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Stitch by Stitch, Seed by Seed: Sixty years for Mennonite Women Canada

   
 


Tickets for the Mennonite Women Canada 60th Anniversary luncheon on July 14 at Mennonite Church Canada Assembly 2012 were sold out.

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Tables were specially set for the Mennonite Women Canada 60th Anniversary luncheon on July 14 at Mennonite Church Canada Assembly 2012—complete with take - home napkins (tucked into coffee cups) sewn by Waltrude Waltrude Gortzen of the MWC Executive.

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July 17, 2012
- Amy Dueckman

Richmond, B.C. — Mennonite women in Canada (MWC) have sown seeds of peace while they sewed blankets for relief. They celebrated 60 years of service July 14, 2012 when 130 women gathered for a special luncheon at Mennonite Church Canada’s annual Assembly.

The afternoon’s theme was “Scattering Seeds for a New Season” based on Mark 3:26-34, where Jesus tells the parable of seeds falling on different kinds of soil with different results. Decorative plants, a seed guessing game and take-home napkins with dandelion puffs added to the atmosphere.

Members of the MWC executive presented a history of women’s ministries in Canada, beginning with church sewing societies in the early 1900s where women gathered to make items for overseas relief. By the 1940s, Mennonite women realized the value of organizing provincially and with women in the United States in what was then the General Conference Mennonite Church. Together they oversaw conference work and relief projects for Mennonite Central Committee, especially in the post-World War II years.

On July 8, 1952, 300 women gathered in Gretna, Man. to formally organize as the Canadian Women’s Conference, the predecessor to Canadian Women in Mission and eventually Mennonite Women Canada.

Since the 1960s Mennonite women’s societies have continued in various forms, whether as sewing/blanket making groups, or as social activists speaking out on issues such as substance abuse, war toys, family violence and pornography.

A sharing time following the presentation revealed many stories and memories of women across Canada. Valéria Alvarenga, pastor from Recife, Brazil, gave greetings from Latin American women, and Lovella Schellenberg of the popular Mennonite Girls Can Cook cookbook shared the vision she and her co-authors had for their project, and for giving the proceeds to charitable projects. The 2012 MennoMedia study guide for women’s groups,  Let Justice Roll Down by Rebecca Seiling, was introduced.

Evelyn Buhr of Edmonton, youngest member of the Mennonite Women Canada executive, says the first seeds for her interest in women’s ministries were sown in childhood in Henley, Sask. in the late sixties and early seventies. She recalls going with her mother to the meetings, and how her mom would clean the house from top to bottom before the women’s group came over. Buhr says she loved listening in, even as a young child. “I like to watch people and I always liked to listen to the adult conversation. Now I am the president of Alberta women.  . .  I love meeting people from across the country and I love women of all ages. It’s all about connecting with women and all the things we can be with a larger body,” she concludes enthusiastically.

See complete coverage of Assembly 2012