by Doris Diener, Minister of Women and Larry Diener, Conference Moderator.
Newtown also bid farewell to long-time member, Essie Kates, who is moving to Minnesota later this week to be with family. NGC Members enjoyed a farewell fellowship meal with Essie after Sunday morning service. May God’s hand of guidance rest upon both Pastor Mays and Sister Kates as they both explore new territories.
Pastor Mays, Carol Clark, Essie Kates
Submitted by Carol Clark
Lydia De Jesus was licensed as the pastor of Iglesia Luz y Verdad in Lakeland, Florida, Saturday evening, November 17. She is credentialed by Southeast Mennnonite Conference. Members of the congregation and friends from the local community as well as Iglesia Evangelica Menonita Nueva Vida and Bahia Vista Mennonite Church participted in this celebration of God's call on Sister Lydia. May God give her wisdom and strength as she pursues God's presence and annointing on her ministry!
Dawn Yoder Graber steped aside as moderator of Southeast Mennonite Conference at the conclusion of SMC Annual Assembly, October 6. She has graciously served the conference the last four years with competence, intentionality, and warmth. Thank you so much, Dawn!
Women's Luncheon at SMC Assembly--October 6
The Southeast Mennonite Conference Annual Assembly was Friday evening through Saturday, October 5 and 6, at Ashton Community Fellowship in Sarasota, FL.
Saturday noon, the women had a special luncheon. Lori Yoder, SMW President, hosted the event. Debbie Lee from South District shared about the gift of hospitality coming from the heart and expressing itself in our attitudes and motives, our words, and our faces. Handmade hospitality gifts were available for sale.
Date: Saturday morning, September 29, 2012
Time: 9:00 AM to after lunch
Event Summary: Women's Prayer Tea--Gathering is a time of reacquainting with former friends and meeting new ones! Elizabeth lead a time of worship. Juanita presented a teaching on intercessory prayer, encouraging all of us to be intercessors. Several women shared their testimonies of God's working presence in their lives. Then we prayed for each other, our country, and especially for women around the world who do not know the hope and confidence of God's love. We enjoyed lunch in the park across the street.
Translation: Thank you, Alma, for translating from Spanish to English (and sometimes from English to Spanish) so that everyone could understand.
"Compassionate listening is spiritual work," write Heggen, Keener, and Guengerich in Sister Care: Equipping Women for Caring Ministry. Indeed it is! But it can open the door to healing.
This session included information about different kinds of listening; different kinds of stories; confidentiality and its limits; the challenge of boundaries in compassionate listening; the difference between love and agreement; the need for caring listening before making judgment; the causes for discomfort on the part of the listener.
Three women shared their struggles and healing journeys through the pain of barrenness, racism in the church, and sexual abuse. Following each presentation, the attendees assessed their listening skills and responses to the speaker. It was a moving, challenging morning.
Thank you for trusting me with your story.
I will hold it tenderly in my hands.
I will take it to Jesus for you
because I love you.
2012 Women's Retreat, April 13-15
What a profound experience to see women ministering to each other by sharing their life experiences; their understanding of what Jesus is saying to them; singing together; playing together; confessing and praying for each other.
Responses to the weekend included the comments below.
"My first time attending. I love it. I enjoyed the balance of leisure, fellowship and spiritual retreat."
"Continue to have retreats. I love the nails, massage, fellowship and sharing."
"This year's retreat has been a wonderful experience in worship sessions, fellowship and meeting new people.”
"The book activity was awesome."
"I love the manicures and photos."
"It was so wonderful! I enjoyed (the weekend) with all my heart and I am coming for sure next year. God bless all of you."
Sister Care Extension #2 March 31
Taking care of ourselves and others begins with embracing the person we are and the abilities and gifts God has given us.
For many of us, our brokenness isn't easily fixed or our wounding quickly healed. Sometimes we are left with life-time consequences. Carol shared her story-in-process with us.
These extensions are interactive, inspirational and fun! If you are interested in attending the next one, check out the "Future Events" page to find out the info you need.
This event is a leadership enrichment opportunity for the leaders of Mennonite Women throughout the USA. The acronym stands for "preparing, resourcing, encouraging, praising."
This year's PREP was hosted by Southeast Mennonite Women at the Bahia Vista Mennonite Church in Sarasota, FL. The theme was "Gifts of the Sea." Ruth Guengerich, Co-Executive Director of MW USA, was the principal input person and supported by Berni Kaufman, Executive Assistant of MW USA, Dawn Graber, Southeast Mennonite Conference Moderator, and Doris Diener, SMW Minister. Women leaders, young and not-so-young, gathered from around the country. The weekend concluded with an eco boat tour at Mote Marine Acquarium and dinner at Troyers Dutch Heritage Restaurant.
About forty women gathered around the theme: Claiming Our Identity as Christ's Beloved.
They shared times of learning, listening, sharing, ministering, and praying together.
"I'm looking forward to the remaining sessions!"
SMC Annual Assembly, August 31 and September 1, 2011
The Mennonite Women luncheon at our SMC Annual Assembly at Ashton Community Fellowship was our first time together. Besides being a part of the worship, sharing and updates with the other conference pastors and lay leaders, we were able to enjoy connecting with each other as sisters.
The sisters of South District pulled off a delightful day of unity and peace. We met for study and sharing in groups and rotated from one place to another--in the church and outside under the trees and in a tent. We ate lunch together outside in the warm weather so familiar to Floridians. Our lunch was provided by the women of the churches. We were there!--Haitian-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, Garifuna-Americans, and European-Americans--sharing our stories and our faith with each other.
Each of us has a story--a story of good times, bad times, painful times. These stories need to be told, listened to, and be opened for healing, growth, and encouragment.
On October 21-22, 2011, fifty-one women of Southeast Mennonite churches gathered at Ashton Community Fellowship in Sarasota, Florida for two days to learn how to use the balm of Jesus' love to care for themselves and their sisters. The goal of the Sister Care Seminar was to equip women with effective caring skills because they are most often the preferred responder in a time of tragedy, loss, grief and pain.
It was a very meaningful time of laughter and tears, of learning and sharing.
Look for the Sister Care Extensions on our "Future Events" page!