Previous Events

Each spring the Sistering Committee hosts a gathering for woman across both Eastern District and Franconia Conference to share in one another’s lives and learn together. Here are past events that have been held: 

  • Información en español a continuación

    Darkness unfolding as LIGHT
    Journeying with Ruth and Naomi

      Towamencin Mennonite Church
    April 14, 2018; 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

    “The Lord has made me walk in darkness rather than light. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for the Lord’s compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lam. 3:1-3, 21-23

    Come and reflect on the Biblical story of Naomi and Ruth, and hear our speakers share about their own journeys of grief and renewed hope.


    Marilyn Handrich Bender (left) began her ministry as co-pastor/church planter with her husband John in Raleigh, NC where they started a Mennonite Church and then pastored for 18 years. She has also spent 10 years employed by Ten Thousand Villages in both Pittsburgh and Allentown, PA. Presently, she is one of four co-pastors at Ripple Church, a congregation in Allentown that builds relationships with neighbors who are socially marginalized. Offering spiritual direction to pastors and community members brings a lot of joy to her as well. She is mother to three daughters scattered across the United States. Kara lives in St. Louis, MO; Mikaela, her husband, Joel and their children: Beckett and Addison, live in Pasadena, CA; and Alisha lives in Washington, DC. Marilyn enjoys visiting her children and grandchildren, playing games, making music, watching birds in the backyard, hiking and visiting national parks.

    Rose Bender Cook (right), Marilyn’s sister-in-law, is a mid-westerner at heart, although she has been on the east coast since her time at Messiah College (Harrisburg, PA). Her first career was in secondary education, but she followed a call to pastoral ministry and received her Masters of Divinity from Bethel Seminary of the East (PA) in 2005. In 2010, Rose was called to serve as Lead Pastor of Whitehall Mennonite Church (Whitehall, PA), where she continues to pastor. She is the founding member of  Zumē House, an intentional Christian community in Allentown (PA). A part-time pastor, Rose supplements her income working as a research assistant with BrokoppBinder Research & Consulting, LLC and doing some adjunct teaching for Eastern Mennonite University-  Lancaster. She enjoys eating at ethnic restaurants, taking walks, laughing, and hanging out with her Karen neighbors. This October, Rose married Bruce Cook and is now a step-mom to Alexandra, Christopher, and Tiffany. As Rose often says, “This was not the life I imagined, but I am very grateful.”

    This event will be bi-lingual, in English and Spanish. Everything said will be translated so that all may participate fully.

    Your help is requested in spreading the word about this gathering. Feel free to print out flyers to have available at your congregation or to mail to your own network(s). Flyers are available in English and Spanish.

    We look forward to a wonderful day of learning, sharing our stories and wisdom, and being together in God’s presence!

    Sponsored by the EDC-FMC Sistering Committee, a local branch of Mennonite Women USA.



    Las tinieblas que nos llevan a la LUZ
    Caminando con Rut y Noemi

      Iglesia Menonita Towamencin
    14 de abril, 2018, 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

    “Me ha hecho andar en las tinieblas; me ha apartado de la luz. Mero algo más me viene a la memoria, lo cual me llena de esperanza: El gran amor del Señor nunca se acaba, y su compasión jamás se agota. Cada mañana se renuevan sus bondades; ¡muy grande es su fidelidad!” Lam. 3:1-3, 21-23

    Ven y reflexiona sobre la historia Bíblica de Noemi y Rut,y escucha a las presentadoras compartir sobre sus propios viajes de dolor y la esperanza renovada.


    Marilyn Handrich Bender (izquierda) comenzó su ministerio como co-pastora / sembradora de iglesias con su esposo John en Raleigh, Carolina del Norte, donde fundaron una iglesia menonita y pastorearon alli durante 18 años. Ella tambien fue empleada por Ten Thousand Villages durante 10 años en Pittsburgh y despues en Allentown, Pennsilvania. Ahora ella es parte del equipo pastoral en la Iglesia Ripple, una congregación, en Allentown que desarolle amistades con vecinos socialmente marginados. La oportunidad de ofrecer dirección espiritual  a los pastores y miembros de la comunidad también le trae mucha alegría.

