ON BEHALF OF THE Women in Leadership Subcommittee (WILS), who envisioned and directed this project, I thank those members of the Lancaster Mennonite Conference who have long advocated for women with leadership gifts.
More active and concentrated efforts to bring these women and their stories to the attention of conference leaders began in the 1980s with a group called Friends of Mutuality. By May 1982 this group had become the Task Force on Women in Church and Family, a committee officially formed by the conference to study womens issues. Inspired by the tireless efforts of Friends of Mutuality, the task force completed an extensive survey on beliefs and practices of Lancaster Conference women in August 1983. When the task force ended its work in October 1991, they passed the baton to WILS, a group organized to give long-term guidance concerning womens issues to the Leadership Council of the Lancaster Mennonite Conference.
Out of WILS came the vision for this book. Special thanks thus are are owed to the six original WILS membersMarilyn Kennel, Clyde Kratz, Lois Nafziger, Donna Mack Shenk, A. Grace Shenk, and Paul Zehr. In particular, Paul Zehrs undying enthusiasm for the project and Marilyn Kennels second-mile work on the early research made my task much easier.
I would also like to thank those additional WILS members who served after I signed on to do the writing in March 1997Priscilla Garrett, Jason Kuniholm, Carol Oberholtzer, Mary Yuninger Rittenhouse, and Ruth Weaver. In particular, Ruth Weavers direction as chair of WILS and her faithful emotional support for me proved invaluable as I struggled through the hard stages of writing about other womens lives. Special thanks to Carol Oberholtzer for guiding the work of the editorial committee who read the manuscript and offered much helpful advice. Thanks to Sue Aeschliman Groff, Nathan Hege, Janet Kreider, and Glen Roth who joined Carol for this important part of the process.
Other people to whom I turned for advice and support include Doug Burkholder, Doris Kolb, Maribel Kraybill, Jerry Peters, Joanne Hess Siegrist, Mildred Steffy, Michael and Alonna Sprunger, A. Grace Wenger, and Chester and Sara Jane Wenger. I also thank Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society for making its archives so accessible to me. Special thanks to Steve Ness, who helped me search for many boxes of archival material, and Carolyn Charles Wenger for making the library a truly great center for research about the Lancaster Mennonite Conference.
My highest gratitude goes to the fourteen women whose stories are told in this book. I especially thank those living at the time of this writing. Their open and willing sharing transformed how I thought about Mennonite women in leadership. I thank them for allowing me to tell in-progress stories, knowing that by the time of publication details of their personal narrative would have changed. May God bless each one.
WILS also wishes to thank the thirty-eight individuals
and several churches whose generous financial
contributions made this book possible.
Copyright © 1999 by Herald Press and used by Pandora Press U.S. with Herald Press permission