Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada – A downpour of rain preceded a shower of flowers as women paraded dancing and drumming to the shamiana (tent) that would shelter the All India Mennonite Women Conference (AIMWC) 6–9 October 2016. Bihar Mennonite Mandli (BMM) church hosted nearly 400 women representing nine national churches from India and Nepal who travelled by bus, train and foot to attend AIMWC at the mission compound in Chandwa, Jharkhand, India.
“The women were not discouraged, but assembled in their best attire under the shamiana, singing songs of praise and thanking God for bringing all the delegates safely to this place,” says Ranjana Nath, AIMWC executive committee member.
Main speaker and Mennonite World Conference vice-president Rebecca Osiro from Kenya spoke from Hebrews 12 about spiritual food and perseverance. Osiro explained her subjects so well, “everyone was able to understand” despite linguistic and cultural distinctions, says Peacock.
“[Osiro] showed us how to recognize the difference between things that hinder our walk and things in life that entangle us and keep us from moving forward,” says Krista Vanderhout, an intern with Mennonite Central Committee’s SALT program.
The conference nurtures spiritual growth through congregational singing, sermons, skits, dance and small group Bible study, and also offers workshops on practical issues like women’s health. Many participants don’t have other opportunities to learn about subjects like breast cancer and menopause.
“During the past three years during all my travels to churches, besides sharing about MWC, I encouraged women to come for this conference,” says Cynthia Peacock, MWC South Asia regional representative.
“It was so gratifying to see the large turnout,” says Peacock, grateful for “very capable women” who served on the committee. “We thank God for the way in which we were able to overcome many obstacles.”
“BMM conference members and the youth played a very important role to make this conference happen,” says Nath. At this event, all 11 previous office bearers since AIMWC’s beginning in 1977 were acknowledged for their contribution to the association.
Representatives of funding partners MWC, Mennonite Central Committee India and Mennonite Christian Service Fellowship of India (MCSFI) brought greetings and presented about their work.
“With the financial assistance of MCC, MWC and MCSFI, and donors, this conference was a grand success,” says Nath.
As a time to worship and pray together, “enjoy delicious food and chai…and share about the many different paths that brought us all together, [AIMWC] was a great encouragement,” says Vanderhout.
—Mennonite World Conference release by Karla Braun, from reports by Ranjana Nath, Cynthia Peacock and Krista Vanderhout
Click here to see a photo gallery of the All India Mennonite Women Conference.