    Ella tiene tres hijas esparcidas por los Estados Unidos. Kara vive en St. Lois, MO, Mikaela, su esposo, Joel y sus nietos: Beckett & Addison, viven en Pasadena, California, y Alisha vive en Washington, D.C.

    A Marilyn le gusta visitar a sus hijos y nietos, jugar juegos, tocar música, observer pájaros en el patio trasero, y visitar y caminar los parques nacionales.

    Rose Bender Cook (derecha), aunque ella tiene preferencia a la parte mediooeste de los EEUU, Rose ha estado en la costa este desde su tiempo en Messiah College. Su primera carrera fue en educación secundaria, pero elle siguió un llamado al ministerio pastoral y recibió su maestria de divinidad del Seminario Bethel de Oriente en 2005. En 2010, Rose fue llamado para server como Pastora Principal de la Iglesia Menonita Whitehall (Whitehall, PA), donde continúa como pastora. Ella fue la miembro fundadora de Zumē House, una comunidad Cristiana intencional en Allentown (Pensilvania). Como ella es pastora de tiempo parcial, ROse complementa sus ingresos trabajando como assistente de investigación en BrokoppBinder Research & Consulting, LLC y como docente adjunta para el Seminario EMU- Lancaster. Le gusta comer en restaurants étnicos, pasear, reír y salir con sus vecinos Karen. En octubre, Rose se casó con Bruce Cook y ahora es madrastra de Alexendra, Christopher y Tiffany. Como Rose a menudo dice: Esta no era la vida que imaginaba, pero estoy muy agradecida.

    Este evento será bilingüe, en inglés y español. Todo lo dicho se traduchirá para que todos puedan participar plenamente.

    Se solicita su ayuda para difundir esta reunión. Siéntase libre de imprimir folletos para tener disponibles en su congregación o para enviarlos por correo a su propia red (s). Los folletos están disponibles en ingles y espanol.

    Esperamos un maravilloso día de aprendizaje, compartiendo nuestras historias y sabiduría, y estra juntos en la presencia de Dios!

    Patrocinado por el Comite de Hermandad EDC-FMC, una rama de Mujeres Menonitas EEUU.



      Towamencin Mennonite Church
    March 18, 2017; 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

    girlwithpurse5The British queen’s granddaughter played with her grandmother’s purse during an official photo shoot, clearly delighting in this privilege. Other children like playing dress-up with adult purses as well, not caring what they represent. Yet a purse can be a metaphor for our lives as women. We are handed down stories about ourselves and others, prescriptions for how to live, rules and commands, as well as messages of love and joy. Sometimes we are able to carry these with pleasure; sometimes they become toxic or too heavy, and we must sort through them and discard what no longer has meaning or a positive impact for us. Sometimes our “purse” belongs more to our grandmothers and mothers than to us and we must find what meets our own needs.

    girlwithpurse2During our Women’s Gathering there will be time for praise and prayer, input by Tamira Good, discussion, and sharing with each other. This time apart from our daily lives is a retreat designed to help us shed what keeps us from God and from enjoying a fulfilled life, and accept what we are being offered that is life-giving.

    This event will be bi-lingual, in English and Spanish.
    Everything said will be translated so that all may participate fully.  See the flyer here (Espanol flyer).   


    Read a Recap of the event here: Carrying Grandmother’s Purse by Anne M. Yoder




    Towamencin Mennonite Church
    March 12, 2016; 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

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    Join us for A Day Apart of worship, storytelling, reflection, laughter, learning, blessing!

    Sharing our stories of being unique as well as different,
    of what shapes us at various stages,
    of what ties us together as women.

    View the Flyer for SISTERING FOR LIFE here. (Espanol: SISTERING FOR LIFE flyer in Spanish)


    Read a Recap of the event here: Women Meet to Tell Their Sacred Stories




    9:00 A.M. – 2:30 P.M.
    ueva Vida Norristown New Life
    25 East Marshall Street
    Norristown, PA. 19401


    SandyDrescherLehmanSandy Drescher-Lehman is a social worker in the position of  Pastor of Pastoral Care at  Souderton Mennonite Church, and is also a spiritual director. She is married to John; they have two children, Maria (25) and Jonathan (22). Sandy and John own a contemplative retreat center ( 

    Christine Waanders is a clinical psychologist with more than 15 years of ChristineWaandersexperience providing therapy to children and families. She sees clients in private practice in King of Prussia. She also works with the Violence Prevention Initiative of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, implementing programs to prevent and address bullying. She is a member of West Philadelphia Mennonite Fellowship. Christine is married and the mother of two boys.

