Symposium to explore mothering in many contexts
by Melanie Zuercher
NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Three local residents contributed to a recently published book on mothering that has now given birth to a one-day symposium to be held on the Bethel College campus.
Rachel Epp Buller, Jennifer Chappell Deckert and Christine Crouse-Dick were at Faith & Life Bookstore Sept. 28 to sign copies of Mothering Mennonite, published earlier this year by Demeter Press of Toronto.
Epp Buller is co-editor, with Kerry Fast, of the book, and Chappell Deckert and Crouse-Dick contributed chapters.
Epp Buller is assistant professor of art and Crouse-Dick is associate professor of communication arts at Bethel College. Chappell-Deckert has served as Bethel adjunct faculty in social work and conflict resolution and recently began PhD studies.
The three are now working hard on the “Mothering Mennonite Symposium” which takes place Oct. 26 on the Bethel College campus.
The symposium is open to everyone. The $10 fee is payable on-site. Pre-register by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The symposium was scheduled to coincide with the visit to campus of Marlene Epp, professor of history and peace and conflict studies at Conrad Grebel University College, Waterloo, Ontario. Epp will be giving the annual Menno Simons Lectures at Bethel Oct. 27-29.
Although Epp does not have an essay in Mothering Mennonite, she is “a groundbreaking scholar and the first to write about Mennonite women and gender in [the context of] Mennonite history,” Epp Buller says. “Many of the essays in Mothering Mennonite refer to her work.”
Epp will be present for the symposium, a day of readings, presentations, conversations and panel discussions on what it means to “mother in a Mennonite context.”
Writers, historians, stay-at-home mothers, church workers, social activists and college professors will speak and/or facilitate discussion on a variety of topics, including (but not limited to) gender roles and stereotypes, mothers in the mission field, infertility, sexuality and step-mothering.
Among the local presenters are mother and daughter Mary Herr and Ellen Awe, Newton, who will speak about their common love of books and how this has carried them in life, and new Newton resident Hannah Heinzekehr addressing “millenial mothering.”
North Newton natives Stephanie Krehbiel, Lawrence, and Anna Dick Gambucci, St. Paul, Minn., will present on sexual ethics and social activism, respectively.
There are three panels: Hesston College faculty members Kendra Burkey, Marissa King and Karen Sheriff LeVan reflecting on whether female faculty at Mennonite colleges are pushed by gender stereotypes into being the “nurturer” in the student-faculty relationship; Crouse-Dick with Mollie Sultenfuss, Janet Voth and Peter and Rachel Eash-Scott, all of Newton, looking at “expanded models of mothering”; and Chappell Deckert with Susan Jantzen of Hillsboro and Sara Regier of North Newton talking about mothering in relief and development settings.
Other presenters are Mothering Mennonite co-editor Kerry Fast, Toronto (Old Colony Mennonite mothering); Kirsten Beachy from Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg, Va. (infertility); social worker Bill Loewen, Sioux Falls, S.D. (social construction of a Mennonite mothering identity); Audrey Roth Kraybill, Lancaster, Pa. (nurturing those who have been wounded by the church); historian Kimberly Schmidt, Washington, D.C. (step-mothering as a Mennonite missionary to the Cheyenne); and Kansas native Jessica Penner, now from James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Va., author of a new novel about Russian Mennonite women.
“Some of the presentations arise out of personal experience, while others are based on research or speak more to family history,” said Epp Buller. “Many of the essays in the book interweave scholarly and narrative voices.”
The symposium begins at 8:30 a.m. Oct. 26 in the Administration Building on the Bethel campus and will conclude by 4 p.m.
For more information, visit Mothering Mennonite Symposium on Facebook.
Bethel College is the only private college in Kansas listed in the 2013-14 Forbes.com analysis of premier colleges and universities in the United States and ranks in the top five “Best Baccalaureate Colleges” in the Washington Monthly annual college guide for 2013-14. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see www.bethelks.edu.