Founding members depart MC USA Women in Leadership committee

Linda Gehman Peachey and Erica Littlewolf — Mennonite Church USA Linda Gehman Peachey and Erica Littlewolf — Mennonite Church USA

Mennonite Church USA’s Women in Leadership steering committee bid farewell recently to two founding members, Linda Gehman Peachey and Erica Littlewolf, after more than a decade of service.

WiL empowers Mennonite women in leadership, especially by centering the voices of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) women.

WiL began in 2012 after a 2009 churchwide audit revealed a decline in women providing leadership in Mennonite churches. Gehman Peachey and Littlewolf remained consistent members since the beginning.

They participated in initiatives including the anti-patriarchy curriculum “Laboring Toward Wholeness” and planning Women Doing Theology conferences in 2014, 2016 and 2018.

“Linda and Erica helped shape the mission and direction,” said Lorraine Stutzman Amstutz, MC USA denominational minster for peace and justice and WiL staff person. “Their historical knowledge of the work of Women in Leadership has been invaluable to the ongoing work of supporting women in leadership positions and addressing the systemic issues of patriarchy and white supremacy within the church.”

Gehman Peachey is a freelance writer who worked with Mennonite Central Committee as director of women’s advocacy and co-director of peace and justice ministries. She lives in Lancaster, Pa., where she attends Blossom Hill Mennonite Church.

She said her vision for WiL grew out of her “lived experience of sexism in the church and feeling excluded, like women were not full members.” She wanted to help “address some of those realities, as well as continue to address the violence and silencing that women experience” and lamented that “spiritually, the church has not been a nurturing place for women to develop healthy relationships with God, themselves and others.”

Littlewolf, who is Northern Cheyenne and Suhtai, resides on the land of the Northern Cheyenne tribe of southeastern Montana. She has worked for MCC Central States with the Indigenous Visioning Circle and grew up attending White River Cheyenne Mennonite Church.

Littlewolf believes she was initially asked to join the group to represent young women — she was in her early 30s when the group was created — and Indigenous women. She also felt “a responsibility to represent not only my community and my local church but my tribe [and] . . . as best as I could, Indigenous people in general.”

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