The Women in Leadership ministry of Mennonite Church USA (MC USA) has released a new Bible-based curriculum that explores the roots of patriarchy, which is described as a social structure in which men hold power over others. Entitled “Laboring Toward Wholeness: A Training on Dismantling Patriarchy,” the curriculum addresses the history and impact of systemic patriarchy — and looks at how God calls followers to respond through an intersectional lens.
“’Laboring Toward Wholeness’ invites us to consciously question what we’ve been taught the Bible says about God, men and women, and the ways we’ve traditionally functioned in religious contexts,” said Jenny Castro, one of the writers of the curriculum and former coordinator of Women in Leadership. “It challenges us to lean into new understandings that will transform how we show up in our relationships, families and faith communities — and to re-imagine what is possible when we creatively embrace the fullness of wisdom and the gifts women among us offer.” Castro is the director of programs at the Martinez Street Women’s Center, San Antonio, Texas.
Bonita Croyle, a member of the Women in Leadership steering committee and founder of The Ebenezer Project, will host an introductory webinar on the curriculum May 27 at 6 p.m. CDT. The webinar will feature a panel discussion with the authors. Register here. Following the air date, the webinar will be archived on the MC USA webinar page .
The curriculum is comprised of a comprehensive facilitator’s guide and a participant workbook. Both are available for download on the MC USA website for a suggested donation of $20, which will support the continued work of the Women in Leadership ministry.
The training program is ideal for in-person Bible studies and small/cell groups. The facilitator’s guide provides a suggested agenda for participants to engage in the curriculum over a two-and-a-half-day period (17-18 total hours), with periods of learning, interactive activities, discussion and reflection.
Topic headings include:
- Patriarchy is Alive and Well
- Patriarchy Affects Us All — Men Too!
- What Does the Bible Say?
- What Can I Do?
- God Calls Us to Act
“’Laboring Toward Wholeness’ offers a different perspective, rooted in the experiences of women of color who have lived, worked and worshipped among Mennonites for years, embracing this faith tradition as our own,” said Castro. “It dares to imagine what is possible when we all are invited to contribute to shape our collective faith and values.”
In addition to Castro, the diverse team of women Anabaptist writers and anti-patriarchy experts includes:
- Lorraine Stutzman Amstutz, M.S.W., is a foster care coordinator for COBYS Family Services in Pennsylvania, the former coordinator of Mennonite Central Committee’s (MCC) Restorative Justice program, and an author.
- Erica Littlewolf, of the Northern Cheyenne tribe of southeastern Montana, works for MCC Central States with the Indigenous Visioning Circle and is a member of the Women in Leadership steering committee.
- Chantelle Todman is a co-founder of Unlock Ngenuity — a consulting, coaching and therapy business — and a former member of MC USA’s Women in Leadership steering committee and intercultural leadership coach at Mosaic Mennonite Conference.
- Linda Gehman Peachey, D. Min., is a writer and a member of the Women in Leadership steering committee. She has also held several positions with MCC.
- Regina Shands Stoltzfus, Ph.D., teaches in the Peace, Justice and Conflict Studies department at Goshen (Indiana) College.
“This resource was created for church leaders and congregational members who would like to create a community and society that is more whole and more able to truly welcome, hear and affirm the gifts of all members,” said writer Gehman Peachey. “We hope people come away with a deeper understanding of themselves, our society and our Christian faith, and with some new tools for undoing and dismantling sexist behaviors and patterns in their families, communities and society.
“Laboring Toward Wholeness: A Training on Dismantling Patriarchy,” is one of several peacebuilding initiatives introduced by MC USA in the past year. Other initiatives include:
- “Defund the Police? An Abolition Curriculum,” a free, online, multimedia group study
- “Undoing Racism,” an online anti-racism resource portal
- The Justice Fund, a mutual fund that supports MC USA conferences and congregations actively working to combat poverty, dismantle racism, seek immigration justice or address police brutality/reimage policing
- Learn, Pray, Join: Cost of War, a campaign to raise awareness about the economics of war and the impact of militarism on our communities
- A collaboration with RAWTools, Inc., an organization that transforms donated guns into garden tools and art
Mennonite Church USA is the largest Mennonite denomination in the United States with 16 conferences, approximately 530 congregations and 62,000 members. An Anabaptist Christian denomination, MC USA is part of Mennonite World Conference, a global faith family that includes churches in 58 countries. It has offices in Elkhart, Indiana and Newton, Kansas. mennoniteUSA.org