Ohio Mennonite Women celebrate together

Photos by Willie Stoltzfus and Heidi Childs


By Willie Stoltzfus

Quilts were the theme of the Time of Celebration during Women’s Retreat on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017, at Camp Luz — a time of celebration and closure for the Ohio Mennonite Women (OMW) as an organization. The Camp Luz chapel was decorated with various colorful quilts, a reminder of the rich tradition, and the many pieces of our lives that have come together over the years. The quilts were a unique treasure — evidence of many hours women spent sewing together and sharing their gifts and stories with others.

Willie Stoltzfus and Roxanne Kauffman, who served as co-chairs, led the Time of Celebration event.

Special memories were shared by Jackie (Nalungo) Aduma, Susan Hofstetter and Myrna Ramseyer, as well as many others who were present. The women in attendance enjoyed time of fellowship, sharing wonderful memories about the impact of other women and the organization on their lives. Willie read the children’s book Oma’s Quilt by Paulette Bourgeois, a story about a girl and her mother who created a quilt for Oma of her many treasured memories. Anita Hooley Yoder, author of Circles of Sisterhood, shared stories and significant contributions by Ohio women to organized women’s programs. The book is the history of mission, service and fellowship in Mennonite Women’s organizations.

The rich memories reflected the significance of OMW, a gathering of women with the goal “to minister to the women of Ohio Conference of the Mennonite Church USA, by resourcing women’s groups and individual women, as we nurture our life in Christ, study the Bible, utilize our gifts, hear each other, and engage in mission and service.”

Special thanks was expressed to all the women and churches who have supported the OMW missionaries and agencies, as well as the many women who provided leadership to OMW on the past. Women were encouraged to continue to give support financially by making donations directly to the missionaries and agencies.  (Addresses for these missionaries and agencies are posted on Conference website.)

Willie and Roxanne, as well as Anita Hooley Yoder, challenged the women to embrace the history and contributions of women, to continue telling stories and to find ways to connect with other women, mentoring and leading through other venues at a local level, close to home.

The program closed with a litany of lament, celebration and hope (see litany), singing and prayer. Each woman present received a small quilt magnet, as a reminder of the many contributions of OMW and a challenge to find ways to connect in the future. The Time of Celebration ended with fellowship, sharing of cake (provided by Camp Luz), looking at OMW memorabilia and ongoing storytelling.

The Executive Board made the decision to dissolve the organization on July 29, 2017.

OMW Executive Board at the time of dissolution: Co-chairs: Willie Stoltzfus and Roxanne Kauffman (who also filled the vacant positions of Vice-chair and Secretary of OMW for the past several years); Treasurer: Melanie Miller; Day of Inspiration Coordinators: Myrna Ramseyer and Angela Steiner.

Missionaries and agencies most recently supported by OMW:

Adriel School; Camp Luz; Sunshine Foundation; Mennonite Women USA; Nafzigers in Nepal with Mennonite Mission Network; Bridge of Hope School – Liberia; and The Well, Sutters in Thailand. (For addresses of these missionaries and agencies, see http://bit.ly/OhioMennoniteWomen.)