Next in the Among Women project is a day-long women’s program at CMC’s Annual Conference, held July 28-31 at Frostburg State University in Frostburg, Maryland.
You can find out more about the conference at www.cmcrosedale.org, and you can read about the women’s program the full conference brochure. The women’s program runs from 9:30 to 11:30 on Friday morning and from 1:30 to 3:30 that afternoon.
Please come to hear the culmination of this year-long conversation. We’d love to see you!
Here’s the Among Women program:
You are sitting in a room this morning with lots of women representing
different spheres. Some women sitting in this room today
are single. Some are married. Some women work at home and
home school their children. Some women leave their homes each
morning for work. Some women are divorced, and some have buried
their husbands. Some women with us today are finding their
ways in a new culture.
Often you might find it hard to talk past these differences. What if
you accidently say something hurtful? What if someone hurts you?
Maybe you won’t know what to say to someone whose life is so different
from yours. Or maybe you can find little sympathy for the
choices another woman has made.
Despite all these differences, we are called to be one body. How can
we grow in understanding of each other?
What would happen, the conference planning committee wondered,
if we gathered together a group of women who represented different
spheres and who loved God and who were brave enough to talk
with each other?
What if we sent these women on a series of retreats with a leader
who could help them talk, really talk, with each other?
So we did.
And today these women are here to share with you what they
learned about each other . . . about themselves . . . and about God.
Opening Worship c/o Leona Graybill
For all our sisters out there—
Glimpses of the Among Women
Retreats c/o Vicki Sairs
Among Women Panel: Round 1
c/o Lynette Showalter
Special Singing c/o Anita Lehman
Missionary Spheres c/o Shirley Miller
Among Women Panel: Round 2
c/o Lynette Showalter
Offertory—make checks payable to
Among Women Workshops
Gathering Worship c/o Leona Graybill
Special Singing c/o Anita Lehman
Choric of Praise c/o Lynette Showalter
Closing Remarks and Worship
Panelists and Workshops
Oh, Baby, Where Art Thou?
Life Without Children
Workshop Leader: Dot Chupp
Lane Center, room 113
Dot is full of surprises. She’s driven semi
trucks professionally, makes pizzas in her wood-fired oven, and has
listened to a preacher say in his sermon that it is sinful for a married
couple not to have children. And she loves children, by the way.
Go to Dot’s workshop if you’d like ideas on how to encourage a
young woman who desperately wants a baby and is unable to get
pregnant, how to relate to women who don’t have children by
choice or because of infertility. In this workshop you’ll hear about
questions one probably should not ask and about statements that
can be hurtful. And, as you get to know Dot, you’ll find that she has
lots of fun in her sphere of marriage without children.
Pacifiers, PB&J, and Purpose
Life at Home with Preschool
Workshop Leader: Sabrina Lehman
Tawes, room 228
When Sabrina has quiet moments—which
isn’t often—you’d find her reading, cooking, blogging, sewing, photographing,
and teaching piano. The rest of the time, and especially
during long, challenging days, Sabrina tries to remember Deuteronomy
6. As she changes a diaper and serves up another meal, her
goal is to impress the words of God on her children.
Go to Sabrina’s workshop if you know a young, stay-at-home
mother who struggles to find time for relationships beyond her preschoolers.
If you would like to know how to provide emotional,
spiritual, and practical support to a stay-at-home mom, this is the
workshop for you.
Sooo . . .Why Aren’t You Married?
Understanding the Joys and
Heartaches of Your Single
Daughter, Sister, Friend
Workshop Leader: Mim Musser
Tawes, room 208
Mim travels the continents in her work for Rosedale Mennonite
Missions, but she also travels through the lives of people—
functioning as a counselor, a friend, a confidante. She lives in the
middle of people—in a condo village, sometimes with meetings by
the pool, and is good friends with the GPS. Talk with Mim for even
a few minutes, and you’ll find a sense of peace and love.
Go to Mim’s workshop if you want to support and understand a
single woman. What’s it like to be single at 29, 39, 49, 59, 69, and 79?
This is a rich opportunity for you to ask questions, hear discussions,
and get tips from single women across the decades.
Life After Divorce
Beauty after Ashes
Workshop Leader: Elnora Miller
Tawes, room 232
This mother of two and grandmother of 4
(almost 5) grandchildren doesn’t spend a whole
lot of time on the rocking chair. Many nights, you could find Elnora
in the halls of Goshen General Hospital working as a registered
nurse (this, after having gone back to school at age 41 to complete a
degree)—that is, if she’s not in Haiti on a medical mission or out to
eat with a group of close friends. And, although she’s been divorced,
divorce certainly no longer defines her. Elnora shows with
her life that it is possible to live victoriously after divorce, that God’s
abundant grace is sufficient.
Go to Elnora’s workshop if you’d like to know how to support
someone going through a broken marriage, how to help single parents,
how to provide a place of belonging for someone who has felt
rejection and misunderstanding. Elnora’s testimony is clear: God
can make beauty out of ashes.
