It Stops With Me

2015 6 5 Sarah BixlerSarah Ann Bixler deeply loves Mennonite Church USA and its commitment to God’s healing and hope. She has served throughout Mennonite Church USA in education, youth ministry, curriculum writing and conference leadership. Sarah is currently a Master of Divinity student at Princeton Theological Seminary in New Jersey, where she lives with her husband, Benjamin, and their three children.

 

A few weeks ago, as part of a visioning process for the future of the Women in Leadership Project, Sarah was asked this question:

How can you imagine the church transformed through the work of the Women in Leadership Project?

Her response came in the form of a poem.

 

It Stops with Me

Years after grandpa

Gave up his plain suit,

I sat alone with grandma.

She fingered her covering.

“Sometimes I wonder

Why I still wear this thing,”

She confided in me.

 

I was taught that it stood for

Humility,

Based on biblical principles

And that I could wear it, too,

As a sign of respect

For the older generation.

 

As I grew

I wondered

What else it symbolized.

 

I wondered why Mennonite women

Could be picked out of a crowd

But Mennonite men could not.

 

Why Mennonite women

Gave talks and testimonies,

Not sermons.

 

Why Mennonite women

Were excellent Sunday school teachers

But not elders or bishops.

 

And the realization

Punched me deep in my gut

That sexism

Is alive and kicking

In my beloved Mennonite church.

 

Then I had children.

 

These realities from my lifetime,

Will they be part of theirs?

Will my daughters blossom and grow

Only to find themselves

Restricted in how they can follow God’s call?

 

Well, this is going to stop

With me

And my generation.

I refuse to accommodate

The intergenerational transmission

Of sexism.

I will not allow

The devaluation of women

To be passed down to my children.

 

 

But I cannot do it alone,

Because sexism in the Mennonite church

Is a systemic infection.

That is why the Women in Leadership Project

Is so vital

For the health

Of us all.

 

This is the gift we give our daughters:

To recognize, suffer and challenge

Sexism in our own time

So they won’t have to.

To wrestle with discrimination,

To speak up when it’s easier to be silent,

To break the cycle

And assume responsibility

For the next generation.

 

 

This is for you,

Eve and Juliet.

It stops with me.

 

 

The Women in Leadership Project is an initiative to name and transform sexism within Mennonite Church USA.  Come to our vision casting event at KC2015 on Friday, July 3, at 9:45 a.m., and visit the WLP page to contribute your perspective toward the future of our project and see more responses as they are submitted.

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