Oct 31, 2019

Looking back to the beginnings of "Women walking in Faith" column

From the November 12, 2007 issue of the Canadian Mennonite:
Introducing a new feature: When the Mennonite women’s magazine, Timbrel, recently decided to shift from being a bi-national to a U.S.-oriented publication, I approached Canadian Women in Mission to find a way to not lose those stories of Canadian women and Christian faithfulness. Together, we developed a feature page devoted to these stories that we’ll be publishing six times a year. The first edition is on page 30 of this issue. (Editor/Publisher, Tim Miller Dyck)
Women walking together in faith
Pennies, passion and prayer continue to pay dividends
by Irene Klassen

The lowly penny has been ridiculed and scoffed at, yet songs and books have been written about it, so its value cannot be over-estimated.

During the Depression of the 1930's a penny or two was often all a housewife could save from her meagre income from selling butter and eggs. Even so, these women had a zeal for missions, and compassion and concern for the missionaries who, after giving up their personal life, went to the mission field, and who, when their work was done, returned penniless. Out of this compassion the Two Pennies and a Prayer project was born.
In 1935 the Women’s Missionary Association (WMA) in the U.S. adopted the Missionaries Pension Fund of the Mission Board as one of its projects. The intent was to create an endowment to be paid to the pension fund. Each WMA member was asked to donate two cents a week and pray. By 1945 the endowment fund had grown to $22,600.61, with more than two-thirds of it coming from the penny project.

Nearly 20 years later, the Board of Trustees thought the money should all go into the General Fund, but WMA objected strenuously and it remained a separate entity. In 1953 the WMA, later called General Conference Women in Mission (GCWM), adopted a motion that the fund be allowed to grow from the then $65,000. And so it continued to grow and gather interest.

When Canadian women organized Canadian Women in Mission (CWM), as well as a number of provincial groups, they picked up the project and for many years faithfully designated $1.04 per member annually to this project. Even as the amount seemed so small, the importance of the additional prayer was emphasized.

By then, government and other pension funds had been established and returning missionaries received a regular income from these sources. Although groups continued to donate to the fund, it seemed insignificant and its origin was forgotten. So, it just lay there silently while it accumulated interest.

When U.S. Mennonite women and CWM separated in 2003, the fund was divided and the portion that CWM received was $70,341.15. A decision had to be made to use these “Pennies for Pension” or “Pennies from Heaven” to honour the spirit in which they had been given. After a period of discernment and prayer, it was decided that this fund would support women doing ministry through Mennonite Church Canada’s Christian Witness Council.

The fund has been given the new name of Pennies and Prayer Inheritance Fund. Donations to the fund can be made through MC Canada.

Irene Klassen has been involved with Women in Mission for 55 years, during which time she served as Canadian vice-chair of the General Conference Women in Mission from 1983-92.


This fund gives us an opportunity to share our blessings with others. In a country where many have more than enough, we can invite friends to contribute to it financially as their gift to women today, on milestone birthdays, anniversaries, memorials or celebrations of achievement. The gift is given twice as women celebrating women support other women. This fund is about giving that keeps on giving. What a blessing! --- Audrey Mierau Bechtel, Saskatoon, SK

Our mothers and grandmothers had a vision of helping missionaries with physical and spiritual needs, and in 2007 CWM has the same vision for healing and hope. Today we are so much closer to the whole world, and have access to information at a speed that still astonishes. With today’s technology we can see results as they occur. We have turned this rich legacy of caring for others to sup- porting women sharing their gifts in making the gospel of Jesus Christ relevant to people wherever they are. --- Evelyn Buhr, Edmonton, AB

As with the widow’s mite, a few pennies bless others. Through this gift, we “employ it for one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace” (I Peter 4:10). My hope is to see this fund increase and that our daughters and granddaughters can continue sharing to engage the world with the reconciling gospel of Jesus Christ. --- Shirley Redekop, Floradale

--> The testimonials come from three CWM executive members. Page coordinated by Leona Dueck Penner.

Women Walking in Faith - September 2019 - Finding spiritual fruits in Mennonite Orchards

Ly Vang, a Hmong refugee, arrived in Canada from Laos in 1980.  "We didn’t know anything about the Mennonite people but, when we attended church services, we experienced love and comfort and felt warmly welcomed."

When I was growing up on a farm in Laos, we planted our own fruits, and my parents always said, “Whenever you eat fruit that tastes good, save the seed so you can plant it. That way you will have more delicious fruit!”

Read about her spiritual journey and her involvement with 
Mennonite women HERE.
Ly Vang is married and has five children. She has been a member of First Hmong Mennonite Church for 38 years and has held many positions; currently she is on the prayer and missions team and teaches Sunday school.

Note from Canadian Mennonite:

Women Walking in Faith - August 2019 - Igniting flames of hope in the midst of ending

"On June 30, at our annual general meeting in Abbotsford, B.C., Mennonite Women Canada elected to dissolve our nationwide ministry for the purpose of releasing energy and assets to the regional churches so that they can grow stronger in their ministry with and through women within their contexts."

So begins the article written by Shirley Redekop (President) and Elsie Rempel (Secretary) under the heading Women Walking in Faith, our bi-monthly contribution to the Canadian Mennonite.  
 You can read it HERE.

The photos below were taken by June Miller, Executive Assistant,
Mennonite Church Alberta

MW Canada members vote to dissolve the organization and turn the assets over
to the five regional churches for future women’s ministries. 

Susan Martens Kehler thanked MW Canada for supporting the training of nursing
students in Taiwan at the Nurses Teaching School, where she taught for many years.

Elsie Rempel, left, and Shirley Redekop pack up MW Canada’s logo following
the meeting to dissolve the organization at MC Canada’s Gathering 2019 in
Abbotsford, B.C., on June 30. 

Women Walking in Faith - June 2019 - Layers of faitfulness

"A mentor once told me that, in her view, a female preacher should wear “straight lines” behind the pulpit. That is, a suit. Straight lines command greater authority, which means people are more likely to give your words credit. As someone who has never worn a suit in her life, this didn’t sit well with me and would make me feel like an imposter. Fortunately, I’ve generally felt listened to when I’ve been behind a pulpit—unless I’m making a poor attempt at a joke! "

Read the entire article by Carmen Brubacher HERE.

Carmen Brubacher is/was the WMCEC rep to MW Canada and delights in her role as a pastor at Waterloo North Mennonite Church, Waterloo, ON.

Intergenerational hands are layered at 
Waterloo North Mennonite Church.
(Photo by Carmen Brubacher)

Mennonite Women Alberta host Irma Fast Dueck at their Spring Retreat

“We grew up never talking about Mary. It was like the Catholics got Mary in the divorce settlement and Mennonites got a 30-minute sermon,” said Irma Fast Dueck in her opening talk at the annual Mennonite Church Alberta women’s retreat held from June 7 to 9, 2019 at the Sunnyside Retreat Centre in Sylvan Lake."

Read the article by Joanne De Jong which appeared in the June 19 on-line issue of the Canadian Mennonite.  CLICK HERE

Valerie Proudfoot of Edmonton First Mennonite Church, right, presents Irma Fast Dueck with a picture of a Mennonite Mary. Entitled ‘Mennonitische Madonna,’ the artwork by Helena Dueck of Pennsylvania was originally given to Proudfoot in 1986 as a gift of encouragement. (Photo by Joanne De Jong)