Women in Mission (General Conference Mennonite Church)
The Women's Missionary Association of the General Conference Mennonite Church, an auxiliary to the General Conference Church, met in a delegated session once every three years, at the time of the General Conference. It was organized in 1917 at Reedley, CA. Before that, women's meetings and inspirational missionary programs sponsored by women had been held at General Conference sessions. The first recorded business meeting was held at Berne, IN, on 16 October 1902 with Sister Hillegonda van der Smissen as president and Sara Sprunger as secretary. Between conference sessions the work of the Association was carried on by the Executive Council, which was composed of president, first and second vice-presidents, secretary, chairmen of Literature Committee, Committee of Advisers, and Committee of Young Mission Workers. Each member of the Council served for six years, except the chairman of the Literature Committee, whose members served nine years each. The treasurer for the Women's Missionary Association and the editor of the monthly periodical, Missionary News and Notes, were appointed by the Executive Council. Unser Missionsblatt was the Canadian sister publication provided in the German language. The annual budget in 1958 totaled $70,288.
The purpose of the organization, as stated in the first constitution, adopted at Hutchinson, Kansas, 23 August 1929 was to glorify God and serve the Conference and its missionary representatives (1) in the support of home and foreign missions; (2) in the spread of mission interests; (3) in the promotion of cooperation between mission societies and missions; and (4) in the production and dissemination of missionary literature.
Those who had served as president up to 1958 were Sister Hillegonda van der Smissen, Mrs. S. S. Haury, Mrs. J. E. Kaufman, Mrs. A. M. Lohrentz, Mrs. D. P. Ewert, and Mrs. Olin A. Krehbiel. Others who served in varied capacities for many years were Susanna Schroeder, Martha Goerz, Mrs. Frieda Regier Entz, and Mathilda Voth. -- ECL
Women in Mission, formeriy known as the Women’s Missionary Association (the name changed in 1974), was an auxiliary of the General Conference Mennonite Church, and mets in a delegated session once every three years. It was organized in 1917 at Reedley, CA, with informal meetings dating back to 1902. In 1986 Women in Mission gave its first report to the triennial meeting of the General Conference Mennonite Church at Saskatoon, SK.
Between conference sessions the work of Women in Mission was carried on by an advisory council, composed of president, United States and Canadian vice-presidents, secretary, the chairman of the Literature Committee, and district and provincial advisors and presidents. The coordinator for Women in Mission and the editor of the bimonthly publication, Window to Mission, are appointed by the Advisory Council. The annual budget for 1986 was $252,500.
The purpose of the organization was to help women become involved effectively in the mission of the church and to develop and use the diversity of women’s talents. From the early purpose of sewing for mission projects, the emphasis enlarged to include the support of missionary, relief, and educational projects. Women in Mission also contributed to the support of Mennonite Biblical Seminary, Mennonite Central Committee, and Africa Inter-Mennonite Mission. It subsidized the printing of publications in the areas of peace, mission, and women’s biographies, and it published its own history, Women in Search of Mission, by Gladys Goering.
Women in Mission merged with the Women’s Missionary and Service Commission (Mennonite Church) in 1997 to form Mennonite Women. Following the realignment of the General Conference Mennonite Church, the Mennonite Church (MC) and the Conference of Mennonites in Canada into Mennonite Church USA and Mennonite Church Canada, Mennonite Women USA formed in 2003. It worked in partnership with its Canadian sister organization, Canadian Women in Mission, to produce print resources. -- RU
See also Mennonite Men
Goering, Gladys V. Women in Search of Mission: A History of the General Conference Mennonite Women’s Organization. Newton, KS, 1980.
Handbook of Information, General Conference Mennonite Church. Newton, KS (1988): 96.
Manitoba Mennonite Women in Mission. History of Manitoba Mennonite Women in Mission, 19421977. Winnipeg: Manitoba Mennonite Women in Mission, 1977.
Van der Smissen, Hillegonda. The History of Our Mission Societies. N.p. : Literature Committee of Women’s Home and Foreign Missions, 1929.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, pp. 975-976; v. 5, pp. 934-935. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Loewen, Edith C. and Ruth Unrau. "Women in Mission (General Conference Mennonite Church)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1989. Web. 23 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/W652.html.
APA style: Loewen, Edith C. and Ruth Unrau. (1989). Women in Mission (General Conference Mennonite Church). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 23 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/W652.html.