Beauty for Brokenness: Growth toward Wholeness

Womens Gathering 2013
Women from Franconia and Eastern District conferences attach symbols of healing to an oak tree at this year’s Beauty for Brokenness seminar. Photo by Anne Yoder.

by Lynne McMullan Allebach, Arise

On the morning of Saturday, June1st, thirty women came together at Salford Mennonite Church in Harleysville (Pa.) for the first women’s equipping event sponsored by the new Eastern District & Franconia Mennonite Conferences Women’s Committee.

Angela Moyer, co-pastor of Ripple congregation (Allentown, Pa.) and occupational therapist at Good Shepherd Rehabilitation, spoke about melding a clinical model for recovery from trauma with the story of Christ to bring healing for hurts, whether small or truly traumatic. She explained how we can choose to “act in” by doing things destructive to ourselves or “act out” by doing things that are destructive to others, or we can choose to heal by taking positive steps toward forgiveness, reconciliation, and peace.  Sister Mary Julia McKenzie, chaplain at Penn Foundation’s Recovery Center (Sellersville, Pa.), spoke about the work of recovery, especially as it relates to drug and alcohol addictions. She shared a poem about an oak tree as a symbol of resilience in the face of trials, then invited the participants to decorate items to be placed on a drawn oak tree as a part of the closing worship time.

Phyllis Chami shared a devotion she had written about Eve and Mary, two women of God. The devotion came out of her own personal trauma and how God has played a part in her growth toward wholeness. Lynne Allebach also shared the story of the loss of her son and how the care of others aided in overcoming her grief. Participants met in small groups to discuss their own trauma experiences and their need for recovery. The morning ended with a time of worship that included a version of “Beauty for Brokenness” with words written specifically for the gathering.

Franconia and Eastern District Conferences sponsored a seminar last year on training women for relationships of mutual care.  Responses to a survey taken after the training indicated an interest in continued equipping gatherings that address the needs of women. Anne Yoder, West Philadelphia congregation, answered the call for ongoing ministry and assembled a committee to begin brainstorming ideas. The theme of Beauty for Brokenness was chosen as a motif for the June event as a way of examining trauma and seeing how people may grow toward wholeness from places of brokenness.

Beauty for Brokenness was well received and there was support expressed for continuing to meet, probably twice a year.  “There were women from eighteen churches here, most from smaller congregations that do not have established women’s programs,” observed Yoder. “It is a joy to be able to provide a forum for so many who are looking for spiritual and emotional encouragement and for friendships with other women of faith. . . .  I am so grateful to see the Spirit moving among us, empowering us to sister each other through our life journeys.”

To join the planning team or to receive information about future gatherings, please e-mail Anne Yoder at