My Name Isn’t Yoder
Workshop Leader: Naomy Ndungu
Lane Center, room 111
Naomy Ndungu’s children are doing well in their new schools,
and she likes her neighbors and church, but her move from Kenya
to the United States has also brought her pain. She left behind in
Kenya relationships, roles, and recognition. Sometimes the transition
has felt bumpy. For example, in Kenya, she taught high school
for more than 20 years. She is college educated, with the equivalent
of a Master’s degree, but the process of trying to get degrees, credentials,
and experience recognized in the United States has proved
Perhaps you know a woman who is living inter-culturally. Or,
perhaps you would like to learn to know some women who are new
to your community from another country. Go to Naomy’s workshop
to get helpful tips on how to be friendly, what is good to say,
and what is best avoided.
A Widow’s Brew
Workshop Leaders: Louella Mast;
Tawes, room 156
Apparently widowhood isn’t a time for sitting
around. Not, at least, according to Martha Stoltzfus
and Louella Mast. For Martha it’s been, among
other things, learning to maintain a car and
change a sweeper belt, making sure not to miss
watching a University of Kentucky basketball
game, and moving from Bowlings Creek to
Turners Creek. Louella, on the other hand, is
still trying to decide if she will fulfill a life-long
dream of skydiving and certainly doesn’t want
to give up snow mobiling!
But these two active widows have also spent hours in tears. Go
to their workshop if you know a widow and want to know how to
talk with her, pray with her, and how to support her. This is an opportunity
to ask questions about grief and hear answers from two
wise and lovely women.
Double Duty; Double Delight
Workshop Leader: Carla Hochstetler
Tawes, room 152
She’s a busy mom (two four-year olds and a
seven-year old) and a busy principal (730 students),
but, while Carla Hochstetler feels a double calling, she also
sometimes feels lonely. She hasn’t found many role models of twice
-called women in the church. And she faces the dilemma everyday
to find the balance between the two callings of her life. But Carla
loves that her own children see the passion she has for her job—the
opportunity to be a shining light in a dark world.
Do you want to support or understand a woman who juggles
two callings? Go to Carla’s workshop to explore the joys, pains, and
satisfactions of this sphere.
Woman in a Shoe
Figuring Out What to Do
Workshop Leader: Naomi Byler
Tawes, room 222
Twelve children—and she’d do it all over
again (if she were younger, that is). Naomi
Byler spends her days homeschooling in the morning, having appointments
in the afternoon, and attending meetings and enjoying
family time in the evenings. And somewhere in between the meals
get cooked, the house gets cleaned, and the laundry gets put away.
Hers hasn’t been an idyllic life, though, with multiple traumatic experiences
in her youth and periods of exhaustion as an adult.
Go to Naomi’s workshop if you want to understand the life style
of a homeschooling mother with a large family. How has Naomi
learned to be not always in a hurry, and to turn her work at home
into worship for God? You’ll find out in her workshop.
How to Continue the Conversation
The Among Women conversation of today can continue in your
home community. Here are some tips for making it happen:
1. Gather a small group of women representing different spheres.
This is a conversation, not a program. For this conversation, the
number of women should be small enough that women can sit
in a room together, see each other’s expressions, and hear the
tones of each other’s voices.
2. Invite women who are ready and able to both talk and listen.
People who are fresh in pain may need, instead, the help of a
support group. The women you choose for this conversation
need to be strong enough to ask hard questions and to answer
hard questions. These women should be willing and able to
speak for other women in their spheres who may not be able to
talk openly at this time.
3. Focus on listening to stories instead of debating issues and
concepts. The idea for an Among Women conversation is to
hear from women, themselves, how God has interacted with
them in their spheres.
4. Identify specific foci—the joys of the spheres, the challenges of
the spheres, how the church can support and extend the ministries
of women in the spheres.
5. Plan for a variety of listening/sharing processes. Here are a
Around-the-circle short responses to a question;
Individual reflection and then self-reporting to the group;
Dyad dialogues about a specific question and then reporting
each other’s thoughts about that question to the group;
Question asking in front of the group of one woman by the
Inner and outer circle dialogues.
(If you have questions about these processes and want ideas for more,
please contact Lynette Showalter firstname.lastname@example.org.)
6. Find a skilled facilitator. Women need to feel safe to talk about
their lives. Find a facilitator who is a sensitive leader and can
help women both talk and listen.
7. Set a supportive ambiance. It’s easier to talk when well-cared
for. Beauty, good food, comforting drinks, comfortable seating,
and quiet places to reflect all increase the quality of the conversation.
8. Assemble a support team who can provide the setting for this
conversation and who will pray for the participants.
9. Be sure participants in the conversation and the team supporting
the conversation all operate with the following understandings:
That confidences will be kept;
That dignity will be preserved;
That God has varied sanctified plans for women;
That according to Psalm 119:130, the “utterance of hearts
10. Before and throughout the conversations stop to pray, and at the
end commission each other to work for God, each in her own
Or, perhaps, you’d rather scale the conversation smaller—maybe
one-on-one, possibly for a year-long, intentional relationship for
learning, understanding, and encouragement. In fact, as a first step,
you could choose a workshop with this goal in mind.