    FEELING A NEED TO BE MORE CONNECTED? We know that your Saturdays are precious to you, but we believe that this opportunity to meet together as women is worth leaving home for! Here’s what others have said blessed them most about our gatherings:

    • Coming together with others and sharing and listening!
    • The words of comfort from other women
    • Honest sharing from the heart
    • Being reminded that we need to take time and care for ourselves
    • The gathering of Christian women with respectful appreciation.

    See the poster for the event here: Womens Gathering (Espanol: (Womens Gathering Spanish) View the Bulletin Insert insert (Espanol: Bulletin Insert Spanish)

    EDC-FMC Sistering Committee: Lynne Allebach; Doris Diener; Pastor Donna Merow; Bobbi Smisko; Kristi Wile; Anne Yoder

    Read a Recap of the event hereFranconia Conference & Eastern District Women Gather



    SATURDAY, MARCH 8, 2014;  9:00 A.M. – 1:00 P.M.  at Methacton Mennonite Church, 3081 Mill Road, Norristown, PA 19403 (Fairview Village, Worcester);  610-584-4080


    RhodaCharles 2010smallRhoda Charles, from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, has served as MW USA board chair since 2011. She attends Habecker Mennonite Church, where she has been active in their ministry of resettling Karen refugees from Burma. Rhoda has frequently been a speaker at women’s gatherings. She and her husband ran a photography studio together for over 30 years. She is the mother of three adult children and a grandmother.

    PriscillaBenner2014cropped Priscilla Benner is a local physician practicing medicine in Pennsburg, PA, and the director of the MAMA Project (Mujeres Amigas Miles Apart), begun through a partnership in 1987 between local Mennonite women in our area and Mennonite women in Honduras. She is is the mother of five adult children and a grandmother.

    View the poster and bulletin insert.

  • JUNE 1, 2013WomensGathering2

    An opportunity to gather together as women is being planned for Saturday, June 1st. “Beauty for Brokenness: Growing toward Wholeness” will be presented at Salford Mennonite Church from 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Sister Mary Julia McKenzie and Pastor Angela Moyer will share from their experience with encouraging recovery and growth in those who have suffered brokeness in relationships, in health, in faith, and in other ways. We hope that all who attend will be able to identify areas in their own lives, and in those whom they know, where God’s invitation to wholeness might be heard and responded to.


    OCTOBER 12, 2013


    An exciting opportunity to gather together as women is being planned for Saturday, October 12th. “Sistering: The Ties That Bind (Without Strangling)” will be presented at Souderton Mennonite Church from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Participants will have an opportunity to share from their experiences with being supported, or supporting others, throughout their lives, and how we do this without choking the life from one another. We hope that all who attend will be able to identify areas in their own lives, and in those whom they know, where God’s invitation to “sister” one another, locally and globally, might be heard and responded to.

    View the invitation card here and a small poster here.

  • CAROLYN HOLDERREAD HEGGEN is a psychotherapist specializing in trauma recovery. She presently serves on the Mennonite WomenUSA Board of Directors. Although she spent most of her clinical and academic career in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she was a founding member of Albuquerque Mennonite Church, she currently lives in Corvallis, Oregon and is an active member at Albany Mennonite Church. Carolyn has also lived and worked in Latin America, Pakistan and Nepal. She is the author of Sexual Abuse in Christian Homes and Churches and is a frequent speaker and workshop leader on family violence and abuse, pastoral boundaries, gender issues, trauma recovery and PTSD (post-traumatic stress syndrome). She and her husband Richad are the parents of three adult children.


    RHODA KEENER has served as executive director of Mennonite Women USA since the fall of 2000, a role she now shares with Ruth Lapp Guengerich. Her background includes teaching and mental health counseling in a Mennonite congregation, a medical center, and a domestic violence shelter. Rhoda is the co-editor with Mary Swartley of She Has Done a Good Thing: Mennonite Women Leaders Tell Their Stories. She and her husband Bob live in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, and are members of Marion Mennonite Church. They are parents of three adult children and have four grandsons.