Attendees were blessed with the stories, ideas and wisdom of an exciting line-up of keynote speakers. Sally Armstrong, a Canadian journalist who has spent decades covering the effects of war on women and children, urged the audience to be involved in the efforts for women’s empowerment: “Change doesn’t happen because we want it to happen, or because it’s fair for a just society. Change happens because people engage in the process.” Watch Armstrong’s address here.
On Friday, a panel of women business leaders shared their stories of success and failure with convention attendees. Olivia Holden, director of ASSETS/Toledo, a nonprofit organization serving small business owners, shared a piece of advice given to her by her father at a young age. “Olivia, you don’t have to sit in the back of the bus. You can drive the bus. More importantly, you can own the bus company.” Watch the full discussion here.
On Saturday evening, Nobel Peace Prize winner Leymah Gbowee shared her story as a peace activist in war-torn Liberia. Gbowee passionately encouraged the audience with a call for change. “The time for us to just be pretty has passed. It’s time for us to rise up and change the world.” She completed her moving speech by inspiring attendees to “do one good thing every day that everyone else is scared to do.” You can watch Gbowee speak to the MEDA Convention here.
The convention concluded with a reflective sermon from Sara Wenger Shenk, president of Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (AMBS). Wenger Shenk reassured MEDA supporters that to change the world is what Christ called us to do in the New Testament. Together with Wenger Shenk, we explored what it means to be gathered with the Spirit of God in the comfort of his hold, and further, what it means to be powerful and humble world-changing leaders. Watch the full sermon here.
One of the primary goals of the MEDA Convention is to inspire attendees to make an impact on the world by sharing God’s love through economic development. On Saturday morning, MEDA president Allan Sauder noted that MEDA’s work is alive and well in 62 countries, reaching 46 million families. Over the last year, MEDA supporters contributed a record-breaking $6.3 million to benefit projects around the world. Sauder also shared that, after a year of financial setbacks in 2015, MEDA has rebounded into the positive with a net surplus of more than $660,000.
The good news didn’t stop there: A silent auction, combined with a live auction on Saturday evening and an offering on Sunday morning netted more than $115,000 for our project in Myanmar (Burma)!
With the warm Texas sun and beautiful weather, San Antonio proved to be one of the more well-received convention locations in recent memory! Attendees had the opportunity to tour the city by river barge, recumbent bicycle, foot or bus. And with the superb culinary atmosphere around the historic city, no attendee went hungry!
Whether you’re a “first-timer” to convention or have attended for over 30 years, the MEDA convention always seems like a giant family reunion. This year, we welcomed over 400 convention attendees of all ages to San Antonio, including over 40 students, six of the “10 Young Women Changing the World Award Winners,” and 23 MEDA board members.
Naturally, we’re proud of the 2016 MEDA Convention. But we’re not the only ones who had a great time! Read an overview of the event from our friends at The Mennonite here.
Unable to make it to San Antonio? No worries! We’ve already got our sights set on #MEDACon17 in Vancouver! Here’s a video that’s sure to whet your appetite.